“I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” Donald Trump told the Daily Signal in 2015. Trump has repeated this pledge to protect Medicaid multiple times via Twitter. He’s also broken it multiple times.
In May, Trump celebrated the passage of the GOP House bill (AHCA) which cuts Medicaid funding by $800 billion. On Thursday, Trump voiced his support for the Senate GOP health care bill… which also cuts Medicaid.
The Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) places caps on Medicaid funding, ending the open-ended aspect of the program as it currently exists. This will likely lead to states choosing who receives Medicaid benefits… and who doesn’t.
Defending the BCRA to CNN’s Dana Bash, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price explained:
“We would not have individuals lose coverage that they want for themselves and for their family.”
This is a blatant lie.
In 2021, the BCRA begins to phase out the Obamacare Medicaid expansion over three years.
14,409,600 Americans currently enrolled under the Obamacare Medicaid expansion would lose coverage under the Republican health care plan.
The majority of federal funding for Planned Parenthood comes from reimbursements through Medicaid. The BCRA blocks Medicaid payments for a year to the health care provider, effectively defunding Planned Parenthood. This is also a great time to point out that not a single woman was involved in the drafting of the BCRA.
Once Price leaves his position of HHS secretary, he should seriously consider auditioning for a community theatre production of Pinocchio.
Many critics have described the BCRA as a thinly veiled tax cut for the rich at the price of the nation’s most vulnerable… and they’re right.
Under Obamacare, Medicare is partly funded by a 0.9% Medicare payroll tax on singles earning over $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000. In addition, the same earners potentially face a 3.8% tax on investment income. The BCRA scraps both of these taxes.
On the issue of increasing premiums, Price told Bash:
“The plan in its entirety will absolutely bring premiums down, because you increase competition, you increase choices for individuals.”
Under current law, older consumers can not be charged by insurers more than three times the rate of younger consumers. Under the GOP plan, older consumers can now be charged up to five times more. Did Price even read the plan he’s defending?
Obamacare calculated the federal subsidies using the silver plan. The BCRA calculates subsidies using the bronze plan… which means people can be charged more for less comprehensive coverage.
Let’s take a look at the birthplace of Republican Iowa Senator Joni Ernst (who could be voting on this bill possibly as early as Thursday). A sixty-year-old earning $50,000 in Montgomery County, Iowa pays an after-tax credit silver premium of $5,100 under Obamacare. Under the BCRA, the same after-tax credit premium rises to $19,220.
You can use Kaiser’s interactive map to find out how the BCRA will affect your county here.
On the 2016 campaign trail, Trump reached out to communities reeling from the opioid epidemic facing our nation.
During a Columbus, Ohio town hall Trump said of the people struggling with opioid addiction:
“We’re going to work with them, we’re going to spend the money, we’re going get that habit broken.”
Harvard University health economics professor Dr. Richard Frank estimates 34% of addicted opioid users are covered under Medicaid (99,000 of whom gained coverage through the Obamacare expansion).
GOP Senators Rob Portman and Shelly Moore Capito have requested $45 billion to fight the opioid epidemic. Dr. Frank estimates the nation will need $190 billion to effectively address the crisis (due to additional health issues that addicted users acquire).
How does the BCRA off-set the costs of losing Medicaid? It sets aside $2 billion for the opioid crisis. That’s it.
The BCRA also gives states the option to issue a waiver out of covering the essential health benefits established under Obamacare, which includes “Mental health and substance use disorder services.” You may want to rethink that one, guys.
One person noticeably absent from advocating for this bill is Trump himself. In contrast, President Obama discussed his health care plan with the American people on numerous occasions, including during a nearly hour-long briefing in July 2009.
Honestly, Donald Trump would not even be able to explain how the BCRA will affect the American people if he had to. He doesn’t know and he doesn’t care (Trump finally criticized the GOP House bill due to the negative press coverage). He views the success of the BCRA as nothing more than a political win for his administration… at the expense of the American people.
Watching administration officials selling the BCRA on this week’s Sunday morning shows is like watching the Jawas pushing the sale of R5-D4 onto Uncle Owen… this policy has a bad motivator.
If this bill were to become law, millions of Americans would find themselves without health coverage while others would face increased premiums and deductibles (all of which is nearly certain to be confirmed in this week’s CBO score).
If President Trump gets his “win,” the American people will lose.
Update: According the CBO, the GOP health care plan will result in an additional 22 million uninsured Americans by 2026. The plan also cuts Medicaid by $772 billion.
Under the BRCA, average premiums for benchmark plans for single individuals would increase 20% more than current law in 2018. In 2019, premiums would be 10% higher in comparison to current law.
In 2020, premiums drop to 30% lower than under the current law. Don’t get too excited. The CBO explains the reason behind the drop:
“A combination of factors would lead to that decrease—most important, the smaller share of benefits paid for by the benchmark plans and federal funds provided to directly reduce premiums.”