“Nobody knows health care better than Donald Trump.” Donald Trump, Jan. 31, 2016
“It’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” President Donald Trump, Feb. 27, 2017
In my last column, I described how President Donald Trump thinks he’s a big winner, when in fact, he’s a loser with a big ego. A perfect example is the recent Republican health care fiasco, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), or Trumpcare. Republicans had seven years to craft a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare. They had time to consult experts and create a workable plan. Trump had his whole campaign to do the same.
Instead, Republicans waited until after Trump was inaugurated and then threw together a terrible bill and tried to push it through. For those who still think the ACA was jammed down America’s throat, the first draft of the ACA was presented in July 2009. It was debated in both houses of Congress, voted on, and became law on March 23, 2010. Not exactly an overnight rush job.
The AHCA, or Trumpcare, would have thrown 24 million people off of the health insurance they now have. Premiums would have gone up for those who still had insurance, and coverage would have been cut dramatically. Nevada’s Republican delegation was very concerned about the inadequacies of this bill.
Gov. Brian Sandoval, R-Nev., was concerned about the decrease in Medicaid coverage. Over 300,000 Nevadans qualified for Medicaid under the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid.
“Any type of reduction in benefits would be harmful to our state. Governors similarly situated to Nevada all agree they want to protect people who have coverage.” (LVN, March 10, 2017)
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., announced that he did not support the AHCA due to the same fears about Medicaid cuts. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said he was also worried about the Medicaid cuts, and he was disappointed because Republicans hadn’t gotten input from any experts about the impact of the bill.
“How can I have a serious conversation about health care when I can’t go back to any record whatsoever.” (LVN, March 15, 2017)
They’re all correct. This was a political bill, not a health care bill, and that’s why it failed. Republicans didn’t even dare bring it to a vote; they pulled it on March 24.
One of the most important parts of Obamacare was its requirement that ten essential health benefits be included in all health insurance policies. Trumpcare made these services optional; insurance companies could cut any or all of them, as they saw fit. This would save money on premiums. Check the following list of essential benefits and decide how many of them you would want to cut in order to save money on your premiums.
Ambulatory patient services (doctor visits, outpatient care); emergency services; hospitalization; maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance abuse services; prescription drugs; rehabilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive services and chronic disease management (something emergency rooms can’t provide); and pediatric services.
All of us don’t need all of these benefits. I’ll never need substance abuse services, but I’m glad they’re available for those who do need them. Republican men have whined that they shouldn’t have to pay for maternity care. For the supposed pro-life party to say that prenatal care and care for newborns and their mothers is unimportant is the height of hypocrisy. We should want babies to be strong and healthy so they can grow up to be the strong, healthy people we need to have a strong, healthy, prosperous country.
The point of insurance is to spread the risk. Everyone doesn’t need every provision of a plan. Insurance companies know this and price things accordingly. Men paying for maternity care and women paying for prostate exams is just how insurance works. It keeps the costs down for everyone, and makes us a stronger country. We need more of that, not less.
Trump’s response to the failure of the AHCA is pure Trump — blame everyone else and move on. He tried to blame the Democrats in Congress, but they had nothing to do with the failure. There were more than enough Republicans to pass the bill. The fact that so many Republicans refused to support the bill shows how deeply flawed it was. If Trump can’t even get his own party, which controls the entire federal government, to carry out a promise he made, what kind of negotiator does that make him? A losing one.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.