Paul Ryan & House representatives passed the AHcA, a "moral monstrosity" in the words of Nancy Pelosi. (Image Credit: Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
Hi. Do you need a hug? I think you do. A lot of us need hugs. Yesterday sucked. Here’s a hug.
Ok, now that we’ve gotten that taken care of, let’s talk about healthcare laws.
I knnoooooowwwww. It’s the worst, and the House of Representatives is the worst for passing that piece of garbage bill yesterday, and it’s all the worst but we have to talk about it and make a plan for what to do next.
Here’s the deal. Speaker Ryan finally made good on his lifelong dream of making the U.S. health care delivery system even worse for poor people, sick people, old people, and children. He and 216 other Republican representatives (but no Democrats, FYI) voted to pass the American Health Care Act, which is an attempt to unmake everything that the Affordable Act (Obamacare, if you’re a nasty woman or bad hombre) did to make health insurance more accessible, more comprehensive, and less expensive.
Why is making health insurance inaccessible to millions a dream of the Speaker of the House? Because health insurance is expensive and if the federal government stops paying for it, it will be easier for the Speaker to balance the books when he cuts taxes on corporations and the wealthy. Among other things, Obamacare put regulations on health insurance companies that require them to sell insurance to anyone, regardless of health history; it set a list of essential benefits that all policies must cover; and, it created funds to help individuals cover their health issuance costs, as well as expanding Medicaid access for qualifying individuals.
All of this was financed with taxes on high earners. Still with me? Good. Well, like I said before, all of those things are expensive, and high earners like tax cuts, so the House of Representatives passed a bill gutting all the expensive things and repealing the taxes.
If enacted, this law would kick millions of people off Medicaid, cut subsidies to low income people, raise rates for people with certain health conditions, and potentially allow insurers in some states to deny policies to people with dozens of pre-existing conditions, including: pregnancy, cancer, asthma, mental health conditions, and… just for fun…sexual assault.
Does this mean that starting today we’re all going to be at war with our insurance companies? No. It does not.
This bill is not a law. The next stop on this flaming locomotive of garbage is the Senate. The Senate is known for being the greatest deliberative body in the world which means they often do things verrrryyyyyy slllooowwwllllyyyyy.
They are not going to pass the House version of the bill without significant revision. I suspect that they are in no rush to pass their own version of health care reform because it’s kind of a nightmare. I mean, just look at the headlines today about the House version. No one wants that kind of press.
My contention on the Senate’s intentions is borne out by a statement from Lamar Alexander, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pension. He told Politico yesterday that “We’re writing a Senate bill and not passing the House bill.” He went on to say, “There will be no artificial deadlines in the Senate. We’ll move with a sense of urgency but we won’t stop until we think we have it right.”
Now, Senator Alexander is no more liberal than his buddies across the Capitol, so don’t look for a Senate version to be universal healthcare or anything even close. The Senate Republicans are spending hawks and they want to fiddle with Medicaid funding and cut the taxes that pay for the subsidies. But they don’t have the same appetite to to change the regulatory aspects like guaranteed-issue mandates, or cut all the essential benefits out of the picture. Once we have a Senate version, they’ll go to conference with the House and pass a final version. There’s no telling now when that might happen. Possibly this summer.
What does that all mean for the resistance? It means that we lost a battle, but we have not lost the war. There are 100 Senators and every single one of them has a phone number that you can use to make yourself heard on this issue. They’ll be headed home for recess this weekend and you can show up at their local offices and drop off letters telling them how you feel about healthcare.
You can find out when their public events and town halls are and show up there to tell them what you think. Oh, and if they’re up for re-election in 2018? You can donate to their opponent if you don’t like what you hear from them. Let them know that’s on your mind.
Keep fighting, friends. I will be fighting alongside you all the way. Now here’s another hug because yeah. We all need it.
Image Credit: Flickr/Gage Skidmore