By Dawn DeSart
ACE Campaigns & Candidates Team Leader
Having spent the weekend looking into the newly released (on Thursday) plan for “health care” for Americans who need these benefits the most, I can’t bring myself to call it the GOP’s “Health Care Plan,” because it has literally nothing to do with health nor with the care for others.
The GOP’s “American Health Care Act” (as it was known in the House); or the proposed “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017,” (as it is identified in the Senate), should be an embarrassment to any legislator who signs this repugnant piece of legislation.
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not perfect, it allows for important consumer protections for every American, including the following:
• Coverage of health benefits including ambulatory, hospitalization, emergency services, maternity and newborn services, mental health services, prescription drugs, rehabilitation, laboratory services, preventive/wellness services, and pediatric services, including dental and vision.
• No lifetime maximums.
• No annual maximums.
• No denials for pre-existing conditions.
• Guaranteed renewals.
• Insurance premiums based solely on age and geographic location.
• Insuring children to the age of 26.
• The right to an external appeals process.
The Republican plan is not at all about “health care.” It’s a smash and grab of a pile of cash, currently set aside to assist the poorest among us (elderly, children, and the disabled).
The long-term goal of the GOP plan is to pass a massive tax cut for the very wealthiest Americans by utilizing the budget reconciliation process of the federal government (a system which is allowed only once per fiscal year). The repeal of the ACA would fall into fiscal year 2017, and the tax reform section (cutting taxes for the ultra rich), would fall into fiscal year 2018. So, instead of being about “health care” at all, the actual health care cuts under the GOP plan are being used to balance the long-term federal budget (under the Byrd Rule). And that is, in part, why it will take seven years, they say, to roll out. In order for it to be legal, this process must be included in a “long-term budget.”
‘The GOP plan is nothing more than a cash grab. Easy money taken away from people who have no voice.’
“The Byrd Rule is a set of limitations on the (budget) reconciliation process, which can allow the Senate to pass legislation with a simple majority,” according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. And who has the majority in the Senate in 2017? The rule was championed by former Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) and established in Section 313 of the Budget Act. The rule “disallows ‘extraneous matter’ from being included in a (budget) reconciliation bill … extraneous matter being defined in three major categories of restrictions.” For more on the Byrd Rule, click here.
It’s a reverse Robin Hood. Grab cash from the poor (in the form of the health care dollars formerly put aside for them plus severe cuts to Medicaid funding) and give it to the very rich (in the form of tax breaks). It is all very legal. It’s just not the right or moral thing to do.
For the ostriches who stick their heads in the sand and think, “It won’t affect me! I have good insurance through my employer,” you know someone this crisis will affect. In Naperville alone, if you live in House District 6, Peter Roskam’s (R) district, 61,000 people are set to lose benefits. If you live in House District 11, Bill Foster’s (D) district, 58,000 people will lose benefits. It will affect your neighbors.
Senators come from all walks of life. I get that. I get that many won’t bother to read or to understand this vitally important bill. It’s a shame. It’s a painful pill to swallow. Because if they would read and digest this bill, they would clearly see what I’ve seen. The GOP plan is nothing more than a cash grab. Easy money taken away from people who have no voice. This bill is sick. It’s amoral. And those who have a voice must educate friends, neighbors and senators about what is at stake.
Former NBC5 traffic reporter and radio personality Dawn DeSart is a precinct committeeperson for the Wheatland Township Democrats. She also has served on the Indian Prairie School District’s Board of Education, and on the boards of the Fox Valley United Way and Little Blessings Preschool.