I’m writing this quick blog in response to the blazing speed by which the United State Senate is moving to pass health care legislation that will decimate care that our neediest citizens receive and at the same time increase wealth inequity in our country so that the wealthiest become wealthier. There is no more pressing issue at this moment, given how rapidly this legislation is moving, without hearings, sufficient debate, or compromise. The current Senate plan just announced is in fact the work of a handful of White men (some things never change), Republicans, who huddled together without any input from those with diverse opinions.
What they have proposed has been called even “meaner” than the House bill. It would decimate Medicaid, the insurance for the poor, the disabled, and for most babies born in this country (1 out of 3 people in California are Medi-Cal recipients). It will lead to more people losing their health coverage. And it will grant tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, the ones who need that the least.
Read what experts are saying. Take for example, the following from Drew Altman, president and chief executive of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. He writes:
(B)oth plans [House and Senate] will cause more Americans to go without coverage and struggle with health care bills. Both bills are likely to increase the number of Americans having problems paying medical bills — about a quarter of the public today.
And in terms of decimating Medicaid:
Both the Senate and the House plans also impose a per capita cap on future federal Medicaid spending. The Senate plan imposes a harsher formula for its cap than the House plan, which already cuts Medicaid spending by $834 billion over 10 years. Because states have to balance their budgets every year, unlike the federal government, many will struggle to compensate for reductions in federal aid caused by a spending cap. Many states will be forced to choose between Medicaid and other priorities, like education, law enforcement and prisons. The inevitable result will be a reduction in health care spending on low-income people. And you cannot cut over $800 billion from Medicaid without adversely affecting health services for the poor.
In fact, a recent poll conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation finds that most Americans are in favor of maintaining Medicaid. The headline from their study:
Large Majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans Want Continued Federal Funding for Medicaid Expansion.
And they find:
When asked about this proposed change, seven in 10 (71%) say Medicaid should largely continue as it is today, while fewer (26%) say it should be changed to limit federal funding while letting states decide who and what to cover. Democrats and independents largely favor the status quo (90% and 70%, respectively) while Republicans split, with similar shares supporting the status quo (47%) and the alternative (48%).
A recent Op-Ed piece by California Senator Kamala Harris in the LA Times also highlights key points to know about the assault on health care that the Republicans in Congress are waging. Senator Harris writes:
Republicans are trying to ram their healthcare proposal through the Senate with little to no transparency. There have been no hearings, no debate, and hardly any time to examine the details of the proposal. We are being asked to vote blindly on a bill that has life-or-death consequences for those we represent.
Here’s what we know: The Senate Republican plan would throw millions of Americans off their insurance, including potentially up to 5 million Californians. It would raise costs for middle-class families and seniors. It would put Americans with preexisting conditions at risk and cut hundreds of billions from Medicaid and Medi-Cal, which pays for everything from substance abuse treatment to support for children with special needs. That’s unacceptable.
A recent episode of Charlie Rose also featured some experts on health care and provides important information.
It is time for all of us to act. One measure to take now: call the Senate: 844-432-0883. The prompt asks you to put in your zip code to then get the option to be connected to your senators. For those of us in California, we might want to express support for our Senators in opposing this legislation. And we might want to put in zip codes for states with Republican Senators to let them know how wrong this legislation is and how people will, in 2018 and 2020, remember and vote out those responsible for it should it come to pass.