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Religious Tolerance logo

U.S. Senate Version of Better Care Reconciliation
Act
(BCRA) Released. Death Toll Expected.
Content of the Bill. Congressional Budget Office
(CBO) Report is Issued.

Part 15

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Medical stethoscope 1

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This topic is continued here from Part 14 at the previous page

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2017-JUN-22: Senate version of the Health Care bill is released as expected:

The bill, called: "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017," can be downloaded from: https://www.budget.senate.gov/ as a PDF file.

Response was mixed:

  • Five conservative Republican senators announced their opposition to the bill: Ted Cruz (R-TX), Dean Heller (R-NV). Ron Johnson (WI), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY).

  • Five moderate Republican senators have expressed major concerns about the bill: Shelley Capito (R-WV), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH).

  • Many other Republicans have yet to comment about the bill. 2

  • There are 52 Republican Senators. 51 votes in favor of the bill are necessary. If all 48 Democrats and 2 Republicans vote against the bill, the result would be a tie vote that Vice President Mike Pence (R) would presumably break by voting for the bill. If more than 2 Republicans vote no, the bill cannot pass the Senate.

  • Unanimous opposition is expected from all Democratic senators.

  • President Trump tweeted that: "I am very supportive of the Senate #HealthcareBill. Look forward to making it really special! Remember, ObamaCare is dead." 3

[In reality, ObamaCare is still active at this time and will continue until to function until it is repealed.]

  • Former President Obama said that: "If there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family, this bill will do you harm. ... small tweaks cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation." 3

  • The Daily Kos published an article with the eye-catching headline: "Senate Trumpcare version would kill even more [people] than the House bill." 4

  • Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) referred to the GOP bill a "death sentence." He said:

    "We got a bill from my Senate Republican colleagues that is [partly] identical to, and in some cases, even worse than the disastrous House-passed American Health Care Act that would rip coverage away from 23 million Americans and gut Medicaid by more than $800 billion.

Nothing changes the fact that this undemocratic, secretive process has resulted in legislation that is so mean-spirited it would make the Wicked Witch of the West cringe." 5

He said that the Senate version of the bill plan would:

" ... rip away economic security for young families, make grandma and grandpa pay more for health insurance simply because they are old, tear away coverage for opioid addiction patients desperate for treatment, and punish Americans with pre-existing conditions.

For once, I agree with President Trump: this bill is mean. ..."

"Make no mistake, this health care plan is of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. It's giving millions in tax breaks to people who don't need or deserve them, paid for by people who can't handle or afford it. That is cruel, that is inhumane, that is immoral, that is just plain wrong and I and my Democratic colleagues will not stand for it." 5

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Death Toll expected if passed:

An article by the Center for American Progress (CAP) estimated that replacing the Affordable Care Act with the House version of the health care act would cause 16,900 additional deaths in the year 2018, rising to 27,700 additional deaths per year by 2026, totaling additional 216,900 dead bodies over the next decade. They reviewed three different scenarios for the Senate health care bill and estimated that it would kill slightly fewer people than the House version over the next decade. During 2026 it would kill between 18,072 and 26,711 Americans.

CAP concluded:

"Given the overwhelming weight of evidence, there should be no debate: Health care coverage has an impact on whether Americans live or die. Our data estimates show that under any of the scenarios we analyzed, a significant number of American lives are at stake in this debate. Legislators considering whether to support this bill should keep in mind and soberly consider the catastrophic effect the AHCA would have on so many Americans and their families." 6

The next day, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tweeted:

"Let us be clear and this is not trying to be overly dramatic: Thousands of people will die if the Republican health care bill becomes law." 7

Four hours later, someone in the office of Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) -- perhaps the Senator himself -- tweeted in response:

"The brief time when we were *not* accusing those we disagree with of murder was nice while it lasted."

Webmaster's comment:

My first thought when I read Senator Sander's tweet was: In reality, a more meaningful statement would be that "Thousands additional people will die every month" or "Tens of thousands additional people will die every year" or "Hundreds of thousands of additional people will die every decade."

My first thought when I read the tweet from Hatch's office was that "murder" is too strong a word to use; "manslaughter" would be more accurate. After all, a member of Congress who voted for the bill would not carefully spend time selecting the thousands of individuals who would die every month. But then I looked up the definitions of "murder" and "manslaughter." Murder requires loss of life, and intention to kill by the murderer. Both of these would be present among those voting for the bill. 8 So, murder seems to be an accurate term to use here, after all.

I wonder what goes through the mind of a member of Congress knowing that if she or he votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act and votes for the new health care act, that they are co-signing the death warrants of almost a quarter million Americans during he next decade alone. 7

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Content of the bill:

  • Individuals who don't want to purchase insurance would be free to cancel their policy without penalty.

  • Larger companies that want to no longer offer their employees health care insurance would be free to terminate the plans without penalty.

  • Government subsidies to policy holders will be reduced.

  • Medicaid will be cut.

  • Funding to counter drug addiction will also be cut.

  • Currently, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) fully funds Medicaid. Starting in 2020, these funds will be reduced.

  • The rich would benefit, because tax increases created by Obamacare would be repealed. 6

In fact, the proposed bill is not really a health care act. It is a tax bill to benefit the very rich.

Republicans are still hoping that the bill will be approved by both the House and Senate, and be on the president's desk before the JUL-04 Congressional recess. That is far from certain.

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2017-JUN-26: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its review of the Senate version of Trumpcare. Talk surfaces about a single payer health care plan:

The Senate version of the Trumpcare healthcare bill is called the: "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017". The CBO evaluation, 9 issued on JUN-26, shows that the Senate version is not quite as bad as the House version in terms of the number of uninsured. It estimates that by 2026, under the Senate bill, some 22 million more people will lack insurance. This is one million fewer than the House bill would cause.

Unfortunately, the CBO did not take its calculations to their logical conclusion by estimating the number of hundreds of thousands of additional deaths the bill would cause per decade.

Average premiums would be expected to initially rise by 20% in 2018 and 10% in 2019, and then fall by 2016.

"States can also waive Obamacare's essential health benefits (EHBs] requirement, which covers things like mental health and substance abuse treatment. About half of Americans would live in states modifying EHBs, and could 'experience substantial increases in supplemental premiums or out-of-pocket spending on health care, or would choose to forgo the services'."

Chairperson Tom Perez of the Democratic National Committee called it a:

"... disaster for women, older Americans, and people with pre-existing conditions."

The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, hoped to hold a vote in the Senate during the week of JUN-25. There were doubts that it will pass, since at least 5 Republican Senators and all of the Democratic Senators are expected to vote against it. Many other Republicans are undecided. If more than 2 Republicans vote against it, then the bill would not pass. Trying to adjust the bill to get more moderate Republican votes would probably cause more conservative Republicans to vote against it -- and vice versa. Even if they were able to pass the bill in the Senate, they will have to negotiate a compromise bill with the House and obtain a majority vote in both the House and Senate -- a formidable task.

Apparently because of the rebellion by Republican senators against the bill, the vote on the bill has been postponed until after the JUL-04 recess. Members of Congress can probably expect a hot reception when they leave Washington and return to their home districts.

The text of the bill is available online. 9

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Free image, by DarkoStojenovic, downloaded from Pixabay.com
  2. Amber Phillips, et al., "The Senate’s health-care bill could be in trouble," Washington Post, 2017-JUN-25, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
  3. & , "Four GOP senators oppose health bill that cuts coverage for millions, say it doesn’t go far enough," Toronto Star, 2017-JUN-22, at: https://www.thestar.com/
  4. Michael Graham, "Graham: Dems: Trumpcare bill will 'kill you'," Boston Herald, 2017-JUN-22, at: http://www.bostonherald.com/
  5. Shannon Young, "Ed Markey: Senate GOP health care bill would make Wicked Witch of the West cringe," MassLive, 2017-JUN-22, at: http://www.masslive.com/
  6. Ann Crawford-Roberts et al., "Coverage Losses Under the Senate Health Care Bill Could Result in 18,100 to 27,700 Additional Deaths in 2026," Center for American Progress, 2017-JUN-22, at: https://www.americanprogress.org/
  7. Bernie Sanders, tweet, 2017-JUN-23, at: https://twitter.com/
  8. Kelly, Symonds & Reed, LLC, "What are different types of homicide charges?," 2016-JAN-07, at: http://www.mokanlegal.com/
  9. Jacob Pramuk, "Senate GOP Obamacare replacement would lead to 22 million more uninsured in 2026, CBO estimates," CNBC, 2017-JUN-26, at: http://www.cnbc.com/

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Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted on: 2017-JUL-20
Author: B.A. Robinson
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