The Denome’s Advocate: Healthcare

By Thomas Denome

In a recent column, I mentioned that I own a shirt with the First Amendment written on it and how President Trump is making a part of that shirt, the right to a free press, obsolete. However, among my other clothes, I have a several-year-old white shirt with the words “Proud to be on ObamaCare” inscribed the on the front.

In my case, this shirt is admittedly false. In the chaos that ensued following the original passing of the Affordable Care Act, I had my mom buy this shirt for me as a show of support to President Obama’s signature healthcare law. However, even if I was to be covered by the legislation now, this shirt could possibly become obsolete as well.

As it stands now, the House of Representatives is debating a bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), that would effectively repeal Obamacare and replace it with a more conservative approach to healthcare. And while Obamacare is flawed, even to me, a liberal thrilled by the impact of the legislation, repealing it could possibly be catastrophic for millions of Americans.
Right now, 20 million Americans have medical coverage because of Obamacare or similar legislation, according to CNN Money. Many of these people are covered by Medicaid, health insurance for low-income or elderly people. However, under the AHCA, expansion of Medicaid would be capped, preventing some low-income seniors from getting health coverage.

It is easy to see why this would be a problem. However, the Republican leadership seems to either not realize this, or not care.

President Trump himself has come out for cutting the Medicaid expansion, despite promising otherwise during the presidential campaign. On top of that, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), a proponent of the bill, supports it despite that literally 100 percent of people over 65 in his home state are covered, in part because of Wisconsin’s use of Obamacare to expand its Medicaid program, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

However, it’s to give credit where credit is due and acknowledge that conservatives such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) have come out against the GOP bill. However, Paul’s reasoning is that the new legislation is simply “Obamacare Lite,” and that the new bill doesn’t fix any of Obamacare’s problems.

And that is only covering one facet of the law that Republicans are promising to repeal. Among other beneficial programs that the GOP is threatening are cost-sharing on healthcare plans, tax increases on high income individuals who can afford it and raising the amount of money that insurers can charge young adults for health insurance.

And the Republican defense for all this? Rep. Jason Chaffetz has argued that instead of buying a new iPhone, low-income individuals could spend their money on healthcare.

This is hilariously dumb on so many levels, to the point where you wonder if Chaffetz has ever seen the health care bills of a sick constituent, or even himself. As the Lt. Governor of California pointed out, an iPhone literally costs about one-twentieth as much as the amount the U.S. spends on healthcare per person yearly. Keep in mind that number is only the average. Bills for the treatment of cancer can span anywhere from $5,000 to over $100,000, depending on the type of cancer, according to cancer.gov.

The AHCA would not ease these problems. And while Obamacare has many issues on it’s own, such as the individual mandate, which penalizes those without coverage, it seems to be a whole lot better and more thought out than what conservatives are putting forward.

However, what concerns me most, and should concern you, too, is that the right doesn’t seem to even care that their plan is flawed. Ever since taking back control of the White House in November, all Republicans have done on the healthcare front is push for a repeal and replace plan for Obamacare. And yet, it seems that the latter half of that, replace, might be optional to conservatives. According to the Associated Press, Republicans are looking to push their bill to the president by the end of this month, despite all of it’s flaws.

And that makes me, an upper-middle class educated young adult, worried for everyone in the country.