I was very pleased the Senate decided to delay the vote on health care repeal but the fight is not over. We must remember what is at stake and continue to fight this immoral piece of legislation. This bill was never publicly debated and it should have been by both parties.
Medicaid provides coverage for 1 in 5 Americans. It is a federal backstop to provide healthcare to pregnant women, to more than 1/3 of our nations’ children and to almost 60 percent of all nursing home residents. Proponents of this bill are talking about ending health insurance coverage for millions of people.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that in 10 years, 49 million people would be without insurance which would devastate, particularly, rural Americans.
Let us not mince words. If this bill becomes law, children will lose health care and nursing homes and hospitals will close. It is no secret that rural hospitals already serve older, poorer and sicker populations. More people will turn to rural hospitals to get care if they lose their insurance. Rural hospitals are already struggling to stay in business and this bill will force them to cut back, or worse, close.
Perhaps the most troubling part of this bill is the section on state waivers. By allowing waivers of Essential Health Benefits (EHBs), the bill removes protections for those with pre-existing conditions placing them in a “high-risk” pool with higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
This bill isn’t a bill for our most vulnerable, instead it is a massive tax cut for the rich. Health plans will, without a doubt, cost more and cover less. The uninsured rate will almost double in people who earn about $24,000 annually, and it will be even larger for older Americans. This is why we cannot allow this bill to go forward. It’s time for Republicans and Democrats to work together on this issue to establish affordable healthcare for all Americans.