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Mitch McConnell
Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell (R), with colleagues from Wyoming John Barrasso (left) and from Texas John Cornyn (right), talk about the American Health Care Act (AHCA) during a press conference in Capitol Hill, Washington DC.

A tax Reform Disguised as Health Care Law

Instead of working with Democrats in a bipartisan way to improve our current health care system, Republicans passed a bill that would allow insurers to bring…

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The Republican Party is trying to fool us into believing that their proposal, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), is truly a health care bill, when it is nothing more than tax cuts for the wealthiest, while eliminating protections for the middle class, especially for older Americans and children, and making working families pay more money for less coverage.

A bill that takes away medical services and health care from 23 million people is not a health care law. The AHCA would increase the cost for health care coverage, increasing premiums 20% by 2018, and leave millions of people uninsured and under insured. The facts speak for themselves.

The Congressional budget office confirmed what we already knew, that the AHCA does not do what Republicans claim it does. That is why Senate Democrats are fighting to ensure that this bill doesn’t go anywhere. We will not allow Republicans in the Senate to pass a tax reform bill that will hurt the American people, disguised as health care law. The consequences are just too many.

Republicans want to make you believe that AHCA will not affect people with preexisting conditions, but the truth is that this plan allows states to decide whether they want to provide patient protections or not, essentially allowing for some states to give second-class healthcare to their residents, tagging individuals with pre-existing conditions as "high-risk", charging them more or even denying them health care coverage. What qualifies as a pre-existing condition? Diseases such as cancer and diabetes, even pregnancy and sexual assault. This is truly outrageous. Under the AHCA, people with pre-existing in states that waive those protections “would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroups health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all.” 

AHCA would eliminate our current health care system. Under the proposed law, a 64 year-old person who makes $26,500 a year could be charged 800% more for their healthcare. Under the current system, that same person is estimated to pay $1,700 a year for coverage in 2026, under the Republican health care bill that same 64 year old would pay $13,600 in a state that waived pre-existing conditions protections, and $16,100 for coverage in a state that kept those protections. On the other hand, according to the latest version of the bill, the top 400 richest Americans in this country would save, each, millions of dollars. AHCA is a blatant transfer of dollars and benefits, from those in need and the middle class to the rich.

Instead of working with Democrats in a bipartisan way to improve our current health care system, Republicans passed a bill that would allow insurers to bring back discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.

And that's not all, the AHCA includes provisions that would make drastic changes to the Medicaid program. AHCA ends Medicaid expansion, which has provided health care to millions around the country and to many here in Pennsylvania. It also limits the program to a per capita provision, eliminating the guarantee of Medicaid for those in most need.

By making these changes and cuts to Medicaid, they are essentially eliminating this vital program that provides health care to more than 70 million Americans, including more than 4 million Latinos around the country, 39% of children with health coverage, and approximately two-thirds of the seniors in nursing homes. All to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.

By cutting Medicaid funds, my Republican colleagues are also taking away funding from our schools. By 2015, schools received nearly $4 Billion in Medicaid funds for health screenings, special education services for children with disabilities, and early intervention programs among other things. In Pennsylvania alone, our schools received approximately $135 million. We cannot afford to lose those funds. Taking money from our children to give it to the rich is an insult to the American people.  

As your Senator, it is my job to tell you the truth so you know what’s at stake. Many of us want to debate how to improve our current healthcare system, but unfortunately my Republican colleagues are only interested in repealing our current healthcare system and making changes that will benefit the rich at the expense of the well-being of the rest of the American people. Those changes affect all of us. 

Senate Democrats know that our current system is not perfect, and we want to something about it. If Republicans abandon their effort to repeal, which would have catastrophic consequences, Democrats stand ready to work in a bipartisan fashion on reforms that provide more and better healthcare for American families. Whenever Republicans are ready, they know where to find us.

In the meantime, I hate being the bearer of bad news, but beware, don’t be fooled, they’re trying to sell you a bad bag of goods. The Congressional Budget Office analysis doesn’t lie. Pay attention. AHCA will not improve our healthcare system, nor will it reduce what you’re paying for your premium. It will simply create more economic division and a second class of healthcare that would offer less care and protections for a higher price. You Will not benefit from this.

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