Of all the distressing numbers related to the Republican so-called American Health Care Act, narrowly passed last week in the House, none is as disturbing as those forecast by the Harvard Medical School and the Cambridge Health Alliance. According to a study in 2009, nearly 45,000 people die each year because they lack health insurance.
“Uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts,” the study reported.
This study was released eight years ago. We can expect those numbers to climb if the Senate approves the bill, which faces stiff opposition, even from a few Republican senators.
Even before the vote was passed last Thursday, 217 to 213, to repeal and replace Obamacare, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer warned the moderate Republicans that the bill won’t make it through the Senate.
“The reality is TrumpCare cannot pass the Senate,” Schumer said. Earlier he had asked the moderate Republicans in the House, “Why would you risk a yes vote for a bill that is devastating to your constituents and has virtually a minuscule chance, virtually no chance of becoming law?” They may feel the effects of this vote during the midterm elections.
Meanwhile, President Trump was ebullient and celebrated the victory with House Republican leaders, including Speaker Paul Ryan.
“This has brought the Republican Party together,” Trump declared, crowing over the victory.
Like Trump’s proposal on tax reform, the revised bill, which had failed on a previous vote, is a windfall for the wealthy and terrible blow to the indigent and elderly. The bill will slash the Medicaid budget, increase premiums and imperil those with pre-existing medical conditions.
A recent Quinnipiac University survey reported that 56 percent of those polled expressed disapproval of changes proposed to Obamacare. That was back in March and those numbers may climb even higher if the measure succeeds in the Senate.
The revised bill has very little wiggle room in the Senate, given the rules of “reconciliation,” in which the Republicans can only lose two senators and still pass the bill because Democrats will unanimously oppose it.
Some of the same issues that surfaced about rushing Obamacare through are pertinent now, but of course the shoe is on the other foot.
Although the bill does not completely eradicate Obamacare, certain provisions, none more critical than pre-existing conditions, are jeopardized and all of this bill may be mute if the Senate objects.
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said the bill will not make muster in the Senate without major adjustments. “The safest thing to say is there will be a Senate bill, but it will look at what the House has done and see how much of that we can incorporate in a product that works for us in reconciliation,” he said.
Vice President Mike Pence said that essentially Obamacare “is dead.”
Not quite, but it’s on life support as TrumpCare looms.