As I mentioned before, it’s been a couple of wild months filled with whirlwind activity on healthcare reform.
I wasn’t really surprised at the political shenanigans in Washington, DC. After all, this isn’t my first political rodeo.
But, I was surprised by how this one felt. This one was different.
This one felt…personal.
Not personal, in the sense that it is important to me personally or will have a direct effect on my life. Although both of those things are true. But personal in the sense that it felt like I, as a person who needs health care and insurance, am being targeted for punishment.
It all started with the budget
As with many things, it all started with money. In this case, the federal budget. How much tax money are the feds going to spend on health care?
Looking at Speaker Paul Ryan’s argument against Obamacare it’s all about money. Health insurance premiums are higher. Deductibles are higher. Subsidies are going up. Not to mention the effect this is having on the budget deficit.
Budget reconciliation was the first phase of Speaker Ryan’s three-pronged approach to “repeal and replace.” And as a tactic, it was brilliant. The process moves fast. The bill must remain focused, with no “extraneous matter.” And the American Health Care Act had a fast, focused life—going from its introduction, through committee and floor debate, to its death in just four days.
But it doesn’t end there
Once the American Health Care Act was introduced and the details became clear, the circus ring turned into a boxing ring. And I, as a patient, became the punching bag.
Each day, as another detail became clear or another analysis surfaced, i felt another body blow. Another anxiety-provoking change. Another unbelievably cruel twist.
No denial for preexisting conditions was promised. But, if there’s a gap in coverage your insurance company can charge you a 30% penalty on your annual premiums. BOOM!
No more individual mandate was declared. But, if you’re an older person insurance companies can charge you 5x the premium they charge younger (presumably healthier) people. And the individual tax breaks got a lot smaller while insurance industry tax breaks got a lot bigger. BOOM!
No more funding for Medicare expansion. States will get to decide whether to include mental health and addiction services. And the CBO estimated as many as 24 million people could lose their health care insurance. BOOM!
Really? It’s okay for 24 million people to loose health insurance? It’s okay to cut health services?
I was left punch drunk.
Where did all the good stuff go?
The American Health Care Act was all about the balance sheet. How did those figures look? More money to the insurance industry. Less money to the states.
What happened to essential health benefits? You know, the part of Obamacare that says health insurance needs to cover things like check-ups, maternity care, pediatrics, and mental health. They were nowhere to be seen.
Less coverage for the individual.
Just what kind of health insurance were people going to end up with? Who knows? Surely there would be some kind of affordable health insurance, even if it didn’t cover much of the services needed to regain or maintain health.
There. Just don’t get sick and you’ll be okay.
And if you’re already sick? Well, you’ll just have to pay for it.