The U.S. House Republicans' super-secret Obamacare replacement is out and it's all about freedom.
Yes, if you're one of the 20 million Americans who gained health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, you may soon enjoy the freedom of no longer being covered. We don't know how many people will be covered, but even Republicans acknowledge that it will be a lower number than the ACA.
As President Donald Trump finally noticed last month, health policy is kinda complicated. So it will be awhile before we know all the details of the GOP plan. But one key element to reducing coverage is that they'd end the federal funding in 2020 for states who expand Medicaid. Currently, 31 states, including Michigan, have expanded Medicaid to cover 10 million people.
That could definitely put Michigan's program in jeopardy. Gov. Rick Snyder had to fight tooth and nail with his fellow Republicans in the Legislature just to get the expansion in the first place. The Legislature has only gotten more conservative since then and Snyder is term-limited next year. It's easy to imagine a Gov. Bill Schuette, who fought Obamacare all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, joining together with GOP lawmakers to scrap Michigan's Medicaid expansion.
There are 640,000 Michiganders who now have health coverage due to the expansion — more than 6 percent of the state's population. Yanking away health insurance from them would be unnecessarily cruel. And it's not even smart economic policy. The expansion will have a $432 million impact this year, according to a University of Michigan study commissioned by the New York-based Commonwealth Fund. And that's created 30,000 jobs. Given the fact that Trump goes around irresponsibly taking credit for companies keeping a couple hundred jobs in the United States, you'd think that losing 30,000 jobs in just Michigan alone might give him pause.
There are many other ways that people could lose their health insurance under the GOP plan. Insurance subsidies for low-income people would be replaced with age-based subsidies, which would likely reduce benefits and the number of people who are insured. The New York Times reports that people with preexisting conditions "would face new uncertainties in a more deregulated insurance market." And the plan cuts off funding to Planned Parenthood.
But at least people who didn't want to buy health insurance will escape paying that freedom-sucking penalty, right? Well, yes ... but if you let your insurance coverage lap because you've changed jobs, didn't want to pay for it, etc., the GOP plan allows insurance companies to sock you with a 30 percent premium increase. That's probably going to be a much bigger hit to your wallet.
The Republican concept of freedom always seems to come with a lot of not-so fine print.
If there's one thing Americans love, it's when politicians meddle and make things worse. And they really love having things taken away from them. So this new GOP plan should really go over well.