AHCA hurts elderly, poor Americans

Protest_AP Images & Albin Lohr-Jones.jpeg

By Jesse Goodwin, Staff Writer

Research overwhelmingly shows that the American Health Care Act, the House Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, would make healthcare coverage unaffordable for elderly and poor Americans, especially those who voted for President Donald Trump in November.

AHCA’s flat tax credits are awarded by age rather than income and cost of living, making it more difficult for Americans who live around the poverty line—especially older Americans—to afford insurance.

On March 15, during an interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News, Trump agreed with Carlson that AHCA would hurt those who voted for him in November.

Carlson cited an analysis by Bloomberg, which showed that counties that voted for Trump in the election would see their tax credits to purchase insurance fall by as much as $6.6 billion, likely resulting in an increase in the number of people without insurance. Meanwhile, counties that voted for Clinton would receive a tax break of $21.9 billion.

Additionally, healthcare subsidies would be prioritized for elderly Americans, but the amount of assistance would be limited to just $2,000 of a $10,000 insurance policy.

“Oh, I know. I know,” Trump responded. “It’s very preliminary, Tucker.”

Another analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that states that voted for Trump would see the sharpest decrease in their average premiums.

The seven states in which tax credits would decline the most are Alaska, North Carolina, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Alabama, Nebraska, and Wyoming, all of which voted for Trump.

The bill would also penalize Americans who purchase insurance coverage after going without it for more than 63 days, increasing the cost of their premiums by 30 percent. That surcharge would benefit insurance companies.

The ACA raised taxes on the top 1 percent. By contrast, AHCA would cut their taxes. Per the CBPP, “the top 400 highest-income taxpayers—whose annual incomes average more than $300 million apiece—would receive an average annual tax cut of about $7 million.”

AHCA also forces states to eliminate healthcare services for seniors, children, working families, and the disabled. This means that Americans unable to purchase their own insurance would have fewer options to do so.

Trump told Carson that the bill would eventually pass, but suggested that its current version would be changed first.

“A lot of things aren’t consistent,” Trump said. “But these are going to be negotiated…. Right now, we have five or six senators that look like maybe they’re not going to—I’m talking about Republicans, because we’re not going to get one Democrat to vote for it.”

The morning after Trump’s interview, GOP Reps. Dave Brat of Virginia, Gary Palmer of Alabama, and Mark Sanford of South Carolina voted against the bill in the House Budget Committee. It passed through the committee by a vote of 19-17.

The bill previously passed through the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees with unanimous Republican support.

A third analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office pushed moderate Republicans such as Brat, Palmer, and Sanford to call for changes to the bill. It found that the bill would decrease the number of insured Americans by 14 million over the next year and 24 million over the next decade.

If the same percentage of the full House committee votes against it, it will not pass through the committee. For this to happen, Democrats must remain united in opposition to it and more Republicans must vote against it.

Any representative who supports AHCA betrays the trust of the American people—in particular, that of elderly and poor Americans, many of whom would be unable to afford healthcare under it. We should ask our representatives to oppose it and ensure continued access to affordable healthcare for all Americans.

Photo Courtesy: AP Images & Albin Lohr-Jones

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