By Jason Frerichs
On May 4th, the U.S. House voted 217 to 213 to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a bill that strips nearly all provisions protecting people with pre-existing conditions. Here is a list of all potential pre-existing conditions that might not be covered any longer: AIDS/HIV, acid reflux, acne, ADD, addiction, Alzheimer’s/dementia, anemia, aneurysm, angioplasty, anorexia, anxiety, arrhythmia, arthritis, asthma, atrial fibrillation, autism, bariatric surgery, basal cell carcinoma, bipolar disorder, blood clot, breast cancer, bulimia, bypass surgery, celiac disease, cerebral aneurysm, cerebral embolism, cerebral palsy, cerebral thrombosis, cervical cancer, colon cancer, colon polyps, congestive heart failure, COPD, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, DMD, depression, diabetes, disabilities, Down syndrome, eating disorder, enlarged prostate, epilepsy, glaucoma, gout, heart disease, heart murmur, heartburn, hemophilia, hepatitis C, herpes, high cholesterol, hypertension, hysterectomy, kidney disease, kidney stones, kidney transplant, leukemia, lung cancer, lupus, lymphoma, mental health issues, migraines, MS, muscular dystrophy, narcolepsy, nasal polyps, obesity, OCD, organ transplant, osteoporosis, pacemaker, panic disorder, paralysis, paraplegia, Parkinson’s disease, pregnancy, restless leg syndrome, schizophrenia, seasonal affective disorder, seizures, sickle cell disease, skin cancer, sleep apnea, sleep disorders, stent, stroke, thyroid issues, tooth disease, tuberculosis, ulcers, etc…
This is nothing more than an attack on the American people and a giveaway to the insurance companies who would like nothing more than to see their stranglehold on the U.S. healthcare system continue. The insurance companies would like nothing more than to toss out all the “sick” people and only insure the low-risk population. That is until someone from that population gets cancer or multiple sclerosis. When that happens the insurance companies will cap their payout now that they are no longer encumbered by the ACA. Those people will be left out to die, which is what the insurance companies really what.
The current House bill would do away with the state-by-state expansion of Medicaid. Instead of subsidized insurance policies, the bill would offer tax credits of $2000 to $4000 dollars depending on how old you are. The previous CBO estimates that while this bill would trim the federal deficit, 24 million people would be thrown off their insurance within a decade. Basically what this does is throw poor people off their plans which will end up costing us more in the long run. These folks won’t have insurance so they’ll delay getting care until what was once a manageable problem is now a full blown emergency. This will cause a spike in uninsured emergency room visits and the cost of those will be passed to folks who already have insurance in the form of higher premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. Somebody has to pay the piper and it sure isn’t going to be the people who already benefit enormously from the current system. The middle class will be stuck paying for it, lowering their discretionary incomes even more.
Those of you with employer-based health insurance are not immune to the disaster of Trump Care. The ACA requires all insurance plans to cover things like vaccinations, prescription drugs, mental health, hospitalizations, etc…Your premiums might go down but your out of pocket costs would skyrocket. This has the potential to have a massive effect. There are roughly 156 million Americans who rely on employer-based health insurance. Caps on out of pocket spending limits would be removed. Employers could opt for plans with cheap premiums that would leave their employees with huge coverage gaps. Nationwide employers could choose to offer plans from states that have the most limited coverage because Trump Care would allow states to decide which (if any) pre-existing conditions are covered. The ACA currently covers things like maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse treatment, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services, and pediatric care, including dental and vision services. States could choose not to cover those things, leaving consumers to pay out of pocket.
I am a credentialed respiratory therapist who works at a critical access rural hospital. The hospital is located in a county where poverty is a huge issue. Trump Care would harm this patient population. Even under the current system, I’ve had to fight and advocate to get my patients needed treatment and equipment. Taking away their coverage protections would literally cause them to die. A COPD patient could potentially be denied O2, nebulizer, or PAP therapy. These therapies and equipment are extremely expensive. The cheapest CPAP machine I’ve seen on the market will run you $400. It costs $1500 for a good one. A BiPAP is even more expensive. It would cost you $10,000 to buy an oxygen concentrator. When I worked for Apria Healthcare, the out of pocket cost for the rental of an oxygen concentrator was $175. For a senior on a fixed income, that would mean deciding between breathing, eating, or medication. Trump Care would literally kill people. Republicans, you built that.
Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party Progressive Caucus