A Vote To “Harm Millions of Americans:” Study Released Today Predicts Disaster With TrumpCare.
By Dartagnan May 04, 2017
Republicans working hard to screw millions of Americans out of their health care
David Leonhardt of the New York Times draws our attention to a Harvard study being released today that reveals just how harmful a “health care” package the Republican House and Donald Trump are about to foist on the American public. It is one that will raise premiums and prompt millions to opt instead to go uninsured, further driving prices up for everyone.
The study is based on an analysis of Massachusetts’ subsidized exchange health insurance system system. Put simply, it shows that when even relatively modest premium cost increases are imposed on lower income individuals, they tend to choose to go uninsured, preferring to stick to “emergency room” treatment.
The Massachusetts method allocates subsidies to lower-income people by separating them into categories of income—a family making $ 44,701 per year, for example, can end up paying several hundred dollars more per year then someone making $44,699. It’s not a perfect or even wholly equitable system, but it has the virtue of being well-studied. The clear-cut thresholds of income-based premium costs that result from the Massachusetts system provide an opportunity to analyze people’s behavior in a more straightforward way, with fewer variables and more reliable results.
What the Harvard study clearly shows is even a slight price increase in premiums will make lower-income folks disinclined to sign up. And if that sounds obvious, it should. All this new study does is back it up with hard data:
Why? Partly because people know that they have an alternative. They can instead rely on last-minute emergency-room care, in which hospitals typically treat them even if they lack insurance. Such care is problematic: It tends to be expensive, raising costs for other patients, and it’s often not as good as preventive care. But many poorer families choose E.R. care over taking money from their stretched budgets for health insurance.
The Republican plan being voted on today will increase costs to low income individuals not just a little, but significantly. Most affected will be lower-income, older Americans because of the way the system is designed—tax credits based primarily on age, not geographic area or ability to pay. That is a major distinction between the Republican plan and The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), and its impact will be staggering, because for low-income, aged individuals only the very sick (and desperate) will be willing to pay those premiums. According to the three authors of the Harvard study—one of whom, Amy Finkelstein of MIT, is regularly touted by such conservative outlets as the Wall Street Journal– the rest will largely opt out of the entire system:
“When premiums go up, it’s the healthier enrollees who drop out,” said Amy Finkelstein of M.I.T., another author of the study.
The implications of the Harvard study on what the Republicans are voting on today are even more ominous than the already damning analysis of the Congressional Budget Office, which predicted that the Republican plan will kick 24 million people off of their health insurance:
[T]he magnitude of the new results suggests the C.B.O. estimates of insurance losses were conservative. Nathaniel Hendren of Harvard, the paper’s third author, said that the Republican proposal would effectively end enrollment in the insurance markets for families that make less than $75,000 a year.
So this is what the Republicans are voting to do to the American public today. Their prime—indeed their only– motivation for this is to cut the same taxes on multimillionaires that permitted Obamacare’s success in providing millions of Americans with good health care coverage . As Leonhardt notes:
The Republican health bill is simply a bad bill. It’s been blasted by conservative and liberal health experts, as well as groups representing patients, doctors, nurses and hospitals. Above all, the bill cuts health benefits for the poor, the middle class, the elderly and the sick, and it funnels the savings to tax cuts for the rich.
The Republican health care bill is a recipe for disastrous, out-of control premium hikes for millions. Unfortunately for all of us, the GOP Party leadership has secured just enough “yes” votes to make its passage probable today, while sparing so-called “moderate” members of their caucus the political consequences and allowing them to vote “no.”
But those “moderate” Republicans own this as much as their colleagues, because this act of violence against Americans in taking away a system (“Obamacare”) already proven to work has been the longstanding, explicit policy of their Party leaders, whom they eagerly voted into that position. And the pain it causes will affect all Americans, including ones who live in so-called “moderate” Republican Districts:
The bill could cause more people to lose insurance than previously predicted and do more damage to insurance markets. The $8 billion sweetener that Republicans added to the bill on Wednesday would do nothing to change this reality. President Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan are continuing to push a policy that would harm millions of Americans.
Americans must remember that in 2018, when it will be time to pay back the GOP for what it did today.
House Republicans are hell-bent on ripping away our health insurance. Call your member of Congress at 202-224-3121, and demand they vote NO on a renewed Trumpcare that is worse than the one before. Remind them they work for you.
If you have trouble getting through or their “mailbox is full,” you can work through AARP (which vehemently opposes this Bill) to connect you to a live person to answer: AARP’s #: 844-259-9352.