Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.
The American Healthcare Act has now passed in the House. Hospitals, Doctors and Insurers, the AMA, associations of Family Physicians, Pediatrics, Physicians, Obstetricians, Emergency Room Physicians, Gynecologists, Psychiatrists, Pediatricians, Nurses, Osteopaths, Heart Diabetes and Lung Associations, the AARP and Governors on both sides of the aisle all oppose it. The House GOP voted on the repeal bill without submitting its latest version the Congressional Budget Office. And with the bill moving on to the Senate, Colorado’s own Cory Gardner will be one of the central figures in crafting the Senate version of repeal and replace.
The repeal will hurt local economies. For example, manufacturing employment has fallen nearly 40 percent in northeastern Ohio since 2000, but the number of health care jobs in the region has jumped more than 30 percent over the same period. In rural areas nationwide, health care now accounts for one-fifth of all employment.
Here’s a reminder of what is being cut from Obamacare. Ask yourself how this will affect you, your family, your community:
Obamacare has given us record health coverage, including 95% coverage of children. The AHCA threatens the health coverage of more than 24 million Americans. Obamacare offers safeguards for people with pre-existing conditions, but states can now opt out of this provision. 129 million Americans have pre-existing conditions, including 86% of people age 55-64.
The AHCA is set up so if you temporarily can’t afford health insurance, it will cost you much more to get it back. Last year, 30 million people temporarily suspended their coverage due to financial strains.
The AHCA allows states to create high-risk pools. Shifting patients with costs greater than $60,000 in a year into a high-risk pool would save almost $300 in average premiums for the low-risk group, at a funding cost of more than $18 billion annually. The AHCA doesn’t provide anything near that amount. If only 5% of today’s individual and small-group enrollees needed high-risk coverage, 800,000 would be left out even if every state designated all its federal funds for a high-risk pool. Almost all 35 pre-Obamacare states who tried high-risk pools failed due to under-funding.
Even people with employer plans could lose coverage. The ban on annual and lifetime benefit limits apply only to essential health benefits as they’re defined by state law. Defines them narrowly, these protections dramatically drop.
The bill kills Medicaid expansion by 2020 and cuts traditional Medicaid by $800 billion. It defunds Planned Parenthood, and could render enrollees in health insurance plans in states such as California and New York, where abortion coverage is a required benefit of all health plans, ineligible for premium subsidies.
Tax credits in the House bill are largely tied to age instead of incomed; near-seniors over 50 will see tax credits shrink to $4000 and net expenses increase up to five-fold.
America’s wealthiest taxpayers will see an immediate tax cut totaling $346 billion over 10 years. Every cent of that would go to taxpayers earning more than $200,000 a year.
Here’s where Senator Cory Gardner comes in. He is one of 13 Senators tasked with crafting the Senate’s healthcare bill. He and three other Senators have already opposed the Medicaid cuts in the House bill. He and his more moderate GOP colleagues will be looking closely at defunding Planned Parenthood, cutting Medicaid expansion, weakening protections against pre-existing conditions, lifetime maximums, and other extremely unpopular measures in the House version. He is hearing from countless constituents about their personal stories and their opinions.
If you’d like to share your healthcare ideas about with Senator Cory Gardner, you can call, email, visit, or join in the many rallies around the state.