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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

On Friday in a town hall meeting in Washington, President Obama said he would be happy to replace Obamacare with a better program but said Republican critics haven’t proposed anything that would bring better results by any objective measure.

“From the very start, in the earliest negotiations in 2009, 2010, I made clear to Republicans that, if they had ideas that they could show would work better than the ideas that we had thought of, I would be happy to incorporate them into the law,” the president said. “And rather than offer ideas, what we got was a big no, we just don’t want to do this.”

Republicans in Congress have already taken the first steps to repeal a program that brought health coverage to 20 million Americans, lowered health care cost inflation and saved the government hundreds of billions. They did so by this week passing a budget resolution with massive unspecified spending cuts, which will target the law’s individual subsidies and block grants to states for expanding their anti-poverty Medicaid programs. What congressional Republicans haven’t done, as Obama emphasized Friday, was say what they would replace it with—continuing their empty promise rhetoric.

“After the law passed, for the last six, seven years, there has been the argument that we  [the GOP] can provide a great replacement that will be much better for everybody than what the Affordable Care Act is providing,” Obama said. “And yet, over the last six, seven years, there has been no actual replacement law that any credible health care policy experts have said would work better. In fact, many of them would result in millions of people losing coverage and the coverage being worse for those who kept it.”

What Obama didn’t say was that the Republicans don’t want to replace Obamacare, but instead are willing to let lower-income people fend for themselves with limited access to anything resembling preventative health care. And their health care reforms, which have been known for some time, will also results in a giant transfer of money from wealthier private hands at the expense of everyday Americans who will face fewer options.

Here are five takeaways showing why the known parts of the GOP’s repeal and (most likely not) replace plan amount to Robinhood in reverse: taking from the poor, working- and middle-class and giving to corporate Americans and Wall Street.

1. Millions will lose coverage.

As Obama said, millions of people will be hurt by losing coverage if Republicans eliminate subsidies for households buying policies through the state-based exchanges or federal government. People will go back to not having health coverage because they cannot afford it, especially if they over age 50—which is when insurers really start raising premiums. But vast numbers of people will also lose it when Republicans roll back Medicaid expansion by turning that program into block grants for states, which leaves governors and legislature in the position of having to raise taxes to continue those programs.

2. The transfer of wealth begins.

This upward redistribution comes as the GOP starts to repeal the tax penalties associated with the Affordable Care Act. While they will surely argue that removing individual penalties helps the little guy, they will also be letting large employers off the hook for providing coverage for employees, a bottom-line bonanza. It is unclear what the GOP will do with law’s income tax surcharge on the highest earners, as the GOP may seek to retain some revenue for what they will likely advertise as new tax credits to help lower-income people pay for private insurance. The problem, as is always the case with tax credits, is one has to first have enough income to use them.

3. Wall Street gets to cash in.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans have long-espoused expanding the use of health savings accounts, as a way to build up the sufficient funds needed when sickness or a medical emergency strikes. That is a very big way that financial institutions will get to make big money by skimming off of the top of these accounts under the guise of management fees. This entire approach is based on a false premise that’s akin to the was 401k savings plans were sold by right-wingers as a replacement for employee pensions—they put money aside, but it is a pale shade of what’s needed to cope with real-life living expenses. Nonetheless, Wall St. profits.

4. Cost shifts will hit consumers.

Health care economics are not hard to understand. When profit-driven institutions like hospitals, drug makers and insurers lose money from unanticipated costs—such as people flocking to emergency rooms or facing big surgery after being denied access to preventative care—they stick to their profit goals by raising prices wherever they can. That dynamic is what is behind the recent rise in health care premiums, according to a series of recent astute analyses. Paul Krugman has written that what’s behind recent premium increases in states where insurers aren’t regulated, like California, is a temporary consequence of those without insurance catching up on neglected health issues. Obama, speaking Friday, said that insurers also intentionally offered low-cost initial plans to grab as big a market share as possible. There is no evidence that insurers, hospitals and drug companies will cease price-gouging. Thus, taking federal billions out of the system means either less care or higher costs for all.

5. The race to the bottom begins.

Republicans have said they will push for allowing people to buy insurance across state lines. That is not the same as allowing states that regulate insurance companies from forming regional compacts to create bigger pools to support more insurance-buying choices. As Dean Baker, co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington told AlterNet, that “means that every insurer gets incorporated in the least regulated state and the other states can’t do anything to prevent them from ripping off their customers (e.g. get incorporated in Alabama and collect premiums and don’t pay claims in California).” And that’s not all. “Also they will look to end pooling whereby the more healthy subsidize the less healthy, former tend to be richer, latter poorer,” he said.

The Only Replacement Alternative

The Republicans have no intention of replacing Obamacare with anything that will continue or maintain the same level of coverage that is now under the Affordable Care Act. If they did, it would have been presented by congressional sponsors in the 60 or so pieces of legislation that they passed to kill Obamacare—that the president vetoed. Not one Republican has ever seriously proposed anything close to imposing price controls, which Republican President Richard Nixon entertained amid a struggling economy in the early 1970s.

But there is an alternative to the system of private health insurance that is the status quo and Obama discussed that on Friday, when explaining the history of the Affordable Care Act—which he said was based on a place created by a Republican Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, and intentionally designed to attract Republican support.

“If you look at how this law evolved—and I’ve said this publicly before, if I was starting from scratch, I probably would have supported a single-payer system because it’s just easier for people to understand and manage,” Obama said. “And that’s essentially what Medicare is, is a single-payer system for people of a certain age. And people are very satisfied with it and it’s not that complicated to understand or to access services. But that wasn’t available; we weren’t starting from scratch.”

“So what did I then do?” he continued. “I said, well, where is a system out there that seems to be providing coverage for everybody that politically we could actually get through a Congress and where we could get Republican support. And lo and behold, in Massachusetts there was a plan that had been designed on a bipartisan basis—including by a Republican governor who ultimately became the nominee for the Republican Party—that came close to providing universal coverage. And I would have thought since this was an idea that had previously gotten a lot of Republican support that it would continue to get a lot of Republican support. And yet, somehow, magically, the minute we said this is a great idea and it’s working, Republicans said this is terrible and we don’t want to do this.”

Does anybody think that today’s congressional Republicans and the president-elect are going to magically reverse course and embrace Obamacare as a copycat GOP program—especially after years and years of vilifying it? No, it’s likely they will revoke coverage for lower-income people, who are among there least-reliable voters, get Wall Street involved in skimming health savings funds and let everyone else fend for themselves in a chaotic system of higher prices and less care.

And it then will fall on Democrats, or another national political movement, to resurrect what everybody has known is the answer all along: a single-payer system.

IMAGE: U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) holds a weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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29 responses to “5 Ways GOP Repeal Of Obamacare Takes From The Poor And Gives To The Rich”

  1. Thoughtopsy says:

    All sadly predictable.
    After all, this IS the party that believes that poor people deserve to die.
    Ayn Rand had a lot to say on that.
    Money = genius virtue… Poverty = parasitical laziness.

    Of course she was a deluded hack who ran her own harem like a deranged queen bee… but that doesn’t stop GOP members from liking the philosophy that fits their worldview.

    Isn’t it funny how 4 American deaths in Benghazi generates years of investigations and hand-wringing… but tens of thousands of Americans dying through lack of urgent and preventative healthcare is just “good business”.

    • That last paragraph of yours is a classic portrait of the hypocrisy of the GOP and its supporters. The spirit of Ayn Rand and the other materialist philosophers is deeply ingrained in the GOP and very unlikely to be removed from the current generation of conservatives.

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  10. judy.campbell says:

    Awesome stay-at-home work opportunity for anyone… Start working for three to eight hrs daily and profit about 5000-12000 dollars every month… Weekly payments…
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  11. At the end of each day, the primary motivator for the GOP is greed to a degree unmatched by others. Yes, there is the propensity to be greedy in all of us—it’s a human frailty built into our “spiritual genetic” makeup as a test, and so far the GOP is flunking the test. Nothing will slow down the GOP juggernaut of Greed save old age, a smarter electorate, and/or Divine Intervention.

    • dbtheonly says:

      Aaron,

      You have any idea of the utility of the spammed comments that merely are several meaningless letters?

      I flagged all of them.

      To the point. I recall George McGovern calling for universal MediCare at the time. President Obama said that wasn’t an option? If he had the votes for Obamacare, Medicare would have lost some?

    • jmprint says:

      But what you will take is the fact that you intentionally did things to hurt others. You as in them.

      • Right. From the Baha’i perspective, which augments what other Religions and Traditions revealed and what was not possible to go into detail about then, there is the description similar to what you wrote, namely, that we only take the good qualities we develop in this world, and what we fail to develop will cause difficulty progressing in the next realm. And for harmful acts committed on purpose against others, there is a price to pay. Exactly what the “price” is, that is not disclosed.

        But the entire theme of what I outlined is best for others to read about, and form their own impressions.

    • prenestino says:

      I once stated in a commentary on a right wing publication that the GOP is for health care insurance for those who can afford it, and those who can’t should just die when they need it. I asked for rebuttals to this notion. All I got back were obscene name calling and inarticulate rage. I guess I hit a nerve. Anyway, I see it as confirmation of your posting

      • Sorry to hear that you were mistreated that way. One of the sad features of America is that partisan politics and a hostile social atmosphere have rendered people into brutes, who only know how to express themselves with name-calling and using foul language. I know the feeling you felt.

  12. ivory69690@yahoo.com says:

    “After the law passed, for the last six, seven years, there has been the argument that we [the GOP] can provide a great replacement that will be much better for everybody than what the Affordable Care Act is providing,” Obama said. “And yet, over the last six, seven years, there has been no actual replacement law that any credible health care policy experts have said would work better. In fact, many of them would result in millions of people losing coverage and the coverage being worse for those who kept it.”////// one has to wonder what the hell is wrong with the people of this country ? ok ill give it that there are so many brain dead DONNY DUMP followers that have no brains . ok maybe that covers them but its all the people of the country yes the braid dead DONNY DUMP followers are truly too stupid to know what’s good and bad for them . yes thy are too dumb to know that all the GOP gang of pinhead idiots only work for the very few the 2 &2 % rich greedy bastards of the country . then again its these same stupid people that cry about every thing in the government . saying why don’t we have this why don’t we have that ? well brain dead people the answer to that question is because you clowns keep putting the GOP gang of pinhead idiots in office . and with that thy only work for the greedy bastard rich . that’s too simply for you dumb butts to even understand . and get ready people for a lot more crying now that the STUPID people of this country filled up al the offices with the GOP . doing so you all just feed the 1 &2 % rich and with that you will cry why are things the way thy are . yes stupid has the DIRTY BUSH era been so long ago that you don’t recall the grave he bury the country is . if you was to check of who didn’t hurt in the DIRTY BUSHES time it was the 1&2 % rich . heck thy made money as the country and the people died in the grave . people do this mark down all the down falls of the GOP say since 2000 even and then give yourself a chance and try filling up all the offices in the government with the DEMS just people try this for 8 years and then look at the notes and see who want more for all the people of the country and not for just the few . as DONNY DUMP the DUMPSTER said what the hell do you have to lose ?

  13. stsintl says:

    Once “Social Responsibility” was discarded by the GOP of Lincoln and Eisenhower from the core values, Republicans were left with: Little or no taxes; Little or no regulations: Carry the gun; and survival of the fittest. These are the same core values as those of Mafia. So, slow and steady, they infiltrated the party and took it over. Now, with all those deregulations, tax cuts, and proliferation of guns, Mafia has taken over the Chambers of Congress, Boardrooms of Corporate America, Benches of the Supreme Court and the Oval Office.
    In a pot of milk, cream rises to the top. In a swamp, scum rises to the top. 2016 elections is a living proof of that.
    May God Bless America

    • prenestino says:

      Actually, “survival of the Fittest” means survival of a specie through adaptation.. Usually this means survival by mutual cooperation among its members and those of other species. Meaningful health care insurance is an effective adaptive tool for our specie. Thus the present GOP goes against Darwin. And if you look at its leadership, they are certainly not on the side of the “fittest.”

  14. itsfun says:

    Everything I have read and heard tells me that Obamacare won’t be repealed until a replacement is in place. I think they will repeal Obamacare this year, but it won’t come into effect until 2018 or whenever the new plan is available to all.

  15. George Alvarez says:

    1) Taking back what the poor have taken from you is not “taking away” from the poor.
    2) A repeal of a tax penalty is not a transfer of wealth
    3) 401K’s were never sold as a replacement for pension plans. Pension plans still exist under the law. They were sold as a tax advantaged way of saving for your own retirement, in addition to having a pension, or because your employer doesn’t provide one
    4) Cost shifts do not necessarily increase prices. In this case, one might argue the opposite. If you go into a store and you charge the goods to someone else’s credit card, you don’t care what the items cost. But if you are paying out of pocket, you’re going to shop around for the best price.
    5) Not sure how #5 gives to the rich, except to say that this is a lot like car insurance. If you get a lot of tickets or get in accidents, ie, if you USE your insurance, you’re going to pay more. That also happens at McDonalds. The more you go there, the higher your bill.

    The cost of my health insurance has doubled. This means I’ve taken on the cost of another family of six. No thanks. I didn’t sign up for that. I want out.

    • dpaano says:

      Unfortunately, you’re so misinformed that it’s ridiculous! Who do you think pays for those poor people who, without health care insurance, have to come to the ER for services even for minor problems? Yes, it’s the taxpayer (you). The hospital raises their prices of services and supplies to supplement the lack of getting paid for these people and passes them on to those of us who DO have healthcare insurance. This is the ONLY reason why your healthcare has gone up! As for the insurance companies, they will charge you whatever they want based on your age, your health, etc. Once you start getting older, you’ll be paying more and more for basic healthcare! In the meantime, the insurance companies and the Big Pharma companies will be making tons of money, paying less taxes (because they can), and getting richer…..all the while, the taxpayer is getting poorer and getting substandard care, if any at all!!
      As for pension plans, there are very few companies nowadays that offer pension plans….most of them offer 401(k) programs where they may (or may not) match funds that you put in from your paycheck. As has been said before, the monies going into this 401(k) plan are hardly enough to live on once you retire, although anything helps vs. nothing.
      You seriously need to do some research because you know NOTHING about what you’re talking about! Repealing Obamacare will give MORE money to the 1% and less money to the poor and middle class!

    • johninPCFL says:

      The cost of my health insurance doubled every three years in the decade preceding ACA. It has increased 20% in the last three years.

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