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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/8/17

GOP Plan Targets Poor, Sick, Elderly While Providing Tax Cuts for Wealthy

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Not only is it cruel and regressive, but the American Healthcare Act "violates all" of President Donald Trump's campaign trail commitments

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer


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The Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) "will do active harm to millions of people, particularly low-income people and seniors;" includes tax breaks for wealthy insurance CEOs; and is generally "a nastier, more consumer-unfriendly proposal than even close followers could have expected."

The American Healthcare Act (AHCA), unveiled by House Republicans Monday night, dismantles (pdf) major provisions of the ACA, or Obamacare, and puts in place a system of age-based tax credits for individuals to buy insurance.

It would "end Medicaid as we know it," as per Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), converting the program in 2020 from open-ended funding to a "per capita cap" system, where states would receive a set amount from the federal government for each person eligible for the program. "In the past, analysts have usually projected that spending caps like those in the Republican plan would lead to fewer people being covered and less generous benefits," Dylan Scott wrote at STAT.

The proposal would defund Planned Parenthood and other women's healthcare providers, as Common Dreams reported, and would roll back the ACA's requirement that health insurance plans cover "essential" benefits such as maternity care and mental health services.

Furthermore, columnist Michael Hiltzik wrote at the Los Angeles Times, "Everything from the tax on tanning salons and medical devices to the surcharge on high-income taxpayers will be gone. As we explained earlier, this amounts to an enormous tax cut for the wealthy -- at least $346 billion over 10 years, every cent going to taxpayers earning more than $200,000 ($250,000 for couples). The proposal would sharply raise the limits on contributions to tax-advantaged Health Savings Accounts -- another gimme for the rich."

Not only is this giveaway a slap in the face to middle-class workers, but it "advances Paul Ryan [and the] Koch brothers' major aim of abolishing Medicare," the Bernie Sanders-inspired political group Our Revolution declared on Monday night. Indeed, the Brookings Institution think tank confirmed: "Repealing the ACA's tax on high income households and hospitals would exhaust the Medicare Trust fund by 2024."

Meanwhile, "[p]oor, older adults would face the largest crunch," the New York Times reported. "The magnitude of their tax credits shrinks, even as a separate provision in the bill allows insurers to charge older people substantially higher prices than are allowed under the Affordable Care Act."

Plain and simple, journalist David Dayen wrote Tuesday at The Nation:

"Under this bill, the average American will be more likely to be uninsured, or insured with higher co-pays and deductibles, or 'covered' with a plan worth as much as the plastic insurance card it's issued on.

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