Like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, GOP efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) are alive and well thanks to the efforts of House conservatives and one self-proclaimed Republican moderate, Tom MacArthur of New Jersey.
But if you were hoping the new proposal would be an improvement, you’ll be disappointed. It still includes all the bad things in the original Republican bill the Congressional Budget Office skewered.
At least 24 million Americans will still lose their insurance, including those who choose not to buy it because they can no longer afford it. But that number will almost certainly climb higher still under the new GOP bill.
Higher premiums for older folks remain part of the proposal, but will go higher still under the new conservative revision.
Higher deductibles are still there as well, as is the $880 billion cut to Medicaid to free up money for tax cuts for the rich and powerful.
The new, more conservative proposal, keeps all of these features, but adds others that make it worse. It would allow states to reduce or eliminate essential medical benefits, for example; things like emergency services, maternity care, and mental health and substance abuse services, among others.
It would also let states allow insurers to charge any rate they want for older people. Obamacare capped this at a 3:1 ratio; the original GOP proposal would have changed that to 5:1. But the new amendment would allow states to pick a higher ratio still if they like.
By also permitting states to eliminate essential health benefits, another cost-saving measure, the new proposal would go a long way to bringing back the days when insurance plans took your money but covered almost nothing of consequence.
Finally, the new proposal would also make insurance unaffordable for many people with pre-existing conditions. Oh sure, the Republicans deny that. They talk about high-risk pools subsidized by the Federal government.
But like everything the Republicans say, it’s almost certainly a lie.
As Rep. Billy Long (R-Missouri) put it: “I have always stated that one of the few good things about Obamacare is that people with preexisting conditions would be covered. The MacArthur amendment strips away any guarantee that preexisting conditions would be covered and affordable.”
In case you were wondering, Long is no closet liberal. He won his first election in 2010 by pledging to fight “government-run healthcare;” and he has won reelection every two years since then by telling voters he was “fighting to repeal Obamacare.”
Remember the good old days when Trump promised us better coverage at a cheaper price with everyone covered? Well now, with Trump in office and Paul Ryan riding herd, you can look forward to worse coverage at higher prices with tens of million losing insurance.
A bill that provides greater access to the healthcare system by kicking tens of millions of people off the insurance rolls? Better care by taking away essential services? More affordable care by jacking up premiums for those who need it the most?
Now there’s a bill that George Orwell and Ayn Rand can get behind with enthusiasm!
Of course, everyone seems to think Senate Republicans will save the day if their House colleagues end up passing this absurdity. But then again hardly anyone thought Trump would ever be elected President and look what that got us.