Politics in the United States has been taken over by an infectious storm. Since taking office, the actions of President Trump have captivated the country. While Trump’s puzzling decisions have kept us intrigued; we are concerning with the wrong things. The media’s coverage of the administration has been largely related to theatrics and the politics of the moment. Yet, the administration’s stance on healthcare has been understated, given its potential immediate and generational impact.
On May 4th, Republican House members gathered at the White House to celebrate their passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). If enacted, Republicans will finally deliver on their promise to strip the Obama administration of their primary achievement. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) included a mandate for care, additional protections for young adults and coverage expansions for states. Since it became law in 2010, the GOP have fixated on its repeal and AHCA appears to be their best chance.
AHCA passed the House without a single hearing or analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), who determines the potential outcomes of proposed legislation. Even without a CBO score the bill was opposed by nearly every group with a stake in the bill, from the AARP to the American Medical Association. Though each group had its own individual reason for opposing AHCA; the most disastrous aspect could be its adjustment to one of our largest programs.
Medicaid is administered by the federal as well as state governments and provides low-income adults, children and disabled persons with medical coverage. Medicaid requires enrollees receive valuable services such as pediatric care and transpiration to medical facilities. Cuts to Medicaid would put greater economic and physical stress on already distressed groups. As mentioned earlier, taking around 13% of the federal budget, Medicaid is one of the largest federal programs. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Medicaid spending last year was estimated at above $500 billion. Two weeks after the White House celebration, the CBO determined AHCA would decrease Medicaid spending by $834 billion ten years, a cut of nearly 25%.
AHCA’s cuts would cause a drop of nearly 14 million enrollees and would be instrumental in an increase to the uninsured rate. The plan conveys the Republicans lack of regard for the most vulnerable in our country. 68 million Americans rely on the services provided by Medicaid, including nearly 36 million children as of March. These cuts especially threaten both the health and development of children. Low-income school districts depend on Medicaid to provide children with care. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Medicaid contributed over $4 billion directly to schools. Students who receive these services at school are more likely to have greater educational and professional achievement.
Thankfully, this version of the bill is unlikely to pass. Republican Senate leadership has decided to write an entirely new bill amid the public outrage. This new legislation authored by the Caucuses conservative wing is not getting much consulting, even from moderate Republicans. While it appears the rewrite will lessen the cuts to Medicaid, it continues to poses great risk. AHCA does not further tend to our most in need but only turn’s its back to seniors, children and 2 in 5 who are under Medicaid. These cuts stand alone as the most destructive component of the bill and represent the greatest risk to American public.