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Monday, July 24, 2017

San Antonio Express News- opinion echo: Vote no to GOP repeal

San Antonio newspaper is calling on the two Texas senators to oppose the Republican health insurance initiative.  Please!
Republicans are abusing the promise made by Donald Trump to provide better health insurance coverage for Americans by creating a conduit to tax cuts for the rich while cutting benefits for poor and middle class.  Senator Angus King labeled this strategy "shift and shaft". 
Shaft the poor to shift money to the rich.  

Donald Trump promised to provide a better health insurance coverage policy than what Republicans are offering.  Instead, the Republicans are shifting a tax cut to the rich by shafting health care for the poor and middle class.

Senate health care bill fails the country

We urge Texas senators to unite — in opposition.

This bill is bad for Texas and bad for the country.

With the Senate poised to vote on the repeal bill.

To pass, the bill will require at least 50 senators with a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence.

There are myriad of flaws in the GOP bill.

Texas Senator John Cornyn, of course, is, as majority whip, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate. So, his support for the measure comes as no surprise, as it is essentially Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s baby. 

Nonetheless, there are compelling reasons Cornyn should break with McConnell and the majority of Senate Republicans on this bill.

On the whole, it is similar enough to the House measure to render it awful. But that’s actually the wrong comparison. The Senate measure should be compared to Obamacare, which, by helping insure some 20 million Americans, reduced the number of uninsured people in this country generally.

The positives: Parents will still be able to keep their children as old as 26 on their policies.

And then it gets very bad after that.

Thirty-one states expanded Medicaid under the ACA to help low-income people get coverage. The federal government paid 100 percent of that expansion cost for the first three years, capped at 90 percent afterward. Texas was foolish to forgo this.

But the Senate bill would, quite aside from the expansion, cut the traditional program more severely than the $800 billion over the next 10 years the House planned, experts say. It would just do it more slowly.

More than half of Texas children are covered under either Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, said Ann Dunkelberg, associate director for the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin. Medicaid, she said, pays for a substantial number of Texas babies born every year as well. 

And not as well known, seniors also benefit from Medicaid.

Obamacare provided subsidies for lower-income people to pay for out-of-pocket expenses, such as deductibles and co-pays. The Senate preserves these for two years and then ends them altogether. Higher deductibles will result, as will, consequently, fewer people covered. Also ensuring this: the Senate version eliminates the penalties for adults who don’t purchase health coverage, the so-called individual mandate. More than 900,000 Texans were getting subsidies through the Obamacare exchanges.

It also eliminates penalties for larger companies if they don’t provide affordable insurance to their employees.

Obamacare banned insurers from charging their oldest customers more than three times what they charge their youngest. The Senate raises that to five times as much.

As with the House measure, the Senate defunds Planned Parenthood for one year. This, no doubt, is just another chapter in the nation’s abortion saga, but the organization does not use government funds for abortions and provides a bevy of other health services that keep low-income women, in particular, healthy — and helps prevent the pregnancies that can lead to abortions. This cut is simply foolish.

The Senate bill changes the tax credit formulas that help people afford their premiums through the exchanges to make them less generous. This is puzzling. One of the biggest complaints about Obamacare was that, even with the subsidies and tax credits, costs were still painful for many. A tweaking of Obamacare could fix that. But the Senate would make coverage even more expensive in the long run.

This bill masquerades as a health care measure, but is actually a massive tax cut for the wealthy. It eliminates most of the taxes imposed on the well-to-do to pay for Obamacare.

McConnell is pledging an expedited vote before opposition can mount a public campaign aimed at senators. Our prediction, however, is that even after a vote, senators who favored this bill will face constituents’ wrath when they go home. And if this measure is reconciled with the House bill to effectively repeal and replace Obamacare, there will surely be a price paid at the polls for many of these senators.

But the biggest reason to oppose this bill has nothing to do with re-electability. It’s about ethical responsibility. These changes do nothing to fulfill President Trump’s promise of better coverage for more people. If such a monstrosity gets to his desk and there is no veto, this will just be another empty promise.

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