Jennifer Perkins: Rural communities would be hit hard by GOP health plan

Cheryl Sanders
July 12, 2017

The Affordable Care Act has brought some undeniable benefits, especially for our local hospitals, by expanding Medicaid coverage and allowing more people to seek preventive care. By contrast, households earning less than $10,000 a year would lose out on an average of about $2,600 in federal benefits annually, according to the analysis published Tuesday by the nonpartisan Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.

We all know that the rich are already so rich that their tax savings in the bill would make little difference in their lives, while huge suffering will fall on our fellow citizens who work hard ever yday just to scrape together a living and provide for their families and children. Lowering Medicaid spending in this way shifts all financial risk to states.

Without insurance, you're looking at very high prices for cash-pay therapy, public clinics, veterans affairs for those who qualify, or in some cases, sliding-scale therapy. I am not advocating socialism, but health care as a public necessity like Social Security. A report released this week by the The Commonwealth Fund also estimates the bill could force the loss of more than 22,000 jobs in Louisiana and more than $3 billion in the state's business output over the next decade. Block grants generally decrease sharply in value over time - like the TANF block grant, which is worth 30 percent less than when it was enacted - because the Congress can use them as a piggy-bank for ever-increasing federal "savings" just by changing the formula a little. The state has absorbed Medicaid cuts - like a $130 million blow it took last fall - and lost programs it would still have had it expanded, he said. However, the benefits that were available to those past age 65 could be extended to individuals under 65 who would ordinarily qualify for the welfare rolls. Neither the House Republicans nor their Senate counterparts held a hearing on their versions of the bill before unveiling the legislation.

"The Senate health care bill means consumers will have to pay more for less coverage", said Barbara Kim Stanton, state director of AARP Hawai'i.

But under the Senate bill's Medicaid per capita cap, federal contributions would be capped, removing the federal guarantee in place today.

The effects on specific households could vary, however. With his strong words and humble ways, Pope Francis reminds all of us, "the measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty".

Other Southern states, such as SC and Louisiana, would also benefit from the adjustment formula.

Those subsidies would become less generous for many in the lower middle class, while for the upper middle class as a whole, the bill would be a wash. "It's a tax cut bill for the super-rich".

Private practice therapists in Colorado, for example, generally charge north of $100 an hour, making this option out of reach for many.

He further explained that surveying these groups provides a snapshot of the core population that benefits from the government health insurance program and can better help inform the debate surrounding budget appropriations for Medicaid that will affect a group largely satisfied with their services. But the underlying lesson here is that if somebody's protected from cutbacks, somebody else is even more vulnerable than they'd be if there were a level playing field.

Jen's husband's insurance doesn't cover all of the costs for Caylin's medical needs.

There are provisions in the ACA that employers support.

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