Price of health care sell out

Published 11:46 am Friday, May 5, 2017

Thirty pieces of silver was the price for betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot.

It was also, at the time, the going price paid if a slave was gored to death by your bull. The 30 pieces of silver were, in modern mob terms, a pay-off for doing something otherwise unacceptable. Today the Republicans in the House of Representatives are willing to sell you out for a good deal more. Their price for undermining your healthcare? A cool $600 billion.

Yep, $600 billion is the reason for the new Republican healthcare plan. $600 billion is also the reason the healthcare plan has to be rushed through quickly and without an updated CBO report on its cost.

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$600 billion.

Here is how it all comes together. First, after seven years of promising to kill Obamacare, Republicans feel compelled to do so even though the program is now supported by a majority of Americans. And it is fair to admit that the Affordable Care Act has been less than perfect. The ACA needs repairs. The co-pays and deductibles are too high for many working families and overall insurance costs continue to rise.

So the approach we would and should expect from the People’s Representatives would be to create something better in the process of repairing the ACA. For who would seek to do harm to Americans wanting nothing more than to keep their access to healthcare?

Unfortunately, Republicans were not motivated by improving healthcare, but by $600 billion in reduced congressional spending for healthcare. Instead of improving on the ACA, their plan will create 24 million uninsured Americans, will significantly raise insurance premiums on older Americans who need healthcare, and will return us to the horrific times of “pre-existing” conditions where insurers refused sick people insurance or charged them premiums too high to purchase coverage.

The Republican plan transfers responsibility for Medicaid coverage to the states and reduces the federal payments to offset that coverage. This change allows states to set tighter and tighter rules for qualifying for Medicaid, thus eliminating the poorest Americans from any healthcare coverage. Then, to lower premiums, states can cut required benefits. For example, a state might decide it could not afford mental health access and end that coverage.

And this is how the federal government saves $600 billion, by reducing the number of Americans insured and the coverages of those insured, while raising the premiums of those still insured.

And it is crucial that Republicans get this done quickly because they intend to use the $600 billion in savings to give a giant tax cut to the richest Americans and they need the $600 billion to hand out to the top 1 percent.

Now if you are the cynical type you might see this as a massive transfer of wealth from the poorest to the richest Americans. You would be correct.

But you need not remain cynical. There is a far better alternative. Call your congressperson, call them this week, next week, and the following week. Call your Senators, call them this week, next week and the following week. Demand that they stop destroying your healthcare to give tax cuts to the richest Americans. Ask them to protect and improve healthcare in America.

Public pressure may be the only way to avoid this congress from betraying your best interests.


Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.