Senate GOP Leaders today announced that the voting for the Senate Health Care bill would take place after the July 4th recess. After Mitch McConnell’s secret draft meeting, it was no surprise to me that the bill received such criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike. Even Ted Cruz, the most conservative of Republicans had a meeting with President Donald Trump to feel reassured on the bill’s potential. The bill needs 50 “yes” votes from the Senate, and already 5 out of the 52 Republican Senators have stated their vote is a “no”.
Well for starters if you want the good news, the bill will help reduce federal government deficits by $321 billion in the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The majority of this reduction comes from the constrictions on medicaid.
How do these constrictions work? Well, first of all government aims to reduce funding for all medicaid expansion by 2021. This includes states such as Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, New Hampshire, and several others. Then the amount that all states receive for medicaid will be lessened in a span of three years. According to CNN Money a total of 70 million people are currently covered by Medicaid. Either states will have to make up for the difference in funding, or they will simply cut Medicaid enrollment for a percentage of that 70 million. The good news just turned into bad news.
We already see the disastrous effects of states who have opted out of Medicaid expansion such as Texas. Several cancer patients cannot even afford the preliminary procedures in the state as their counterparts with Medicaid expansion in Arkansas can. One can only imagine what the effects will be when 772 billion dollars are slashed from the Medicaid budget in the next 10 years.
Some argue that the Senate’s bill is an angel in comparison to the House’s “Trumpcare”. They say the bill still protects against insurance companies from discriminating against those with pre-existing health care conditions. However, this is not a guarantee as the bill like the American Health Care Act allows states to waive essential health benefits to those insured. The Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Senate’s Health Care bill proposes less strict requirements for states to receive waivers for insurance companies to provide essential health benefits. These essential health benefits include everything from addiction to mental health treatment. Opponents of the bill argue that if those seeking insurance will receive weak plans that cover less health care benefits, essentially the consequences are similar to discrimination. Less is covered for you and if you are poor you might still have to pay higher deductibles with your plan.
One of the biggest criticisms Republicans had with the Affordable Health Care Act, “Obamacare” was the mandate that all Americans have to be insured or they will receive a fine. The Senate bill will repeal that. The Senate bill will also provide subsidies based on income, cost of coverage, and age. Older individuals will pay a lot more for healthcare because these subsidies will be less than those of Obamacare (although still more than the House’s health care proposal). Those who even receive subsidies will still need more financial assistance to cover health care costs as the Senate bill will have $424 billion less in subsidies. The taxes Obamacare had on the wealthy as well as insurers would be removed.
The Better Care Reconciliation Act also says people who choose to forgo health insurance can apply for it again, but they will have to wait six months to receive it. The motive here is that people will not abuse the health care system and only buy insurance when they fall sick. From a moral and ethical standpoint, Obamacare allowed each American to contribute to our health care system. Those who were poor were accounted for.
I really don’t think the Senate will pass this bill after the July 4th recess. Maybe the United States should look towards a more universal form of healthcare? At least my friends from France and Mexico seem pretty content with the healthcare they had back home.
Sources (CNN Money, Slate, The Atlantic)