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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

It was supposed to die in the House of Representatives. As recently as June, pundits were pronouncing the Senate’s health care legislation dead in the water. But this week Mitch McConnell unveiled a revised version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, and incredibly, Democrats lack a third Republican vote to kill the bill. Even more remarkable is that the newest BCRA is even more monstrous than the last.

For Paul Krugman, “it’s surpassingly ugly, intellectually and morally.” On Thursday, the New York Times columnist called Republicans’ efforts to roll back some of the savage Medicaid cuts a “scam.” That’s because McConnell’s health care legislation dictates tax-favored health savings accounts pay insurance premiums. This would not only enable the rich to set up huge tax shelters, but subject them to marginal tax rates, providing obscene savings.

“This is still a bill that takes from the poor,” Krugman writes, “It just does so with extra stealth.”

As if that weren’t enough, Trumpcare would effectively decimate protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The new BCRA includes a Cruz amendment enabling insurers to offer skeleton health care plans with huge deductibles. Even industry insiders believe Republicans are flirting with disaster. America’s Health Insurance Plans, a national political advocacy and trade association with approximately 1,300 members, warns the amendment would “fracture and segment insurance markets into separate risk pools,” causing “unstable health insurance markets.” In layman’s terms, it would kick off the dreaded death spiral Republicans have been predicting for the Affordable Care Act since its passage in 2010.

It’s really very simple. If the GOP manages to pass its health care bill, millions of Americans will be deprived of insurance, while those who manage to keep theirs will pay considerably more for less. As Krugman sees it, this is what Republicans have wanted all along.

“Conservative ideology always denied the proposition that people are entitled to health care; the Republican elite considered and still considers people on Medicaid, in particular, ‘takers’ who are effectively stealing from the deserving rich,” he concludes. “So what we’re seeing here is supposed to be the last act in a long con, the moment when the fraudsters cash in, and their victims discover how completely they’ve been fooled.”

Read Paul Krugman’s column at the New York Times.

Jacob Sugarman is a managing editor at AlterNet.