The GOP is busy trying to repeal and replace Obamacare. They’ve proposed the American Health Care Act as a means to that end. To be honest, I can’t seem to find the bill online anywhere, but the CBO has released its estimates of the impact (the CBO says it combines legislation, but it doesn’t say what legislation it combines). As an aside, in my search for the bill on congress.gov turned up H.R.277 (American Health Care Reform Act) that has collected 29 cosponsors), but also turned up H.R.1275, which has a much better name: “World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan.” I’m quite sure it’s not, but it’s still a great name.
I am not going to get into details about the CBO score, but the summary is that the plan will save Americans $337 billion over 10 years, at the cost of increasing the number of uninsured by 24 million. The CBO says that 14 million people will become uninsured by 2018, mostly because they will opt out of coverage after the mandate is repealed. People speaking in support of the plan have said that it will maintain coverage for pre-existing conditions for people who maintain continuous coverage, so it looks like these 14 million will lose that benefit of the ACA. By the end of the ten year estimate, the CBO says a total of 24 million more Americans will be without insurance, bringing the total uninsured to 52 million Americans. The impact of this could be devastating to those Americans, and we will watch them suffer, all to save some money. I think that’s a moral failure.
I don’t know if that’s fair to say or not, but it seems like there are some relatively simple decisions to make: reduce the budget deficit by $33.7 billion a year or make sure 24 million people keep their health insurance?
I know it’s not that simple, but if we’re genuinely interested in reducing the deficit, aren’t there less impactful ways to do it? The mortgage interest deduction is estimated to be about $70 billion a year. Even if we adjusted that so it counted less and less for more wealthy Americans, it seems like we could save just as much right there.
Still, I can’t help but feel like these priorities say something about our values, about our morality. If saving money is more important than giving health insurance to people who can’t afford it, what does that say about our values? Doesn’t it say that we value money over the health of others? I can’t see it any other way.