Uprising underway against Senate plan to take healthcare from millions

Senate Republicans today released their secret plan to kick millions off of health insurance and transfer hundreds of millions of dollars that now go to healthcare for working people and the poor into the pockets of the rich.

The massive tax cut for the wealthy, disguised as a healthcare plan, hues closely to and in some respects is even worse than the plan passed by the  House in May.

Determined to stop what they see as an unconscionable attack on the healthcare of millions of Americans, Democratic lawmakers, labor, civil rights, community, and healthcare groups, backed up by doctors, nurses and countless others, are marching and mobilizing across the country. The Republican Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell, hopes to railroad the bill through the Senate before the Fourth of July.

Senate rules requiring that the Congressional Budget Office score the bill before a Senate vote are the only thing that forced McConnell to allow the secret stealth attack on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) out of the closet before a vote. Republicans are itching to tell their constituents that they have killed Obamacare, regardless of the severe harm that will be done to millions of Americans.

Polls indicate that support for the Republican bill that passed the House in May is less than 20 percent among the American public, another reason GOP lawmakers have proceeded in secret in the Senate.

The Senate plan rolls back subsidies for people who purchase insurance on the ACA exchanges and drastically slashes Medicaid to the tune of hundreds  of billions of dollars. In a totally transparent and what Sen. Bernie Sanders described “obscene” way those cuts in Medicaid  are funneled, under the Senate plan, into tax cuts for the wealthy.

The AFL-CIO, in recent statements on its website, has warned that many people are unaware of what Medicaid cuts  could mean. Medicaid pays for long term care in nursing homes, for example, something Medicare does not cover. Millions of working families could be left with horrible choices if nursing home patients are thrown onto the streets.

One half of all births in the United States are paid for by Medicaid as is health care for millions of children. Medicaid money also is used under the Affordable Care Act to pay to insure millions of poor people whose income is too low afford paying for the prices of insurance listed on exchanges.

Cutting Medicaid to pay for tax cuts for the rich makes no sense, according to Sen. Sherod Brown, Democrat of Ohio. “This bill takes away the number one tool we have in fighting against opioids – Medicaid treatment. We cannot allow Washington to rip the rug out from under Ohio communities,” he declared.

The Senate bill ends federal assistance to Planned Parenthood. Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood federation of America, said that one in five women get essential healthcare from Planned Parenthood centers.

“If this is the Senate’s idea of a bill with heart, then the women of America should have fear struck in theirs,” she said.

Many healthcare advocates are scoffing at President Trump’s recent characterization of the House bill, passage of which he celebrated in May, as “mean.” Advocates say the Senate bill released today is, in some respects, even meaner. The Bill the House passed in May would kick 23 million off of health insurance but the bill passed by the Senate would kick off many millions too. Just how many will be kicked off the insurance rolls won’t be known until this Friday or next Monday, however, when the CBO releases its analysis of the bill.

If the Senate can muster the 50 votes needed to pass the bill negotiations would have to start with the House to reconcile the two measures. While McConnell wants a vote by the end of next week, before the Fourth of July holiday, the outcry across the nation against the bill could slow that timetable down.

In the meantime, Obamacare as President Trump said yesterday, is not “dead.” It remains, for now, the law of the land.

Democrats have acknowledged that there are problems with Obamacare that need to be solved. They have suggested, for example, that in states where there are no insurers willing to offer plans a public option could be set up, solving the problem and increasing competition. Republicans have spurned any such suggestions.

The whole controversy has increased public support for a simple single payer Medicare for All plan long advocated by many supporters of the idea that healthcare is a right, not a privilege available to only people who can pay.

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, urged everyone to contact their members of Congress and the Senate. “If they are in the Senate,” he said, “call them and tell them to vote against the bill when it arrives in their chamber for a vote or face an uphill battle when they run for reelection.”

Readers are urged to let lawmakers know they should not approve either the Senate or the House plans to kill Obamacare: https://aflcio.org/take-action


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.