After eight years of Obamacare ruining our beloved country by saving tens of thousands of lives and helping poor people get health insurance regardless of whether they have an iPhone, Republicans have introduced a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare…kind of. The bill, in its current form keeps several provisions of Obamacare, changes others and only outright repeals a few aspects of the bill.
The individual mandate, which maintained that everyone had to purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty, was among the repealed provisions. This was widely regarded as the least popular part of Obamacare, but its existence was necessary to maintain more popular provisions, such as guaranteeing coverage to those with preexisting conditions. Trumpcare would also repeal subsidies for out-of-pocket expenses, wherein the government gives some people tax credits to help pay for deductibles.
Other changes to the tax credit system include basing subsidies on age rather than income, and allowing wealthier households to receive tax credits for health insurance. People under 30 would be able to get up to $2,000 to pay for health insurance, while those over 60 would get up to double that amount. However, older Americans can be charged up to five times more for health insurance (this rate was three times under Obamacare). Estimates by an independent organization show that 40-year-olds with individual incomes of $20,000 a year could see their tax credits reduced by more than 50 percent in most states, while 60 year olds with similar incomes would see their tax credits drop 25 percent-75 percent in most cases.
Those who will likely see their subsidies drop the most are those who backed Trump by the largest margin, such as those in rural areas. This is partly due to the fact that under Obamacare wealthier (and more liberal) states such as California ended up subsidizing poorer states like Mississippi. Republicans are clearly willing to do anything to give a tax cut to the rich.
There are clearly some major problems with this piece of legislation, but they are not the remaining similarities to Obamacare. Allowing children to stay on their parent’s plans until age 26 and a prohibition on lifetime limits are among the only decent parts of the bill. Even positive Obamacare provisions are under siege; for example, as those with pre-existing conditions may no longer be covered as a result of last minute changes to appease hardline conservatives.
The major issue is that this bill features a huge tax cut for the rich, and takes away from the poorest Americans. Two specific taxes being eliminated from the Affordable Care Act will result in a tax cut of 275 billion dollars for the top 4.4% over the next 10 years. To put this amount of money into the pockets of the well off when there are people who are sick or dying because they cannot afford to see a doctor is abhorrent. Our priorities should be focused on caring for the least fortunate among us. Every other country guarantees healthcare for all citizens because it is the right thing to do. Only in the United States could leaders so easily dismiss the struggles of working class Americans by telling them to just forgo the new iPhone.
The myth that those living in poverty just need to make smarter life choices has been perpetuated for decades, and it still isn’t true. Suggesting that people would be able to afford health insurance if they simply budgeted better mocks those that spend hours awake at night wondering if they will have enough to put food on the table for their kids, or make the payment on their rent. For these people healthcare is a luxury, when there is no reason it should be. Obamacare helped alleviate this problem by expanding Medicaid and allowing many to purchase health insurance for the first time. Trumpcare will take away coverage for as many as 25 million, meaning thousands could die due to a lack of coverage, and cause more stress for working people who know their lives will be ruined if they or a family member are injured. This bill, and any other with similar consequences, must be defeated.
Jacob Kowalski is a weekly columnist to The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.