There was a lot of talk in Washington this week about the Senate Trumpcare bill. Thousands of Delawareans made your voices heard by calling and writing my office, with 20 times more callers opposed to the bill than supportive of it.
It was because of your efforts – and the efforts of Americans across the country – that the Senate didn’t have enough votes to pass the bill this time.
But we have to remember that this fight is not over. The Senate will be back after July 4, and instead of working in a bipartisan way to make constructive improvements to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there’s a good chance some version of the Senate Trumpcare bill will get a vote instead.
We have to stay engaged and keep fighting because this “health care” bill isn’t about health or care. The Senate Trumpcare bill is essentially a tax cut for the wealthiest handful of Americans paid for by massive cuts to health care services for everyone else.
Don’t take my word for it. On Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its assessment of the Senate Trumpcare bill. CBO found that this bill would kick 15 million Americans off of their health insurance next year, with 22 million Americans losing coverage by 2026, while giving the wealthiest Americans more than $500 billion in tax cuts over 10 years. A review of the Senate Trumpcare bill by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that it would give Americans who make more than $5 million a tax cut of almost $250,000.
Where does all the money come from for these tax cuts? In large part, it’s from taking back the money that’s been used to give millions of Americans access to health care – often for the first time.
Gustavo, a self-employed barber in Newark, is one of the thousands of Delawareans who now has health insurance for the first time in his life because of the Affordable Care Act. Before the ACA, Gustavo’s heart condition made it prohibitively expensive for him to afford health insurance or the surgery he needs to treat his heart condition. Today, as long as he budgets carefully, Gustavo is able to afford insurance and get the treatment he needs.
My staff and I have heard from countless Delawareans who’ve found themselves in situations like Gustavo’s – living with a preexisting condition that made it either impossible or too expensive to afford health insurance. These Delawareans are among the millions across our country who’ve gained health insurance because of the ACA – and who would lose that coverage under the Senate Trumpcare bill.
In recent days, I’ve been visited by patients, nurses, doctors, advocacy groups, and hospitals from up and down our state who make it crystal clear that the Medicaid cuts in the Senate Trumpcare bill would be devastating for seniors, children, students, and more. Across the United States, Medicaid covers or helps cover nearly half of all births and more than 60 percent of nursing home residents. In Delaware, Medicaid covers 84,000 children, which is almost half of our total Medicaid population, and almost 60 percent of nursing home care.
These are the Americans whose Medicaid coverage would be cut by hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for new tax cuts for the rich.
That’s not all. Trumpcare would also cut tax credits for Americans purchasing health care on the individual market, meaning they would see their monthly health care costs get even more expensive. If the Senate Trumpcare bill were to become law, average deductibles would almost double, and premiums would go way up. Rather than addressing the high premiums that some Delawareans face because of a lack of competition in the marketplace, the Senate Trumpcare bill would make it even more expensive.
That’s in part because Trumpcare would allow insurers to charge older people up to five times more for their premiums, compared to a three-to-one limit today. For example, a 60-year-old Delawarean making $42,000 a year would be forced to pay $12,610 more in premiums every year under the Senate Trumpcare bill for the same coverage they’re getting right now.
It gets worse. Even for those who manage to find a health care plan they could afford, most people would pay far more than they would under the Affordable Care Act – while getting far worse coverage.
That’s because the Senate Trumpcare bill allows states to gut the ACA’s essential health benefit requirements, which mandate that all insurance plans cover basic services like emergency care, maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, pediatric services, hospitalization, and mental health and substance use disorder services (in other words, the reasons many people purchase health insurance in the first place). In the middle of an opioid epidemic that took the lives of more than 300 Delawareans last year, the Senate Trumpcare bill threatens to make the epidemic that much worse.
More than 150 million Americans, including nearly 500,000 Delawareans, already get their health insurance through an employer. Because the Senate Trumpcare bill allows states to eliminate the essential health benefit requirements that the ACA put in place, under this bill many employer-sponsored insurance plans would provide less coverage and shift more out-of-pocket costs to families.
While Senate Republicans may claim that their bill covers pre-existing conditions, insurance under this bill would be worth far less since it wouldn’t cover what you need to treat your pre-existing condition.
The Senate Trumpcare bill would impact almost every single American. Unless you’re one of the wealthiest Americans in the country looking for another tax break, that impact won’t be good for your health or your wallet.
Since I came to the U.S. Senate, I’ve heard countless stories of lives saved by the ACA. But I’ve also heard that some individuals and small business owners in Delaware are frustrated by increased costs they’ve seen under the ACA. That’s why I’ve been trying to work with Republicans to fix the parts of the Affordable Care Act that need fixing, from increasing tax cuts for small business that help them offer insurance to their employees, to finding new ways to increase marketplace competition and bring down premiums and deductibles for individuals and families.
But instead of trying to find areas of agreement that build on the ACA’s progress, the Senate Trumpcare bill throws out the entire law and replaces it with bigger tax cuts for the wealthy, paid for on the backs of the most vulnerable among us.
That’s why we have to defeat the Senate Trumpcare bill.
In the days and weeks to come, I hope all Delawareans will stay active, stay engaged, and stay the course against this cruel and cynical bill. This fight is not yet over.