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Nurses Call on Senate Republicans to Halt Passage of ‘Mean’ Health Care Legislation

National Nurses United Press Release, 6/22/17

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Taking Away Healthcare from Millions Not Way to Fix the ACA

National Nurses United today called on Senate Republicans to halt efforts to pass the secretive bill being rushed through Senate that could rip away health coverage for tens of millions and severely punish the sickest Americans with much higher out of pocket costs for health coverage.

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s secret maneuvering to pass a massive healthcare overhaul bill by hiding its contents and rushing it through without hearings or even modest public review is disgraceful,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN.

“But what is even worse is the apparent content of legislation that is modeled on a cruel House version that even President Trump described as ‘mean’,” Ross said.

“While full details of the Senate version have been guarded under lock and key, what is apparent, noted Ross, “is that the hidden agenda of the legislation in the House bill, massive tax handouts to the richest Americans and corporate donors to those writing the law, remain intact.”

“The barbarity of ending Medicaid coverage for millions of low income adults coupled with a huge increase in costs for people with even minor so-called pre-existing health conditions, all while slashing taxes by up to nearly $800 billion for the wealthy and very wealthy will be long remembered by voters,” said Ross. “And we will help remind them.

“No one should ignore the deficiencies of the Affordable Care Act including leaving 28 million uninsured, and failing to control increasing out of pocket costs. But the response must not be this inhumane legislation. There is only one solution, not to deprive people of care, or bankrupt them for receiving the care they need, but by guaranteeing care for all by improving and expanding Medicare to cover everyone,” Ross said.

In addition to the multiple inequities in the House version of the bill, documented in a May Congressional Budget Office report, two recent studies indicate even broader consequences.

As noted in the Washington Post June 15:

  • A Commonwealth Fund study concluded that if the House health-care bill became law, “By 2026, 924,000 jobs would be lost, gross state products would be $93 billion lower, and business output would be $148 billion less.”
  • An analysis by the Center for American Progress concludes that if yearly and lifetime caps are once again allowed, 27 million people with employer-based coverage could be subject to yearly caps and 20 million could be subject to lifetime caps.

In a letter to House members April 27, Ross and NNU Co-President Deborah Burger, RN, cited other “abhorrent proposals” in the House version, many likely still in the Senate bill:

  • Eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which will worsen the health of our communities, spread infectious disease, and increase health system costs;
  • Phase out coverage for Medicaid expansion in Medicaid expansion states beginning in 2020, while preventing new states from receiving enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage in order to expand Medicaid;
  • Institute a per capita cap for Medicaid, along with the option for states to use a block grant instead. Both options will reduce coverage for the most vulnerable, shift care from clinics to emergency rooms, increase system costs for the chronically ill as they defer treatments because of cost, and unfairly shift the burden of costs to the states;
  • Allow states to determine eligibility, scope and benefits for Medicaid, which would encourage states to eliminate a broad range of covered health services.
  • Eliminate funding to Planned Parenthood which will worsen women’s health, and create burdens for women, families and society from unsafe pregnancies and other health conditions no longer treated;
  • Repeal the cost-sharing subsidies of the ACA, and destroy the ability of 80% of people currently buying insurance on the Exchanges to maintain coverage;
  • Open the door for junk insurance.  The bill includes a penalty for lack of continuous coverage, creating a big incentive for patients to buy low-cost, no-coverage plans;
  • Reproduce the failed “high – risk pools” of the 1990’s and 2000’s, through the “Patient and Stability Fund”.  It is inevitable that the number of eligible patients will overwhelm the resources of these high risk pools;
  • Repeal the Medicare Hospital Insurance Tax, which will reduce funding and destabilize for the Medicare program that our nation’s seniors rely on;
  • Allow insurers to charge seniors five times the amount of a younger person. This revision will prove to be deadly for our nation’s seniors, and it reveals the extent to which this reform will benefit the profit margins of insurance companies, at the expense of patients’ lives.
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