On Current Healthcare Legislation

While Facebook shows many posts with approval or outrage regarding the current healthcare legislative battle, these are often one-off responses and partial opinions. It’s hard to make out what the actual rule changes are, behind the loud bickering and resentments between Republicans and Democrats. I want to talk about what’s being changed, and how it may affect citizens.

The Affordable Care Act mandated that everyone must have healthcare, and those who don’t needed to pay a tax penalty. To avoid the tax penalty, over 20 million Americans got health insurance.

The new American Health Care Act would do away with Medicaid. Google defines Medicaid as “Medicaid is a health care program that assists low-income families or individuals in paying for long-term medical and custodial care costs. Medicaid is a joint program, funded primarily by the federal government and run at the state level, where coverage may vary.” Long-term care include pre-existing conditions - illnesses people are born with, like my genetically activated polycystic kidney disease, for example. Custodial care involves patients who need a caretaker, like senior homes and similar programs.

The Affordable Care Act offered subsidized insurance policies, which means that government will help pay for health insurance for those who can’t pay themselves. The new laws offer tax credits of $2000 to $4000 a year - depending on age, which means that the government gives people this amount of tax dollars to pay for health insurance. This amount is actually tiny compared to the amount of money necessary to maintain care for people with pre-existing conditions or who need to stay somewhere other than home for their care.

New York Times writes, “A family could receive up to $14,000 a year in credits. The credits would be reduced for individuals making over $75,000 a year and families making over $150,000,” but this doesn’t define how large the family is, or how many of those people have pre-existing conditions, or need other long term care. American Cancer Society and AARP in oppose the repeal bill.

“States would receive an allotment of federal money for each beneficiary, or, as an alternative, they could take the money in a lump sum as a block grant, with fewer federal requirements. The bill would also repeal taxes imposed by the Affordable Care Act on high-income people, insurers and drug companies, among others. And it would cut off federal funds from Planned Parenthood for one year.”

This means, the federal government would give each state an amount of money depending on how many sick people it has, but since there are fewer rules to go with that money, the money may never get to the sick people. Rich people, insurance and drug companies all get tax cuts. Planned Parenthood gets no money for a year.

Readers can and should call their local representatives to pressure them to vote in the best interests of the readers. Readers in Boston specifically - Michelle Wu is up for re-election as President of the City Council. She is for paid parental leave and healthcare equity: http://www.jamaicaplainnews.com/2015/10/27/qa-michelle-wu-paid-parental-leave-healthcare-equity-and-accessible-city-services/14797. Please read up on the rest of her platform: http://michelleforboston.com/welcome/accomplishments/ . If her platform is to your liking, please also help her gather votes to keep her current position; she needs 1,500 local votes to be put on the ballot again.