After weeks of working in secrecy, Senate Republicans released their version of the American Health Care Act to the public yesterday (June 22). Titled the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the proposed legislation would cut Medicaid funding starting in 2021, require the oldest residents to pay fives times more than the youngest, let states cut “essential health benefits,” block federal reimbursements to Planned Parenthood for at least one year and repeal taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
Head over to NPR for a side-by-side comparison of the Senate bill versus the House version and the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act.
Meanwhile, there are four GOP senators who NPR reports are withholding their support for the bill because it doesn’t go far enough. The party needs all but two of its members to suport the bill if it is to pass in the Senate. From a statement issued by Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.):
“Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor. There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.”
Most other opposition comes from those who say the bill will cause real harm to the people who need health care most. Here’s a sampling of the response.
From former President Barack Obama’s statement:
The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.
Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family—this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.
From The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’s statement:
The changes to Medicaid alone would hit people of color and underserved populations, including individuals and families living in poverty, people of color, women, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, individuals with disabilities, seniors and individuals with limited English proficiency especially hard. The ACA has reduced the number of people without insurance to historic lows, and while we are still awaiting the analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, it’s clear that the Senate bill, like the House, will deprive millions of Americans of affordable health care.
The Republican majority is playing with peoples’ lives in the most cavalier way. The only people who will benefit are the millionaires and billionaires who will get a big tax cut. We urge the Senate to reject this bill.
From American Academy of Pediatrics president Fernando Stein’s statement:
The bill fails children by dismantling the Medicaid program, capping its funding, ending its expansion and allowing its benefits to be scaled back. The bill fails all children by leaving more families uninsured, or without insurance they can afford or that meets their basic needs. This bill fails children living in or near poverty, children in foster care and children with complex health care needs whose parents have private insurance—all of these children depend on Medicaid, and if this bill passes, Medicaid will no longer be there for them.
The bill includes misleading “protections” for children by proposing to exempt them from certain Medicaid cuts. A “carve-out” for some children determined to be “disabled” does little to protect their coverage when the base program providing the coverage is stripped of its funding. Doing so forces states to chip away coverage in other ways, by not covering children living in poverty who do not have complex health conditions, or by scaling back the benefits that children and their families depend on. This bill would make a child’s access to health care dependent on his or her ZIP code and force states to make decisions about which vulnerable population gets services. Put simply, this bill is bad policy for children.
From Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards’ statement:
If this bill passes the Senate, the consequences are dire:
It would ‘defund’ Planned Parenthood; gut maternity coverage; strip millions of their health insurance; force new moms back to work shortly after giving birth; and reduce access to contraception.
In short, this bill makes it harder to prevent unintended pregnancy, harder to have a healthy pregnancy and harder to raise a family.
One in five women in this country rely on Planned Parenthood for care. They are demanding that the Senate reject this bill and keep Planned Parenthood’s doors open.
From American Psychological Association president Antonio E. Puente’s statement:
This so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act is actually worse than the bill passed by the House, because it would undermine Medicaid even more severely, if a little more slowly. This is extremely disappointing. Medicaid is a critical backstop of coverage for mental health treatment, and for millions of older Americans, children and individuals with disabilities. If the goal is to cover more people, why slash Medicaid when it is already much more cost-effective than private sector plans?