Why healthcare counts.

A short while ago, I  mused:

“One of the most important issues facing America today is how to provide affordable health care to the public. In an ostensible attempt to repair and replace Obamacare, the House passed H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act of 2017 or AHCA.   At best, the AHCA is controversial.

“Rather than build on the current Obamacare system, AHCA tears it up…. ‘AHCA simply destroys Obamacare and deprives a million Georgians of health coverage (and many millions of other Americans to boot) to give the richest of the rich a huge tax cut.  In a way, the AHCA is like a reverse Robin Hood move to help the super wealthy.’

“‘Earlier this month, the Atlanta Journal Constitution did a poll of voters in Georgia’s heavily contested 6th Congressional District.      http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2017/06/12/ajc-poll-georgia-6th-voters-reject-house-gops-health-care-overhaul/   In the article, the AJC says: ‘Health care is high on the minds of voters in Georgia’s 6th congressional district, but most disapprove of the House GOP’s current proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare.’”

“Newsweek says: ‘The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate has received constant waves of criticism over its secret tinkering with the controversial and widely panned American Healthcare Act (AHCA)—even from President Donald Trump, who reportedly said it was ‘’mean’ and asked that it be ‘more generous.’”     http://www.newsweek.com/gop-healthcare-trump-jobs-626351

“Trump’s characterization of the bill, which passed the House of Representatives last month, could very well be correct, and may even affect one of his top campaign promises: boosting the economy and jobs.” http://www.newsweek.com/gop-healthcare-trump-jobs-62635

“A study examining how each state could be affected if it passes the Senate and is written into law, published Wednesday by The Commonwealth Fund, found that by 2026 nearly one million jobs could be lost, state gross domestic product could shrink by $93 billion and businesses could suffer a $148 billion bite.” Ibid.

InternationalMosaic.com emailed a letter asking the two candidates to state their positions on AHCA earlier this week. A copy of the text of the letter is attached.

  Dear Ms. Handel and Mr. Ossoff:

I am writing to you on behalf of the InternationalMosaic.com blogsite.  InternationalMosaic.com tries to develop a free discussion of ideas which matter to the public. Towards this end, I am beginning a new discussion of the future of healthcare in America.

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act of 2017 or AHCA.  My question to each of you is whether you support, oppose, are ambivalent about or currently have no position on the AHCA. In any case, after answering that simple question, feel free to provide me an explanation of your position.  The explanation can be up to five pages double spaced 12-point type pages long. Please email your simple response (with your optional explanation) by 3:00 p.m. EST, on June 18, 2017, and I will put on the InternationalMosaic.com blogsite. I will put the responses and explanations on the blogsite in the order I receive them from you.

Given the importance of healthcare issues to the public, some background information is important.

On May 24, 2017, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) and Joint Committee on Taxation (“JCT”) (for convenience, sometimes collectively referred to as CBO) published a report on AHCA.   https://www.cbo.gov/publication/52752  The CBO’s conclusions are striking.

First, “CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under H.R. 1628 than under current law. The increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number projected under current law would reach 19 million in 2020 and 23 million in 2026. In 2026, an estimated 51 million people under age 65 would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law. Under the legislation, a few million of those people would use tax credits to purchase policies that would not cover major medical risks.” Cf. http://www.mag.org/news/articles/AMA-responds-to-CBOs-AHCA-estimates

Second, with respect to the “Effects on Premiums and Out-of-Pocket Payments […] CBO and JCT projected premiums for single policyholders under H.R. 1628 (before any tax credits were applied) and compared those with the premiums projected under current law for policies purchased in the nongroup market. H.R. 1628, as passed by the House, would tend to increase such premiums before 2020, relative to those under current law—by an average of about 20 percent in 2018 and 5 percent in 2019, as the funding provided by the act to reduce premiums had a larger effect on pricing.” The agencies find it difficult to predict how premiums and out-of-pockets costs will grow after 2019 because AHCA allows states to get waivers that would permit dramatic premium increases and/or dramatic benefit cuts.

     As to Georgia in particular, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Families USA and the Georgia Budget  & Policy Institute have concluded, among many things, that the repeal of Obamacare will cause 1 million people in Georgia to lose health coverage.  http://www.cbpp.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/12-7-16health-factsheets-ga.pdf   http://familiesusa.org/product/defending-health-care-2017-what-stake-georgia   https://gbpi.org/2016/affordable-care-act-repeal-risks-health-1-million-georgians/

Some of the groups other conclusions about Georgia are equally alarming. For example, Families USA notes if Obamacare is repealed, 4.3 Georgians with pre-existing conditions may lose health coverage.  http://familiesusa.org/product/defending-health-care-2017-what-stake-georgia  As another example, the Center also concludes that the harmful effects of an Obamacare repeal will be felt “immediately”.

The AHCA and Obamacare issues are very important.  Please send your answer to my simple question and an up to five-page response as soon as possible.

Thank you.

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