Americans received a second chilling diagnosis about how bad healthcare will be for tens of millions or more if the plan Republicans have in store for them, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), passes Congress and is signed into law by President Donald Trump.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Wednesday scored the final version of the AHCA designed by House Republicans, reporting that 23 million people would lose healthcare insurance by 2026, as for-profit insurance companies would again be free to hike premium rates at will.

An alternate view on the ACA (Obamacare) was performed by Health and Human Services (HHS), based on data from the Obama Administration, finding health insurance premiums have more than doubled over the last four years under Obamacare. HHS Sec. Tom Price tweeted that healthcare premiums have gone up 105 percent since 2013, one year before the Obamacare regulations were fully implemented

Ohio’s senior senator in Washington, Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, moved swiftly following today’s CBO score to issue his statement on the bill and CBO’s scoring of it.

“Anyone with common sense knows that paying more for less is a bad deal,” Brown in prepared remarks. “The House bill will drive up costs, kick Ohioans off their insurance, and leave folks who have asthma or cancer unable to even purchase a plan. I agree with Governor Kasich: we cannot allow Washington politicians with taxpayer-funded health insurance to rip coverage away from Ohioans who are battling cancer, getting regular checkups for the first time or finally getting treatment for their opioid addiction. Instead of moving forward with this bill, we need to work together to reduce costs and improve care for those we serve.”

According to the CBO, Browns office said the House bill would cause premiums to go up an average of about 20 percent next year and increase the number of uninsured to 23 million by 2026. The CBO also found the bill would cause costs to rise so dramatically for people with pre-existing conditions that they would be unable to purchase individual insurance plans.

Republican U.S. Rep Pat Tiberi, who recently declined to take on Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel in next year’s primary race to challenge Brown running for a third term, said Obamacare has driven up costs and forced insurers out of the marketplace.

“The Congressional Budget Office again projected today that the American Health Care Act will lower premiums, reduce the deficit and provide relief from the massive tax burden that Obamacare has forced on middle-income families,” he said. “As I said when it passed the House, AHCA is just the start. House Republicans and the Administration will continue to focus on additional steps we can take to restore the free market, increase choices and lower costs so that Americans can afford the plans they want and need.”

Leslie Dach, director of Protect Our Care Campaign, said the CBO’s scored “confirmed yet again any health care repeal cuts coverage for millions, increases health costs for everyday people, and eliminates protections millions rely on — all to give massive tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and insurance and drug companies.”

Dach isn’t happy that Republicans are undertaking secret working sessions when they should be holding public hearings. Her concern is the AHCA won’t increase coverage or lower costs or keep ACA’s current protections.

“It’s time for the Senate to abandon partisan repeal of the ACA and instead work across the aisle to keep what works and fix what doesn’t — not tear our health care apart… The lives and financial security of millions of Americans are on the line.”

How would Ohioans be impacted by the bill? Let’s count the ways:

  • As the opioid crisis is sweeping the nation, it would also cause 151,257 Ohioans suffering from mental illness or substance use disorder to lose access to critical mental health services made available through Medicaid expansion.

  • AARP opposes it because it raises premiums five times more on people over 50 — what they call an ‘age tax,’ increasing the average cost per enrollee by $13,083 by 2020 for Americans over 55. These estimates would jump to $19,109 by 2026.

  • It includes a giveaway to insurance companies: if your insurance lapses for more than 63 days, insurance companies will charge you 30 percent more when you sign up for insurance again.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood of America, said the CBO reaffirmed that the bill “would devastate health care across America, leave millions uninsured, increase premiums and deductibles, and prevent millions from getting essential health care at Planned Parenthood.” 

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education.

“The American Health Care Act is the worst legislation for women’s health in a generation,” Laguens added. “This bill cruelly slashes Medicaid — which one in five women of reproductive age rely on — while prohibiting millions with Medicaid coverage from getting health care at Planned Parenthood.”

One in five women in America has relied on Planned Parenthood, Laguens said, and their health care shouldn’t be subject to Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s extreme agenda. She called on the U.S. Senate to reject the bill.

Democrats, independents and moderates have many issues to whip in next year’s mid-term elections. Among issues that play into Democratic hands is health care, and efforts by Republicans to redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich, as they remove ACA subsidies funded by taxes on the wealthiest.

Calling the bill fatally flawed, the New York Times cut to the chase: “Its objective is to reduce federal spending on health insurance for the middle class, poor, sick, elderly and disabled in order to cut taxes for the wealthy.”

If Republicans continue to act fraudulently by talking country over party, then use partisanship to let Trump run roughshod through the U.S. Constitution, Democrats have an opportunity to use GOP profiles in cowardice to win back voters in 2018 so they can regain control of Congress and the quality of healthcare Republicans are in a terrible hurry to trash.

Republicans can dwell on faux issues like debt and deficits while Democrats dwell on living or dying when America returns to the days before the ACA, when for-profit healthcare insurers did what they want , to whom they wanted, knowing federal regulations would be lax and unenforced.

The terrible score given by the CBO on the AHCA could be terribly important to people, groups and institutions who see the AHCA as a bad bill gone worse and want to reverse course before it’s too late.

 

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