EDITORIAL: Trump plan: Profit over people

York Dispatch
  • Speaker Paul Ryan wants to push the health bill through the House in weeks.
  • He appears to be off to a good start, though opposition is building.

Republicans last week made strides on passing new health care legislation as part of their campaign promise to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. A second key House panel approved a bill to end the health law and fundamentally restructure Medicaid for low-income people, The Associated Press reported.

FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2015, file photo, Planned Parenthood supporters rally for women's access to reproductive health care on "National Pink Out Day'' at Los Angeles City Hall. One of President-elect Donald Trump’s first, and defining, acts next year could come on Republican legislation to cut off taxpayer money from Planned Parenthood. Trump sent mixed signals during the campaign about the 100-year-old organization which provides birth control, abortions and various women's health services. He said "millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood," but also endorsed efforts to defund it. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

The House Energy and Commerce Committee cleared the GOP bill Thursday on a party-line vote of 31-23 — after more than 27 hours of debate. The Ways and Means Committee approved the legislation earlier in the day.

With backing from President Donald Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan wants to push the bill through the House in weeks. Ryan appears to be off to a good start, though opposition is building.

Officials: Repeal of Medicaid expansion ‘disastrous’ for Pa.

Hospitals, doctors, and consumer groups are warning of large coverage losses and cost shifts if the bill is signed into law as written.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has weighed in as well, with an email campaign imploring citizens to sign a petition telling Trump they oppose the legislation.

Meanwhile, a political group tied to House Republican leaders, the American Action Network, is running TV ads to pressure hard-line conservative leaders of the House Freedom Caucus on the proposal.

Many in that group have opposed the GOP-drafted health care overhaul. They say the measure creates costly tax credits and doesn't end former President Barack Obama's law swiftly, including its Medicaid expansion.

Wolf’s letter outlines what he sees as the fundamental problems with Trump’s plan, called the American Health Care Act. He wrote:

  • More than 2.8 million Pennsylvanians are enrolled in Medicaid.
  • More than 700,000 of them gained coverage only after the expansion that Wolf put in place as a part of the Affordable Care Act after taking office.
  • The plan could be “a matter of life and death — especially for those receiving life-saving addiction treatment that has finally begun to drive back the opioid epidemic" statewide.
  • Older Pennsylvanians also would be hit especially hard, as the proposed law would allow insurance companies to charge them five times as much as others, while drastically reducing subsidies that have made their care affordable. According to an analysis from Standard & Poor's, a 64-year-old could see annual premium increases of almost 30 percent.
  • People who have lived and worked in our communities, sometimes for their entire lives, will suddenly be at the mercy of health insurance companies who will no longer be restricted from charging them higher premiums than the rest of us. Women, in particular, will be hurt by the defunding of Planned Parenthood and restrictions on reproductive care.
  • While the Congressional Budget Office has yet to calculate the costs, independent analysis has already reported that Trump's plan could force up to 10 million people to lose their health insurance and that costs for the average enrollee would go up by at least $1,500.

Wolf has reached out to five key congressmen who serve on pivotal House committees asking them to vote “no” on the plan — Tim Murphy, Ryan Costello, Mike Doyle, Pat Meehan and Mike Kelly.

And here in York, we should keep tabs on our reps, who will likely vote along party lines — Republicans Scott Perry and Pat Toomey and Democrat Bob Casey — as well. Perry, in fact, as part of the House Freedom Caucus, doesn’t think the legislation goes far enough.

Their constituents should remember their names when deciding whether to re-elect them, particularly if this legislation turns out to be as profit-over-people driven as it appears.