The House of Representatives last week passed the American Health Care Act to replace the existing health care legislation. If this bill became law, what would be the consequences, to name but a few, for those Americans who currently have health care coverage?
1. 24 million would lose coverage in the next few years, including the disabled, those in nursing homes, those who cannot afford rising premiums if they have pre-existing conditions (i.e., over 1 million North Carolinians), such as diabetes, heart disease, congenital abnormalities, mental illness and cancer. Many of these are children, excluded by age from doing anything to help themselves.
2. Lifetime limits will be placed on maximum insurance benefits.
3. State waivers on who to adequately cover, how much money will be allocated, etc., virtually guarantees wide variation on adequate coverage, due to geography, economic health and political leanings.
3. Those unaffected by such devastating results are members of the federal legislative, executive and judicial branches of our government, and the very, very rich, who already enjoy the lifetime security of comprehensive health insurance they can purchase.
4. Whereas the House believes that its bill has enough governmental funding to prevent such consequences, the majority of health care experts, hospitals, health insurers, organized medicine and health policy experts strongly disagree, supported by factually transparent studies and broad experience in this field. And of course, this is counter to the opinions of an overwhelming majority of Americans, regardless of how they voted, who have such insurance. What do they know that our federal government doesn’t?
5. As a retired pediatrician, I am frankly frustrated, angry and ashamed to be an American because of what we are about to do. As long as other developed countries enjoy adequate and successful health insurance for all of their citizens, we are not the most successful nation on the planet. We are, in reality, guilty of economic racism, and the utter failure of states’ rights when it comes to equality in health care.
Norman is a retired pediatric nephrologist in Charlotte.