As I calculated yesterday from available data, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) currently touted by Donald Trump and various Republicans, will send thousands of Americans to their deaths, a minimum 13,500 by next year alone. The House vote is today, and while even some Republican representatives squirm and hesitate to approve it, Mr. Trump is putting exorbitant pressure on them to support it.
We can only hope the House rejects this travesty of a bill today, or – if it doesn’t – that the Senate, which is less on board with it so far, will reject it next week. In Tuesday’s post on the Our Revolution Continues blog, you can find links to ways you can put pressure on Congress, such as those of us who may be killed by this paying personal visits to our reps and senators.
It boggles the mind: a whopping 13,500 people sent to their deaths by next year through denying them healthcare… what a terrible consequence of depriving an additional 14 million of the most vulnerable people of health insurance! It is incredibly callous, utterly reprehensible, and hard to comprehend.
But why? Why would anyone do such a terrible thing? What’s the goal?
As usual, it’s profit — the greed of the rich.
It it turns out, the “Republican health care plan”, just like Donald Trump’s infrastructure “miracle”, is another ransacking move. The trick: deny affordable health coverage to those who need it the most, thereby saving a lot of expenses, and then passing the savings on to the super-rich (the top 0.1%) by giving them huge tax breaks. The care denial results from jacking up the costs for older low-income folks by as much as 750% so they can no longer afford to stay insured. The tax breaks for the rich work by canceling those taxes on the rich which are part of Obama’s Affordable Care Act (the ACA, also known as “Obamacare”).
Thus, the main aim of the proposed law is to kick vulnerable Americans off their health insurance and give more money to those who already have vast amounts of wealth beyond their ability to spend.
It’s the dirty game of wealth distribution to the top which we have come to expect from our politicians of both the Republican and “Democratic” Party; only that, when you take away health insurance from millions of people, you end up killing thousands. It’s murder for money.
Here are some numbers:
- A 21-year-old with a $26,500 income pays:
- $1,700 under Obamacare
- $1,450 under Trumpcare (a little less)
- A 64-year-old with a $26,500 income pays:
- $1,700 under Obamacare (same as the 21-year-old)
- a whopping $14,600 under Trumpcare (eight-and-a-half times as much, or more than half of his total income!)
That’s the difference between Obamacare and Trumpcare. Obamacare sets premiums by income level and helps poor people, at least in some(!) states. Trumpcare sets premiums by age, severely punishing older people! It makes health coverage unaffordable for poor old people, the ones who need coverage the most, because most of us get sick primarily in old age, and because the poor can’t afford huge premiums. Thus, after having paid into the system for years or decades, when we were younger and healthier and cost insurance companies little to nothing, we are then forced out of our insurance as soon as we get old and need to cash in on our insurance. The insurances thereby save tremendously on expenses, raking in the premiums but rarely having to pay for our care. At the same time, a lot of the saved money goes to rich people, since their taxes get cut by the AHCA. So, once again, the rich get richer, and the poor get looted even as we receive less health care.
This kind of looting destroys America from within, creating an economy of pillage rather than prosperity. There exists an online video documentary, called FIX IT 2016 “Healthcare at the Tipping Point”, which presents CEOs and medical doctors who realize and explain that this kind of looting kills the goose that lays the golden eggs (America’s workers) and creates unnecessary bureaucracy, complexity, and overhead in our healthcare services which drive up the costs. The documentary explains that single payer Medicare for All is the way to go and creates no longer wait times or rationing of healthcare services as some people always warn. To the contrary, we have the most rationed healthcare in the U.S., because so few of us can afford to pay out of pocket or have a health insurance which can. As a result, tens of thousands die each year from this rationing, and over 640,000 go bankrupt from healthcare costs each year. In contrast, Medicare for All would be humane, cost effective, and easy to implement since we already have Medicare in place.
There is more: in 1995, Taiwan surveyed other countries to see which health program was the best upon which to model its own, and it fixed upon our Medicare system as the most cost effective model. Taiwan now has a national health care plan based on our Medicare. Polls show that the majority of Americans would like to have the same. The only thing keeping us from implementing Medicare for All, is the greed of Big Pharma and the Health Insurance Industry. It is high time that we shift the focus of our nation’s policies from lining the 1%’s offshore bank accounts (in places like the Cayman Islands) to thinking of the 99% who do the actual work in our country and are struggling to survive.
As for the elimination of Obamacare’s insurance mandate (the tax-time penalty for those who can’t afford to insure themselves), this would have pleased me, as I am one of the victims who has had to pay a penalty on top of not being able to afford health coverage when I was (once again!) unemployed. Unfortunately, though, Trumpcare’s elimination of this mandate not only threatens to underfund the system, but it merely gets replaced by another – even weirder – mandate: greatly increased premiums if it takes “too long” for you to obtain your next insurance. The concept was and is all wrong in both flavors. People want health coverage! They should be helped, not penalized, when they can’t afford it. Forcing them to buy it from profiteering private insurers under threat of punitive fees, even when they are financially unable to afford the available health coverage, is just like a surgeon holding a gun to his patient’s head, ordering him to perform his heart surgery himself.
Another aspect of the whole thing: our privatized health care market does actually not decrease the costs for health care through the mechanism of free market competition, as some people always argue. Instead, it’s Medicare which successfully lowers prices by setting sane limits on providers’ costs rather than – as private insurers do – just passing insane costs on to “consumers” who, unlike participants in a truly free market, simply don’t have a choice when their health or lives are concerned. What an unsuitable meme to use for patients: “consumers.” As if health and life were luxury items rather than existential requirements. Health care for profit is an utterly warped idea which leads to abominable extortion.
Health care needs to be made universal, automatic, and persistent, a human right, independent of employers who don’t really need the hassle of arranging for health care. It needs to be made AFFORDABLE to people of all incomes! Once we resolve to cover everybody, we could even finance it, like so many other government programs, through our taxes, with no need to manage an entire separate fee collection system for it. This would be best for all Americans, easier for our businesses, and a lot simpler than what we currently have.
Now we just need to unite politically to make it happen.
- Last-minute update (March 23, afternoon): Apparently, there will be no vote tonight. There may, at least, be a stay of execution…
- Late-breaking update (March 23, evening): Trump is said to try and force a Friday vote (March 24).
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