The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as ‘Obamacare’ was passed in 2010 as a promise to the American public that insurers could not discriminate against individuals with pre-existing health care conditions. It did not matter if you were a mother with a cesarean section or were the victim of sexual assault, insurance providers both those on public exchanges and through your employer could not raise rates for you. If you were a woman seeking an abortion there was also the possibility of Planned Parenthood assistance through government Medicaid funds. Not to mention, through Obamacare’s mandate for everyone to have health care or face either a fine totaling $695 or 2.5% of one’s income, whichever was higher it was clear that all Americans shared a moral responsibility for the American health care system. The federal government’s mandate provided an approach to decrease the per capita cost of care in the country.
However, with the House recently passing The American Health Care Act, otherwise known as ‘Trumpcare’ and the bill having been sent to the Senate for approval, the future for American healthcare appears quite bleak. The promises in Obamacare can easily disappear. For one that safety shield of discrimination seems to be already dwindling. Trumpcare, if passed can allow states to opt out of the pre-existing condition rule. A state may receive a waiver from the federal government to act on the pre-existing conditions of patients as long as they share an alternate plan to lower premiums. While ‘lower premiums’ may seem enticing, there is no guarantee that those previously uninsured have a reason to be at ease. In the theoretical world of Trumpcare if you are a recently diagnosed cancer patient who is previously uninsured, you will reach out to health insurance companies on the exchanges. However, insurers will now not only have the option of increasing your rates based on your recently diagnosed illness, but can even deny you coverage altogether. For someone who is in shock over their illness they will have the monumental stress of emptying their life savings to live. Talk about problems.
There are sexist hues that come with the disappearance of the pre-existing condition rule. There is no guarantee that under Trumpcare a woman who requires preventative pregnancy care or maternity care for that matter can be assured her insurance company will cover her costs. The insurance companies can be selective and deny certain minimum benefit standards. Obamacare on the other hand had mandated that all insurance companies had to provide 10 categories of care ranging from postpartum depression to substance abuse. Additionally, women may not be able to knock on the doors of Planned Parenthood if Medicaid funds are cut from the organization. Several right-wing government officials applaud the $880 billion in Medicaid savings that will accumulate over the course of 10 years if the senate passes the bill, but these officials fail to recognize the needs of low income Americans and the basic rights of women.
The American Health Care Act also places an emphasis on older age and of a higher income by providing tax credits. It simultaneously presents a blind eye to the 25% population under 65 that includes individuals with an illness. The act assumes that the younger population is healthy, but as the number of individuals with pre-existing conditions increases Trumpcare could pose a major problem. This combined with the increasing rate of Americans taking contractual, temporary jobs without salaries and benefits will lead to millions under 65 struggling for rightful health care.
Proponents of the bill state that its MacArthur amendment protects against discrimination by explicitly stating, “nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to discriminate in rates for health insurance coverage by gender” or to “limit access to health coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions.” Ironically if we read the quote closer it is clear the amendment does not protect against discrimination but rather prevents Americans from pointing the blame on the federal government for discriminatory insurance practices.
It isn’t just enough to accept that Trumpcare or a possible Senate Republican Healthcare bill will become reality. Several protests have already taken place nationwide in the form of fundraisers. Both nationally and on the local level progressives are raising money to unseat Republican House members of the Republicans in the 2018.
Overall the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 24 million people will be uninsured as result of Trumpcare, but are even those ‘insured’ under Trumpcare protected if they cannot even access basic health care coverage for their innate mental health issues or are discriminated for rape, a circumstance outside their control?