Lake County News: California Senate calls on Congress to reject ACA repeal; Thompson calls GOP bill ‘wealth care’
Elizabeth Larson | Lake County News
LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – On the same day that the Congressional Budget Office released its report on the possible impacts of a new law to replace the Affordable Care Act, the California Senate and Congressman Mike Thompson, whose district represents a portion of Lake County, both separately demanded Congress abandon the new plan.
The Congressional Budget Office’s report, released Monday, estimated that 14 million people would lose their health coverage in the next year under the GOP’s repeal. That number would rise to 21 million in 2020 and 24 million by 2026.
The report showed that the legislation would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over the 2017 to 2026 period. Outlays would be reduced by a $1.2 trillion decrease in direct spending over the period, and revenues would be reduced by $883 billion.
On Monday afternoon, the California State Senate passed Senate Resolution 26, calling on Congress to reject the ACA repeal unless it’s replaced with a plan that ensures that not one American will lose coverage and that coverage will be more affordable and of higher quality for all Americans.
“I believe that our president is wrong – the Affordable Care Act is not failing, in fact it is succeeding wildly in California,” said Sen. Mike McGuire, whose district includes Lake County. “I proudly represent a rural part of California, and repealing the ACA will put the lives of rural California residents at risk. For example, a senior resident in a small, rural California county will have to pay several thousand dollars more per year out of her own pocket under ‘President Trump Care.’ This is unacceptable.”
California has experienced the largest percentage point decline in the uninsured rate of any state – a significant drop from 17.2 percent in 2013 to 7.1 percent in 2016, McGuire’s office reported.
On Monday, Congressman Thompson called the repeal effort “reckless” and demanded that his colleagues in Congress abandon the plan.
“The president and Republican leadership would rip health care away from hardworking families and seniors in order to give tax cuts to billionaires and big corporations,” Thompson said. “It’s extremely telling that the very first section in their bill does not address rising out-of-pocket costs, access to doctors, or any of the challenges real Americans face. Instead, it gives a big tax cut to insurance companies that pay their executives multimillion dollar salaries.”
Thompson added, “The CBO’s report makes it clear that gutting our health care system will not bring prices down or help more Americans afford insurance. Instead, it will snatch coverage away from those who need it the most.”
He said more Americans will be forced to go without health care – or rely on emergency services in a time of crisis. “If they can’t afford the bills, American taxpayers will have to pick up the costs – all so big businesses can get tax cuts on their bonuses. This isn’t health care. It’s wealth care.”
Thompson told reporters last week, on the day the new American Health Care Act was released, that he was concerned about the potential threats to the three million jobs created under the Affordable Care Act – 350,000 of them in California alone.
He said the new bill also weakens Medicare, and takes two years off the Medicare Trust Fund, which the Affordable Care Act extended.
The tax provisions in the American Health Care Act will be a windfall to some corporations and billionaires, while middle-income and lower-income Americans will be hit, Thompson said.
He also was worried about how quickly the bill could get through the House of Representatives, with Republican leadership wanting to have it voted out of the House by April. “The House looks like it’s going to blow this thing right through.”
Thompson said he doesn’t expect the bill will get the same open and transparent hearing process that the Affordable Care Act had. There are expected to be very few hearings on the bill, compared to the 79 held on the Affordable Care Act.
“That’s kind of a sad way to do business,” and deprives the American people of knowing what’s in the bill, Thompson said.
Thompson held four town hall meetings around his district on the bill. “There’s a lot of interest in this out in the communities,” he said, adding that he had to turn away hundreds of people due to space.
In Santa Rosa, he got a larger venue – the gym at Piner High School – and had 2,000 people show up.
“This is something that the American people care about,” he said.
On Wednesday, Thompson introduced an amendment at the Committee on Ways and Means to allow states to keep their existing health care system rather than repeal it, and provide states the option to retain their existing marketplaces, benefit protections, and cost sharing and premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. However, Republicans rejected the proposal.
In his written testimony to the Committee, Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California, said, “The Affordable Care Act is working and we at Covered California have built a sustainable and competitive marketplace. In addition to our 1.4 million consumers, approximately 900,000 Californians who do not get subsidies benefit from the lower rates, protections and the more consumer-centric competitive marketplace that we foster.”
On Monday, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones also weighed in the proposed legislation, which he called “Trumpcare.”
“The Congressional Budget Office analysis is further proof that the House GOP proposal to repeal the ACA and Trumpcare bill is bad for Californians and Americans. The CBO's independent, nonpartisan and objective analysis shows that the House GOP proposal will not even come close to delivering on their promises,” Jones said.
“The Affordable Care Act successfully provided 20 million previously uninsured Americans with health coverage. Because of the ACA, today more Americans have health insurance than at any time in our nation's history. However, under the House GOP proposal, that progress will be abandoned, and reversed,” he added.
Jones said the House GOP proposal caps federal Medicaid assistance to states and the tax credits available to working families and eliminates the cost-sharing assistance enjoyed by half of those getting a premium subsidy through Covered California.
He said it also raises the price of insurance for seniors and eliminates essential benefits requirements.
“This flawed proposal puts coverage out of reach for many who are currently insured, failing to deliver on President Trump's promise of 'insurance for everybody,’” Jones said.