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Religious Tolerance logo

2017-MAY-05: The American Health
Care Act (AHCA) sits in the Senate:

Part 11

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medical attention

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This topic is continued here from Part 10 at the previous page

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The status of health care activity in the Senate:

The Senate will apparently develop its own version of the bill. It will have to be later harmonized with the House version and approved by both House and Senate before being sent to the President for signature. With very serious divisions among Republicans in Congress, the universal opposition of Democrats, and phenominally low support for the bill among the public they may not be able to succeed in having a bill passed to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are using a budget procedure called "reconciliation" for this bill. It allows the legislation to be passed with a simple majority of 51 votes instead of the 60-vote super-majority which is normally required. All of the 48 Democrats in the Senate will probably vote against the bill. With only 50 Republicans, and 2 Independents in the Senate, the margin is razor thin, even if reconciliation is used. Meanwhile, the Republicans are divided about what they would like to see in a new AHCA law.

Jack Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in California commented:

"I think as this goes through the Senate and they have time to read this thing, in the end a lot of the House’s work will be undone. ... The Senate's fix for the bill may end up looking a lot like Obamacare." 1

A team of 13 Senators is working on the Senate version of the bill. It contains zero women, zero blacks, 1 hispanic, and 12 whites.

Robert Pear, writing for the New York Times, predicted that the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

"... with only two votes to spare, could find that the Senate’s more moderate [Republican] voices will not be as easily assuaged as the House’s when a repeal bill finally reaches a vote. Republican Senators like Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana may prove less amenable to appeals for party unity and legislative success when the lives and health of their constituents are on the line.

And certain issues, like efforts to reverse the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, are sure to receive more attention in the Senate than they got in the House. The prospect of higher premiums for older Americans living in rural areas will also loom larger in a chamber where Republicans from sparsely populated states hold outsize power." 2

Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) predicts that a vote in the Senate may be two months away. 2

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Opposition to the AHCA as it is currently written:

There are over 100 million Americans who are suffering from chronic and other major health problems. Ten patient advocacy groups have so-far announced their opposition to the AHCA:

  • American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network,

  • American Diabetes Association,

  • American Heart Association,

  • American Lung Association,

  • Cystic Fibrosis Foundation,

  • JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation),

  • March of Dimes,

  • National Organization for Rare Disorders,

  • National MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Society,

  • WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.

David Leonhardt, writing for the New York Times on MAY-03, said:

"The Republican health bill is simply a bad bill. It’s been blasted by conservative and liberal health experts, as well as groups representing patients, doctors, nurses and hospitals. Above all, the bill cuts health benefits for the poor, the middle class, the elderly and the sick, and it funnels the savings to tax cuts for the rich. ..."

The only things that can keep it from becoming law — and harming millions of Americans — is the United States Senate." 3

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Some people are finally "getting it:" American lives are at stake:

Back on MAR-13, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted the effects on the health care system if the current law -- commonly called Obamacare -- were to be replaced by the previous AHCA proposal. They concluded that:

"... in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law. Most of that increase would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate. Some of those people would choose not to have insurance because they chose to be covered by insurance under current law only to avoid paying the penalties, and some people would forgo insurance in response to higher premiums.

Later, following additional changes to subsidies for insurance purchased in the nongroup market and to the Medicaid program, the increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number under current law would rise to 21 million in 2020 and then to 24 million in 2026. ... In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law. 4 [Emphasis by us.]

That is, if the earlier version of the AHCA were implemented, it would cause 24 million more Americans to lose their health care compared to Obamacare by 2026. They would still have individual access to emergency rooms in hospitals. However, that is a very costly and inefficient way of handling health problems. It is far better for people to be under the routine care of a physician who can detect problems before they become serious, and treat them. For example, diabetes can be detected early in patients long before the patient notices any symptoms. They can then be set up on an medication and/or insulin injection schedule to stabilize their blood glucose levels. This will drastically lower the occurrence of blindness, leg amputations, heart failure, etc. in their future.

But more seriously, tossing 24 million people out of the health care system will result in countless needless, preventable, deaths every year. U.S. life expectancies are already lower compared to that in Canada and in other industrialized countries. But terminating health care for 24 million more people would depress life spans even more.

In short; Trumpcare must be done correctly. Lives are at stake. Otherwise, people will die prematurely and in large numbers.

Yet, curiously, when the CBO reported on a previous version of the AHCA, it studied only the financial impacts that would result if it were adopted, including: effects on the federal budget, health insurance coverage, stability of the health insurance market, effects on premiums, etc. If the CBO were a pro-life organization, its report would have emphasized the effects that replacing Obamacare would have on disability levels, life expectancy, infant mortality, maternal mortality, etc.

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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. Erin Kelly, "After House passage, the Senate is likely to start over on the health care bill," USA Today, 2017-MAY-04, at: https://www.usatoday.com/
  2. Robert Pear, "13 Men, and No Women, Are Writing New G.O.P. Health Bill in Senate," New York Times, 2017-MAY-08, at: https://www.nytimes.com/
  3. David Leonhardt,The New Study That Shows Trumpcare’s Damage," New York Times, 2017-MAY-03, at: https://www.nytimes.com/
  4. "American Health Care Act: Cost estimate," Congressional Budget Office, 2017-MAR-13, at: https://www.cbo.gov/

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Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted on: 2017-APR-06
Latest update: 2017-APR-12
Author: B.A. Robinson
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