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San Francisco Chronicle

GOP's #Trumpcare Plan Ignores the Common Good

Health care activists protest in front of a Harlem charter school before a visit by Speaker Paul Ryan, whose GOP House colleagues passed a contentious health care bill this month. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Shame on every one of the 217 Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and substitute it with basically nothing.

Trumpcare isn’t a replacement of the Affordable Care Act. It’s a transfer from the sick and poor to the rich and healthy.

The losers are 24 million Americans who will lose their coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the bill’s precursor. Trumpcare would also cut about a quarter of Medicaid’s budget over the next 10 years — eliminating health care for 14 million disabled and poor Americans by 2026, according to the CBO.


The winners are wealthy Americans, who will now get a tax cut because they won’t have to pay to fund the Affordable Care Act, and healthy people, who won’t have to buy health insurance to subsidize the sick.

House Republicans say they have protected people with pre-existing health problems. Baloney. Sick people could be charged premiums so high as to make insurance unaffordable.

America has the only health care system in the world designed to avoid sick people. Private for-profit health insurers spend millions of dollars to market themselves to healthy people because that’s where the profits are. They also make every effort to avoid sick people, because that’s where the costs are.

The Affordable Care Act puts healthy and sick people into the same insurance pool. But under Trumpcare, sick people will be grouped with other sick people in their own high-risk pool — which will result in such high premiums, co-payments and deductibles that many, if not most, won’t be able to afford health coverage.

Republicans say Trumpcare will pay insurance companies enough to cover the higher costs of insuring sick people. Wrong. There’s nothing to stop insurers from taking the money and still charging sick people much higher premiums or from avoiding sick people altogether.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says the vote was about fulfilling a promise the GOP made to American voters. But those voters have been lied to from the start about the Affordable Care Act.

For years, Republicans told them that the act couldn’t work, would bankrupt America and would result in millions losing the health care they had before. All of these lies have been proved wrong.

Republicans’ latest lie is that the Affordable Care Act is unsustainable because premiums are rising and insurers are pulling out.

Wrong again. The Affordable Care Act can be easily fixed, but Republicans have refused to do the fixing. Insurers have been pulling out because of the uncertainty Republicans have created.

Republicans are intent on repealing the Affordable Care Act so they can give a giant tax cut to the rich, who’d no longer have to pay the tab, and allow healthy people to opt out altogether.

If patriotism means anything, it means sacrificing for the common good. Childless Americans pay taxes for schools so children are educated. Americans who live close to their work pay taxes for roads and bridges so those who live farther away can get to work. Americans with secure jobs pay into unemployment insurance so those who lose their jobs have some income until they find another.

And under the Affordable Care Act, healthier and wealthier Americans pay a bit more so sicker and poorer Americans don’t die.

Trump and House Republicans don’t believe in sacrificing for the common good. They don’t think we’re citizens with obligations to one another. To them, we’re just individual consumers who deserve the best deal we can get for ourselves. It’s all about the art of the deal.

Hopefully, there are enough patriots in the Senate to prevent this moral travesty from becoming the law of the land.

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Robert Reich

Robert Reich

Robert Reich, is the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the the twentieth century. He has written fiften books, including the best-sellers Aftershock, The Work of Nations, Beyond Outrage and, Saving Capitalism. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." Reich's newest book is "The Common Good." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.


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