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Last week, Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan unveiled the long awaited GOP replacement to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act commonly known as Obamacare.
Despite having a total of seven years to create a realistic policy alternative to the ACA, and more than 50 votes to repeal the ACA, the Republican “American Health Care Act” (AHCA) is more of a rough first draft than a polished legislation.
The specifics of the bill are somewhat in question, largely because House Republicans are choosing to rush into the process before conducting appropriate reviews from various nonpartisan analysts, including the Congressional Budget Office.
However, from what we do know about the bill, it’s clear the GOP has a very simplistic and impersonal view of what role the government should play in healthcare.
Instead of working to ensure that as many Americans as possible have access to afordable healthcare they can afford, the GOP plan would actually kick over 14 million Americans off their coverage by 2018.
That number grows to 21 million by 2020, and 24 million by 2026, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. That’s more than the population of Iowa, eight times over.
Also according to the CBO, the bill would result in a deficit reduction of approximately $350 billion over a 10-year period.
So what’s the benefit of ripping insurance away from more than 24 million people?
Deficit reduction is never a bad thing, especially in relatively strong economic times like these.
However, it is worth asking where those reductions come from. The cuts come from a deep slashing of Medicaid and subsidies that help people get insurance to the tune of over $1.2 trillion.
At the same time, the GOP plan would cut $900 billion worth of taxes, which lands us at about $300 billion in savings.
The new tax cuts aren’t going to help working families however.
It comes from repealing taxes in high income-earners payroll tax, an annual net tax for wealthy Americans, and the elimination of certain taxes on health insurers.
Long story short, the bill would slash services for the working class and poor folks (Medicaid, subsidies) in order to give another tax break to wealthy Americans and big insurance companies.
It’s not hard to see why so many congressional leaders — including some unexpected figures — have come out against the bill.
Sen. Tom Cotton, a conservative from blood-red Arkansas, has criticized the bill, along with moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who objects that the bill would simultaneously defund Planned Parenthood.
All in all, 12 Republican senators have publicly criticized the bill in its current form, and for good reason.
A March 15 poll from Public Policy Polling found that only 24 percent of voters nationally support the GOP Healthcare plan, while nearly 49 percent oppose it.
But the polling and widespread opposition to the bill among prominent groups, including the American Medical Association shouldn’t be surprising.
For as much vitriol and common outrage that “Obamacare” might have sparked after its 2010 passage, most Americans fundamentally agree with the principle behind it: that healthcare shouldn’t be determinant on income.
The ACA isn’t perfect and there is work to be done to improve it, but the GOP alternative to kick 24 million people off insurance while passing massive tax breaks for the wealthy is not only a cruel alternative, it is simply does not hold true to our shared American values.