By Dorian Warren
When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican buddies in the Senate released the latest version of their health care proposal today, the public reaction was swift – and damning. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called it “an absolute disaster.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said it was an “abomination.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) tweeted, “All Senate Republicans did was put lipstick on a pig.”
I wish I could say I agree. But the proposal released today is much worse than lipstick on a pig. It’s more like a bad toupee on a pig. The “compromises” offered in this bill are unconvincing, and they make Republicans look terrible and cheap.
Just like Republicans past (and failed) attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), this version of the bill retains its most fatal flaw: it would decimate Medicaid and devastate the people who rely on it. This law would slash federal Medicaid spending and undo the Medicaid expansion made possible by the ACA. That means 15 million people will lose their coverage in the next ten years.
This bill does nothing to soften the $772 billion blow it would deliver to the program that provides health care coverage for seniors, people with disabilities and families with kids. So it’s disappointing to see that GOP lawmakers like Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who have expressed deep concern with past proposals’ cuts to Medicaid, have yet to declare their opposition to this latest attempt to strip health care from those who need it most.
What’s even more astounding? This bill might be even worse than the last one. By including an amendment authored by right-winger Sen. Ted Cruz that would allow insurance companies to sell health care plans that don’t meet the minimum quality and coverage standards set by the Affordable Care Act. That’s going to hurt our most vulnerable citizens – people with preexisting conditions who will see the cost of coverage spike.
Like a bad hair piece, the paltry sums this new bill offers to address the nation’s growing opioid crisis and rising costs for sicker, older people are just a cheap imitation of the real relief everyday Americans needs.
But even though we can all see through this pathetic attempt to comb over the fatal flaws in the GOP health care plan, many moderate Republicans, like Sen. Shelley Capito of Washington and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, remain on the fence.
Now more than ever before, Americans who will be impacted by this hurtful, harmful law must raise their voices and share their stories. We cannot allow Senate Republicans to obscure or disguise the fact that this bill could cause millions of Americans to lose their livelihoods, their life savings, and even their lives. It’s time to rise up, together, and expose this sham for what it really is.
Dorian Warren is president of the Center for Community Change Action.