Student Commentary: Republican Health Care Plan is a Failure

Mayank Sharma, Staff Writer

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Obamacare wasn’t perfect, but it did a lot of things right: it mandated preventative treatment to reduce emergency treatment, reduced insurance inflation rates from 4 percent to 0.5 percent, allowed children to stay on their parent’s plan until age 26, ensured coverage for pre-existing conditions, and gave tax credits to businesses and the working class to make insurance more affordable.

After years of screaming about how Obamacare was actually a job killer–and about how it was a communist takeover and a burden on the economy, and about the implementation of death panels, and an inevitable increase in the national deficit–and being wrong every time, Republicans finally have a chance to replace it with a better alternative.

Say hello to the American Health Care Act…and then kiss it goodbye as it hits the floor of Congress dead on arrival. Rand Paul can finally stop wandering around the basement with his printer and enjoy, with the rest of us, the mess that is the Obamacare replacement as it takes fire from Democrats and Republicans alike.

The AHCA will cut Medicaid funding for many previously eligible Medicaid recipients under Obamacare. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office released a report on March 13th concluding that while the AHCA would reduce the government’s deficit, it would also cut government-assisted funding for 14 million people, especially for the elderly. By 2026, that number could jump to 24 million Americans.

Premiums would increase for lower income earners as they drop for higher income earners.

Interestingly, there are significant tax breaks for the wealthy under the new plan. Insurance companies in particular would gain money as limits on executive salaries will be eliminated.

The plan integrates Health Savings Accounts, a tax-based approach to establish a fund for individuals to later use. However, there’s always a problem with tax-based approaches to any kind of policy; if you don’t have a lot of money to begin with, then you’re not saving a lot with a tax cut. To paraphrase Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, integrating Health Savings Accounts is like saying “you may not have any money, but here’s a really nice piggy bank in case you ever do”.

The bill also dedicates a significant portion of itself to arbitrary matters — 10 pages of the bill entail how lottery winners should be exempt from certain benefits, finally resolving the sudden influx of lottery-winning working-class citizens that’s almost as bad as Obama’s death panels.

And finally, it strips funding to Planned Parenthood, a cornerstone of health provision for women, and any other organization that offers to perform abortions without a significant compelling circumstance such as rape or incest. Lower-income women can’t use their subsidized insurance if it goes toward a plan that covers abortions.

The bill has significant opposition from almost every group — Democrats obviously oppose it as it flies in the face of Obamacare (especially after seeing its recent burst of popularity), moderate Republicans believe it goes too far in dropping enrollees and defunding medical programs, and extreme conservatives believe it doesn’t go far enough.

Among those opposing the bill on the conservative side are Senators Cruz (R-TX), Cotton (R-AR), Collins (R-ME), the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and FreedomWorks.

On the liberal side, nearly every medical association that supported Obamacare has turned against the American Health Care Act. Democratic politicians are staunchly opposed to it.

As of now, the bill is just one vote away from death, and the vote is predicted to hit the floor on Thursday. Unfortunately, there’s not much that we can do about it here in liberal California, except to hope that the combination of rowdy town halls and political pressure compels just one more Republican to turn away from the pack.

Obamacare was a huge step in the right direction of health care — the closer we get to a single-payer system, the better for us all. Republicans need to put aside their vindictive attitude toward everything Obama so much as looked at and start working toward a reasonable policy instead.

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