Our Catholic Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, is busy rushing a very bad health care reform bill through the House of Representatives.
The mandate to buy insurance will be eliminated. Subsidies are to be replaced by tax credits, which benefit only those who have enough income to be paying taxes. As many as 15 million people could lose their health insurance. Heavy tax cuts will serve as a tax windfall to rich people and insurance companies at the expense of the poor. No estimate of the cost of the program has been provided, and no mechanism to pay for it has been put forth.
Medicaid expansion as currently structured will be ended. It now provides care to more than 70 million people. The coverage includes not just the poor, but elderly middle-class families that have no more money due to a major health crisis. They will likely be unable to receive long-term nursing care.
Look at what one very conservative former Congressman, Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” had to say about the bill.
To Scarborough it is obvious that this bill is designed to hurt the poor and thus winds up adding to inequality. He notes that “you don’t have to be a socialist” to recognize this fact. Scarborough says that income inequality is our greatest economic challenge, and passing a bill that takes insurance away from people who need it while eliminating taxes on the wealthy is not a route to dealing with that challenge. Scarborough goes on to ask what happened to Trump’s populism. Instead, he has surrounded himself with billionaires and is trying to pass legislation that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.
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Some Republican senators are saying they will not support the bill. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, calls the House bill dead on arrival in the Senate. She is concerned about the millions of people who will lose coverage under the bill. It only requires three Republican senators to say “no” in order to kill the health care bill.
Congressmen like Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, want a straight repeal. They think the plan now before Congress is too generous. They want all taxes from the original bill cut, and Medicaid expansion ended.
How do you bring these groups together? It is difficult to see how this Republican Congress can actually pass a health care reform bill. If, as they seem to be doing now, they placate conservatives and make the bill friendlier to the House Freedom Caucus, they will lose more senators. If they move toward the more moderate Senate they will be unable to get a bill through the House. A possible compromise does not seem evident.
It should also be pointed out that this bill in no way represents President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail. He promised his reform would cover everyone. No one would lose coverage. It was to cost less and provide better coverage. He emphasized during the campaign that we could not allow people to die in the streets.
Why do they always hurt the poor? Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, says, “Americans have choices.” “Rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love … they should invest in their own health care.”
That rhetoric lets us know that the poor are not even being thought about when this kind of legislation is being crafted. They have developed a plan for people who have money. One has to at least have enough money to be paying taxes for a tax credit to mean something. If you are not in that category there is nothing for you.
Surely this is not the America we are becoming. Take health care away from those who need it. Give tax breaks to those who don’t need it. This bill should never become law in this country.