by U.S. Congressman Rick Larsen
If there were a book on common sense for Congress, I am sure it would include a chapter on holding public committee hearings before voting on legislation. Trumpcare would be a perfect case study: Congressional Republicans found out last week, 20 days after ramming Trumpcare through the House, how awful this bill truly is.
Three weeks after the House vote on Trumpcare, the nonpartisan scorekeeper for congressional legislation, the Congressional Budget Office, released its report detailing the bill’s impacts. If this legislation becomes law, 23 million Americans will lose health insurance over the next decade and $834 billion of critical federal health care funding to states will be lost. In short, Trumpcare is a real loser.
Under Trumpcare, states will have the power to forgo essential health benefits and make health care for individuals with preexisting conditions unaffordable. That means if you are one of the 25 percent of Washingtonians with a preexisting condition such as diabetes, cancer, or pregnancy, your premiums could increase dramatically.
In addition, insurers will be able to charge their oldest enrollees five times as much as their youngest.
What would this look like?
A 64-year-old making $26,500 a year could pay up to $16,100 out-of-pocket for insurance under Trumpcare. By comparison, under the Affordable Care Act, that individual only pays $1,700 out-of-pocket. No one can afford to spend more than half an annual salary on health care and nor should anyone have to, especially when the Affordable Care Act is working for so many people in Washington state.
Trumpcare would devastate people like 63-year-old “Kay” from San Juan Island, who is one of the nearly 1,000 Washingtonians who shared their story at www.larsen.house.gov/shareyourstory. Kay signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act three years ago, and last year experienced “a serious heart condition for the first time.” Thanks to the Affordable Care Act she “obtained care at Peace Health in Friday Harbor and at St. Joseph’s in Bellingham” – care she would not have received otherwise.
After a year of public Congressional hearings, input from more than 15,000 of my constituents (including the thousands of passionate folks who attended a town hall I held at Everett Memorial Stadium) I was proud to vote for the Affordable Care Act in 2009.
After seven years of promising to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Congressional Republicans and President Trump are treating health care reform as a political imperative rather than a serious problem that needs serious solutions.
Maybe that explains why Trumpcare received zero public hearings in the House or Senate. Or why Speaker Ryan pushed Trumpcare to the House floor before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office could evaluate the bill’s impact. Or why 13 Republican Senators are now rewriting Trumpcare behind closed doors, without public hearings, female Senators or their Democratic colleagues.
But health care is not just a political problem for Congressional Republicans and the President. Health care is a determining factor in Americans’ quality of life and a pillar of the U.S. economy (in 2016 health care spending accounted for nearly one-fifth of U.S. GDP, according to the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services). With so much at stake, the only responsible course of action is for Democrats and Republicans to work together to improve quality, expand coverage and lower costs.
To date, Congressional Republicans’ effort to replace the Affordable Care Act with Trumpcare has been sloppy, secretive and partisan. And the best information available from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office shows Trumpcare will hurt people with preexisting conditions and result in 23 million more Americans losing health insurance. As health care policy and as an approach to governing, it could not be more clear that Trumpcare lacks common sense.
U.S. Congressman Rick Larsen represents Washington’s 2nd Congressional District.