Fricke column: Medicaid for all, not Trumpcare, is the solution
Soon, the July Fourth congressional recess will be over and members of Congress will be back in Washington trying to anger more Americans with passage of Trumpcare, Ryancare (American Health Care Act) or McConnellcare.
Whatever name the media labels it, this health-care bill is the worst possible scenario for Americans. According to recent Associated Press coverage, Trump is pushing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and a core group of conservative Republicans very hard for a complete repeal of Obamacare and start over with a totally new plan at a later time.
McConnell has reminded Trump that the replacement program would have to be ready for implementation immediately and not sometime down the road. It sounds like Trump doesn’t care whether Americans have health insurance.
Let’s do a quick review of a few major issues with Trumpcare. The Congressional Budget Office report estimates that 14 million will lose coverage by 2018. It further estimates that lost coverage escalates to 19 million by 2020 and 23 million by 2026.
The CBO report states: “In 2026, an estimated 51 million people under the age of 65 would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under the current law.” According to the AP reports, Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 will be the most affected by coverage losses, especially lower-income Americans.
Trumpcare will cut $772 billion by 2026 from Medicaid, which provides health insurance to more than 70 million poor and disabled Americans. The shocking news in the AP coverage was that 15 million of the 22 million to 23 million losing coverage would be Medicaid recipients.
Almost half of the babies born in America are covered by Medicaid. In addition, nearly 40 percent of children and two-thirds of nursing-home residents are covered by Medicaid. Medicaid also covers the blind, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, adult flu shots and children’s vaccines.
Another wrong move by Trump and the Republicans is the tax cut in this bill for the wealthy 1 percent and medical companies. This amounts to an estimated $700 billion in tax cuts over the next decade. This tax helps pay for the current program.
The CBO report emphasized that the stability of insurance coverage under Trumpcare will be challenged across the country. It is clear to see that there would be considerable instability with Trumpcare. This instability will cause disruptions in the insurance markets and cause premiums and deductibles to skyrocket. This instability would lead to the big insurance companies like Aetna, Blue Cross and UnitedHealthcare to bail altogether.
Millions of Americans will bail on Trumpcare as well. After reading portions of the CBO report, Trumpcare becomes a more complicated mess more than Obamacare ever was. This complicated mess will turn into pure chaos.
The AP coverage indicates that moderate Republicans are not pleased with the current bill. Nurses, doctors, hospitals and the AARP remain opposed to Trumpcare. The time is ripe for Democrats to introduce single-payer or a Medicare-for-all legislation. This legislation is the political weapon that Democrats could use to bust Trumpcare. I am deeply concerned that Democrats are not pushing one of these plans right now.
Consider the fact that 70 million poor, working poor and disabled Americans are insured with Medicaid. Consider that roughly 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day (3.65 million yearly) and many enroll in Medicare. Current Medicare enrollment is 55 million.
My research finds that the overall poverty level in America is approaching 100 million due largely to growing inequality in America. Medicare and Medicaid need to be stretched a little more to cover all the poverty-stricken. This would give America Medicare/Medicaid-for-all.
These two programs are already in place and work very well. This is the only way to efficiently manage health-care insurance for America’s growing poor population.
We need to dump Trumpcare, gradually phase-out Obamacare and outlaw expensive supplemental health insurance for Medicare enrollees. Let’s go with a simple and less expensive health insurance system by going with a Medicare/Medicaid-for-all program or some form of universal health insurance system.
It will become less expensive by being less complicated and more efficient. A special tax on the health insurance companies and Big Pharma can help pay for this new health insurance program. This is where we need to start over. America’s growing inequality demands a Medicare/Medicaid-for-all plan. Health insurance is a human right and we need it for everyone in America.
Randy Fricke is an environmental advocate and a political activist who lives in New Castle. He is the author of “If I Were President/Saving Main Street America.”
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