The GOP’s Replacement for Obamacare Is Leaving Millions Scared To Death…(Video)
On Sunday evening, John Oliver devoted the majority of Last Week Tonight to analyzing the GOP’s proposed replacement for the Affordable Healthcare Act (AHA), colloquially referred to as “Obamacare.” President Obama’s sweeping healthcare reform bill is a touchstone of the former president’s legacy, and one that provided millions of uninsured Americans with (in most cases) more affordable, comprehensive health insurance. During the campaign season, Trump promised to repeal and replace the AHA, but concrete details from his administration about what exactly his bill would entail were hard to come by. But recently, he announced the American Health Care Act.
As Oliver says, “the early reviews of this thing have been rough.” That’s because, as POLITICO reports, under the AHCA, 26 million Americans will lose coverage by 2026. And it isn’t just Democrats crying foul. Even Senate Republicans have made public statements disparaging Trump’s healthcare overhaul. Rand Paul went on Fox News recently and said even “conservatives hate their bill. It’s dead on arrival.” The American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, and AARP have all come out against AHCA, which Oliver calls “shitty Obamacare.” POLITICO is less euphemistic about it, providing statistics from the Office Management and Budget Office (OMB)’s report on the bill. “The analysis found that under the American Health Care Act, the coverage losses would include 17 million for Medicaid, 6 million in the individual market and 3 million in employer-based plans,” reads the report.
The implications here are widespread. “We need to take a look at what’s actually inside this thing,” says Oliver of the AHCA. The first major difference between AHA and AHCA, he reports, is that “it gets rid of Obamacare’s insurance tax credits” (based on things like income), and “replaced that with a flat tax credit based on age.” Getting more money the older you get seems sound enough – but are those credits enough to sufficiently cover healthcare costs? Well, sure. If you’re rich. Oliver uses the hypothetical example of a 60-year-old making $50,000 a year and living in Oklahoma. Under the ACA, you get $13,350 in health insurance tax credits, but by 2020, he AHCA will make it so you only get $4,000. It’s important to realize this example is not anecdotal; it’s an objective fact that low-income Americans will be railroaded by this flat tax – and that’s before even considering those eligible for Medicaid. “That’s where this bill gets really vicious,” Oliver warns.
What Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan calls “defederalizing an entitlement,” Oliver calls “cutting the living shit out of Medicaid.” The Center on Budget Policy and Priorities reports that the AHCA will shift $370 billion in Medicaid costs from the federal government to the states, which means states would have to somehow make that money appear from somewhere. Inevitably, many states will not be able to, which will in turn lead to millions of their residents without health insurance. “A total of 54 million individuals would be uninsured in 2026 under the GOP plan, according to this White House analysis,” reports POLITICO. “That’s nearly double the number projected under current law.”
Oliver brings up a great question regarding Trump’s health insurance proposal. If it’s so terrible for old people, poor people, and even Republicans and conservatives (read: Trump supporters) will suffer tremendously under its implementation, who exactly is the AHCA for? It’s at the 7:20 mark that another worrisome implication is revealed, though it isn’t exactly a surprising revelation. The wealthy and ultra-wealthy stand to benefit from AHCA’s tax cuts to such a degree that six-figure savings will become the norm. The top 0.1% could earn up to $197,000 in insurance tax cuts, while conservative estimates for the top 1% begin at around $33,000. “This plan is literally taking money from the poor and giving it to the very rich.” Again, Oliver underscores the fact that this isn’t liberal slandering of a Republican president’s policy. Republican governors are expressing grave concern about the AHCA’s implications, which alone is troubling. Very rarely in American history do governors and other politicians belonging to the same party as the president publicly disagree on policy.
The AHCA is massive, as far as the number of pages it contains, and it includes some astoundingly ridiculous mandates. Oliver chooses to focus on the following: “the Republican plan contains a section devoted to making sure people receiving government healthcare assistance who win the lottery are removed from the program in an orderly fashion.” Oliver points out this inane inclusion, a six-page section of a bill that is ostensibly meant to be focusing on making Americans healthier and more protected. “A not insignificant percentage of this bill is focused on the urgent matter of ‘what if one poor person suddenly becomes less poor?,” he asks sarcastically. It’s comedic to a degree, but emblematic of the stark reality that will affect us if the AHCA is enacted, and why we need to care about this issue as much as we care about, let’s say, the ridiculous things Trump tweets: if you’re not in the top 1%, any safety net you have as it pertains to covering the health of yourself and your family will become much smaller, if not disappear entirely.