President Donald Trump and House Republicans gathered in the Rose Garden on May 4 to crow about their achievement, willfully ignorant of the pain they were prepared to inflict on poor and frail Americans.
How proud they were that they played to their base by passing a bill, HR 1628, that would eviscerate Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act.
On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office revealed the potential toll. The bill supported by 217 House Republicans, including all 14 congressional Republicans from California, could strip 14 million Americans of their health care coverage in 2018, and 23 million by 2026.
House Republicans voted on the bill without benefit of the CBO score, knowing the facts would be ugly. An earlier version was only incrementally worse; it would have stripped health care from 24 million Americans.
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Both versions would cut taxes by $765 billion over 10 years primarily for wealthy people and insurance companies. Trump and House Republicans tried to adorn the pig they call the American Health Care Act with lipstick, but it still squeals.
The analysis says lower income people who are between 50 and 64 years old would be hit disproportionately hard. Insurance companies could charge them five times more than younger ones beginning in 2018.
Some could use tax credits created to defray the costs, but because consumer protections would be gutted, there would be no guarantee of adequate coverage.
Perhaps the most damning line in the analysis is this: “Less healthy people would face extremely high premiums, despite the additional funding that would be available under HR 1628 to help reduce premiums.”
Voters should ask what kind of ideologue would vote to penalize people who already are infirm.
Among the aye votes was Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, who represents a district where Democrats hold a registration advantage. As many as 109,399 of his constituents could lose health care coverage under the bill he supported. Another vulnerable Republican supporter, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, represents a district where 107,487 are at risk.
The Senate will rework the legislation. Perhaps the result will keep true to Trump’s promise that the new bill will provide more people with coverage at a lower cost. But whether the Senate succeeds or not, California’s final 14 congressional Republicans should have some explaining to do in November 2018.