Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul
Ryan have a plan to overhaul the American health care system, but their
proposal preys on the old, the sick, the poor and the middle class while rewarding
the super-rich and drug companies with a $600 billion tax cut.
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, it also means 24 million people would lose their health coverage, 14 million of those just next year.
“The plan put forward by President Trump and Speaker Ryan is against everything we as working people believe in,” said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson. “It cuts coverage for tens of millions of people, raises rates dramatically on anyone over the age of 50 and gives billions to the rich. Working people and their allies should be livid at what these politicians are trying to do.”
Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Trump promised that no one would lose their health coverage after he fulfilled a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Even as advisors and members of his cabinet backed away from the pledge, he held firm. “I want to take care of everybody,” he said to ABC News shortly after his inauguration in January. Asked if he meant that none of the 20 million people who gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act would lose coverage, Trump reiterated, “We want no one. We want the answer to be no one.”
The CBO, whose director was appointed by Republicans, put a swift end to that argument on March 13 when it released its analysis of the Trump-Ryan bill showing the devastating impact the GOP plan would have in the immediate and long-term future.
In addition to the 14 million people who would lose health insurance almost immediately, the CBO also predicted a 15-20 percent rise in health care premiums next year and detailed huge increases on older working-age Americans, who would no longer have their insurance payments capped relative to younger, healthier people.
This bill is “a massive transfer of wealth from working people to Wall Street,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who also criticized the Trump-Ryan plan’s cuts to Medicare.
The 400 highest-income households in the U.S. will receive an average tax cut of $7 million each year under the proposed legislation, according to an AFL-CIO analysis. And $120 billion of that giveaway will come directly out of the Medicare trust fund, put in place to protect retirees’ health benefits.
For IBEW members, most of whom receive health insurance either through their employer or as part of a multiemployer plan, there is still much in this bill to be concerned about, said Political and Legislative Affairs Department Director Austin Keyser.
“Most importantly, this bill does nothing to put off the ‘Cadillac tax’ we’ve been fighting for years now,” Keyser said, referring to the 40-percent excise tax on generous health plans like those negotiated by IBEW locals. “It punts it a couple of years down the road, but Republicans in Congress are still planning to tax on our members’ health benefits, and that’s completely unacceptable.”
The bill also steals nearly three years of life from the Medicare Trust Fund, he said, all in the name of giving tax cuts to millionaires and drug companies. “That’s moving the wrong direction,” Keyser said. “We need Congress to be doing everything it can to protect retirement security by strengthening Medicare and Social Security, not giving away the store to the people who need those programs the least.”
Putting 24 million people back into the ranks of the uninsured, he said, will also raise rates on the IBEW employers and contractors who pay into the system, “and they’re going to have to make those dollars back somewhere else, and that’s going to hurt our members either by direct cuts or by a loss of competitiveness and a reduction in market share.”
Budget experts predict that most employers would elect to shift health care costs to their workers by increasing deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance and maximum out of pocket limits.
But the biggest losers under the Trump-Ryan plan would be working people approaching retirement age who haven’t yet reached Medicare eligibility, the 50-64 demographic. The CBO projects those Americans could see their out-of-pocket insurance premiums go up as much as 850 percent in the next decade over what they’re currently paying under the ACA.
Where Obamacare helped to even the playing field, Keyser said, the Trump-Ryan plan lets insurance companies go back to the old days of price gouging the hard-working men and women who can least afford it.
“We hope our members will see this for what it really is – a huge tax cut for millionaires and billionaires at the expense of working people,” Keyser said. “And we urge every person who’s rightly worried about their futures to call their members of Congress and tell them to stop the Trump-Ryan health care bill dead in its tracks.”
You can find your representatives in Congress at www.whoismyrepresentative.com or by calling 202-224-3121 and asking to speak to your senators or house member.
Hompage Photo used under a Creative Commons license from TaxRebate.org.uk.