Colson: A word on the U.S. health care precipice
Hit & Run
As I write this, the nation is holding its breath.
At least that’s how it seems from where I sit, watching to see what the Congressional Budget Office has to say about the costs and effectiveness of Trumpcare, which President Donald Trump insists must be known as the American Health Care Act, or as one activist website derisively calls it, the Unaffordable Care Act (or UCA, in short).
The Congressional Budget Office, as you may know, is the nonpartisan agency that analyzes various types of legislation to determine what the fiscal effect of the proposed new law would be and how effective it would be.
Among the possible Congressional Budget Office findings that should be closely watched, according to The New York Times, are the following questions:
• What will the long-term cost be of implementing the UCA?
• How many people will lose health insurance coverage as a consequence of the UCA?
• How much will premiums (the regular payments by those insured) change under the UCA?
• How many people will lose Medicaid coverage, which was expanded under the previous administration’s Affordable Care Act (or ACA, which its critics derided as Obamacare)?
• How will employer-based insurance change?
I might add one question to that list: How can we overcome the ongoing tsunami of dishonest criticism of the soon-to-be-repealed ACA, criticism that started even before the ACA became law and which was more based on racist hatred of President Barack Obama than on any realistic, honest appraisal of the program’s impacts and benefits?
But, I digress.
Over the short time since details of the UCA became known (and they are not all known yet) it has become clear that Trumpcare will slash away at Medicaid (which provides health care to the poor) by an estimated $370 billion; make it more difficult for low-income residents to get access to health insurance and, as a consequence, health care; and add to our national deficit over 10 years by as much as $200 billion.
Because Trump also is promising huge cuts to the corporate tax rate, and perhaps $500 billion in tax relief to the wealthiest segment of our population, much of the money to pay for the UCA will actually be some $340 billion siphoned off from Medicare, which provides health care to retirees and the elderly.
According to some estimates, Trumponomics (as I like to call the president’s financial fantasies) will shave years off the life of the Medicare trust fund by depleting the fund due to a loss of tax revenue.
Previous estimates by some experts have shown the trust fund going broke around the year 2029, but under Trumpcare that date would slip back to 2025. Of course, all such estimates are mostly smoke, mirrors and pessimism, since there are ways to keep this critically important fund solvent.
But why would our elected representatives (Republicans, mainly) go along with the thievery described above you ask?
Well, one big reason is that all members of Congress have long gotten subsidized health care in one form or another. That’s right, they benefit from a socialized health-care program while demanding that you cannot do so.
On top of that, an uncomfortable percentage of our elected national representatives are either attorneys who historically have made many times the annual income of most Americans, or they are outright millionaires from one industry or another, meaning that many of them either have forgotten or never knew what’s it’s like being a wage-slave in the modern U.S.
They’ve made theirs and the rest of us should have done the same, so we should just stop complaining — that seems to be the prevalent attitude among Republicans, to be sure, and even some Democrats.
Never mind that it is an abiding attribute of capitalism that not everybody can be rich. Somebody’s got to do the actual work, and those who do the work are not the highest paid in any corporate structure.
In fact, there have been studies that show the top corporate bosses earn anywhere from 10 to 40 times as much annual income as those who actually do the work that brings in all those profits.
Get the picture?
For the top economic tier, then, health care costs may not be much of a problem, but for the rest of us this is a very big problem, one that can lead to financial insolvency in cases of catastrophic illness or injury.
So health insurance is, unfortunately, kind of important to those of us clinging to the bottom rungs of America’s financial ladder.
Obama’s ACA, despite glitches engineered by its Republican detractors, seemed to be working just fine, or getting there, for most of us.
Trumpcare, on the other hand, already seems like a bad deal for a majority of Americans, and it’s not even been adopted yet.
I must note that I was cheered to see that Colorado’s Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is one of the few in his party that have been edging away from supporting the UCA primarily out of concern for Medicaid.
Give him a call of congratulations and support (I did) at 202-224-5941 — he needs to know he is on the right side of this issue.
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