The Ultimate Death Panel

By Jason Taylor

The one requirement Republicans cannot stand about Obamacare is the requirement that makes it work — the mandate that everyone buy insurance. Yet this was how the Heritage Foundation originally envisioned a health care law and how it was written in Massachusetts.The only other option that gets everyone covered is universal health care — Medicare for all.

There are many so-called mandates already in our lives which cost all of us and which we accept as routine: mandatory auto insurance, mandatory education, mandatory airline screening, mandatory licenses for many everyday activities; some of these requirements, like voter IDs, Republicans eagerly promote. And lest we forget, the Supreme Court found the health care mandate constitutional. Ironically, or maybe not so ironically, the Affordable Care Act is more popular now than it has ever been. It is human nature that we suddenly appreciate something that is about to be taken away.

Republicans had years to come up with an alternative plan. They had years to study, to plan and to create something that benefited us all. They had time to remake themselves into the party of choice that brought real change to the citizens of the U.S. Change that would ease the burden of a population nervous about safety and anxious for the future. But they haven’t. Why? I just don’t understand. I don’t understand the disconnect. I can’t understand why I’m being made to feel off balance, disoriented in my own country that I have lived in my whole life.

I have only one question to ask of the Republicans. Surely if 24,000,000 people lose their health insurance, many will die. 10,000? 100,000? 500,000? What is an acceptable number to kill in order to give a huge tax cut to already wealthy people?

Trump, Ryan, and the whole disgusting bunch of Republicans well understand the mild obfuscation of using such nice-sounding words and phrases as “access” or “freedom to choose” or “markets.” it’s just part of their propaganda technique to make it all sound good, while actually concealing what they would rather we did not know. And, you just gotta love the switch from using “coverage” to “access” … the old bait-and-switch. Anyway, they should be called out to explain in detail just what they are talking about, not because we do not know or at least have a good idea, but to get them to own up to the truth.

What I would love to see are the actual and estimated mortality numbers that can be attributed to the lack of health care insurance. These can be for the ACA and the proposed Trumpcare. Since Medicaid covers many elderly and/or in poor health, the estimated mortality might be shocking. Welcome to the real Death Panels headed by Dr. Death Ryan. If Trumpcare passes, and I have not seen mentioned, but it seems likely that states’ income taxes would likely to have to increase to pay for the Medicaid shortfall. Under the guise, of course, of letting the states make their own decisions for their citizens … while the GOP cuts the Medicaid grants into oblivion.

The annual budget for the military is $598 Billion which is 54% of U.S. spending. The annual budget for Medicare and Health is $66 Billion, which is 6%. The $337 Billion ‘saved’ over 10 years by eliminating Affordable Care Act (ACA)now is about half of the annual military budget which is going up under Trump. Do we have our priorities in order?

The Republican defense that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was wrong on Obamacare just shows how bad the Republican replacement plan must really be. It is true that the CBO report was too optimistic on Obamacare. The CBO reports tend toward optimism-so what that tell us is not that the republican plan is better than reported, but that it must be even worse! If the numbers were off on Obamacare then they must be at least slightly off here too, so then surely even more than 24 million over the next 10 years will lose healthcare with the Republican’s Wealth-Care plan.

A few facts taken from the CBO report make clear what the American Health Care Act is all about:

  • $880 billion reduction due to termination of Medicaid Expansion plus capping traditional Medicaid expenditures
  • $673 billion reduction in subsidies of premiums and out-of-pockets for people making less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Limit

These huge reductions will result in most of the 24 million people who will lose coverage. All so that businesses and wealthier individuals can get big tax reductions: 

  • $244.3 billion reduction in taxes to business
  • $232.2 billion reduction in taxes to individuals in high tax brackets and/or with incomes high enough to get greater tax breaks from increased deductions
  • $324.2 billion reduction in various coverages and, therefore reductions in taxes mostly to those in higher tax brackets
  • $117.3 billion cut to Medicare Fund, which is a tax break to employers and workers

In short, a massive transfer from the poor to the wealthy that will also harm older adults. The CBO’s example is that in 2026 a 64 year old with income at 175% FPL would have a total premium of $15,300 under Obamacare and $19,500 under AHCA Under Obamacare the individual would get a subsidy of $13,600 vs. $4,900 under AHCA. Thus, the individual would have to pay $1,700 under Obamacare vs. $14,600 under AHCA. AHCA will be a disaster for older adults on low or fixed incomes.

The “health care plan” (it doesn’t even deserve that name) on the table just proves to the rest of the world that in the U.S., we are not our brother’s keeper. Instead, the “health care plan” offered by the Republicans proves that the ‘myth of meritocracy’ is alive and well.

In the U.S, whether you deserve health care depends on how deserving you are in the eyes of the ruling party. And apparently, in the eyes of Republicans, the elites are the most deserving of assistance in the form of huge tax cuts. That money has been supporting health care for millions of “now undeserving” citizens.

I can only imagine what people in other countries are thinking when they watch this tragedy unfold. I imagine they look down at the ground and shake their heads in disbelief that so many Americans actually voted for this kind of structural violence.

The GOP is counting on Trumpcare quickly making treatment impossible for people with serious illnesses who can’t afford insurance, trusting that these sufferers will be too busy trying to stay alive to protest… and will then die.

Soon, only Americans wealthy enough to become or remain healthy will be around to discuss Trumpcare, and of course, they’ll love it.

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