Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Trumpcare Threatens Low-Income Seniors’ Health Coverage

By Mildred Robertson
Having the choice to die from lack of health care rather than the lack of food or shelter is really not a choice at all. But that doesn’t seem to be much of a problem for Republican House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). You see, Ryan thinks the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessment of the Republican alternative to Obamacare is great. In fact, he says its assessment of the planned legislation exceeds his expectation.
Ryan touts this plan as “the most fundamental entitlement reform in a generation.” He appears to be oblivious to the fact that seniors with an annual income of $26,000 or less would be choosing to give up more than half their annual income if they choose to take advantage of his “free market” alternative to universal healthcare. So it appears disingenuous when he states that his plan is about giving people more and better health choices.
According to the CBO, a 21-year-old making $68,200 would pay an average of $1,450 for a year’s worth of insurance premiums after the new tax credits, compared with $5,100 under the current law. A senior who falls in the same income bracket would pay about the same for a year’s worth of premiums. But for those 64 year olds in the $26,500 income bracket the cost would rise from an annual premium of $1,700 under the Affordable Care Act to $14,600 under Trumpcare.
·         If your 21 years old and make $68,200 annually, your premiums will be about $1,450.
·         If you are 64 years old and make $68,200 annually, your payments would be about the same.
·         If you are 64 years old and make $26,500, your annual premium would skyrocket to $14,600.
So, that means redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich exceeds Speaker Ryan’s expectations. That means denying subsistence-level seniors the financial ability to acquire healthcare in order to give a tax break to those who need it the least exceeds Ryan’s expectations.
It is short-sighted to determine that it is not universally beneficial to our nation, regardless of a person’s age or infirmity, to have access to affordable, quality healthcare. We pay for the healthcare of those who opt out whether we want to or not.  And we generally pay more if the person must utilize the emergency room; or only seeks healthcare when the malady has progressed to a more severe and costly condition.
The CBO report indicates that as many as 24 million Americans will become uninsured under Trumpcare. Ryan says that is a good thing because it would be their choice. But his words ring hollow, because healthcare being available and being accessible are two different things. The CBO report indicates that healthcare would become anything but universal under the GOP plan, excluding millions.
Those 24 million uninsured represent our mothers, brothers and sisters…our children. They are real people, with real, beating hearts. It is irrelevant whether you are young or old, sick or healthy. Life is more important than a tax cut for the wealthy. The life of every citizen matters and one should not have to forfeit it for lack of money.
So while Trumpcare meets Speaker Ryan’s expectations, it does not meet mine. My expectation is that affordable healthcare is available for all Americans. My expectations is that every American facing a health crisis, regardless of age or income, should have the chance to live.

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