■ Melissa Diaz Hernandez / Reporter
The Democratic Action Group rallied for health care at the corner of Sanderson and Florida Avenues on June 3 waiving signs emblazoned with such slogans as, “Health Care – Not Health Can’t,” and “Keep health-care affordable.”
“Protests nationwide in the next few weeks are critical to show members of Congress that many Americans do not support the House version of the new Health-Care bill,” said Hemet/San Jacinto Democratic Action Group Chair Donna Viola.
The bill made it through the House with Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA) voting against it. In an interview with ABC News in May, Ruiz adamantly stated that “People do die if they don’t have access to the health care that they need, and that’s what’s missing in this.”
51 million could become uninsured by 2026
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under H.R. 1628 than under current law. According to the CBO and JCT, “The increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number projected under current law would reach 19 million in 2020 and 23 million in 2026. In 2026, an estimated 51 million people under age 65 would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law. Under the legislation, a few million of those people would use tax credits to purchase policies that would not cover major medical risks.”
“POTUS’ budget cuts programs that invest in our health and economic security,” stated Dr. Ruiz on Twitter. “We should invest in everyone – not just millionaires and corporations.”
Seniors may pay $12,000 more annually
“The people of the San Jacinto Valley need to realize is that if congress does not pass an affordable healthcare act, people 55 and older will be paying $12,000 more per year, which for low-income families and retirees is an impossibility,” said Viola during the rally. “We need to contact Republicans and Democrats to do a bipartisan affordable healthcare act and extend Medicaid and Medicare to all in California.”
Ruiz, in an opinion piece written for The Hill, stated “as a civilized society, our standard has to be higher than whether or not someone died. Being forced to the edge of death because you don’t have access to health care is indecent and inhumane. I have seen countless patients in my ER because they couldn’t afford Lasix, a medicine that prevents fluid retention in people with congestive heart failure. They were literally drowning in their own bodily fluids. As a matter of policy, do we really want to say that is acceptable?”
Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), who serves as co-chair of the Indian Health Task Force with Ruiz and was one of 217 Republicans who voted in favor of the bill, tweeted the following: “Facts don’t lie → #OK saw health insurance premiums TRIPLE from 2013-2017 in @HHSGov study. Read it for yourself: http://bit.ly/2qWb7iN.”
Rally attendee Carol Cripps, who is also the head of voter registration for the Democrats of Hemet/San Jacinto, commented “I believe that healthcare is truly a right – not a privilege. It shouldn’t just be reserved for the wealthy.”
Bill may die in the Senate
Currently, the bill is with the Senate and according to recent reports, may not make it out. However, some lawmakers are saying that there will be a push to get the ACA repealed by the August recess. 20 Republicans and 193 Democrats in the House voted against the American Health Care Act on May 4. The bill passed with 217 Republicans voting in favor – not one Democrat voted in favor of the bill.
“Obamacare has already caused enormous harm in this country. It is the single biggest job killer in this country and it is hammering small businesses,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) June 1 on the Chris Salcedo Show. “Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, have been forced into part-time work, have lost their health insurance, have lost their doctors and have seen their premiums skyrocket.
“I think we have got to repeal Obamacare,” continued Cruz. “In my view failure is not an option. Republicans have spent the last seven years campaigning all over the country saying, ‘Elect us and we’ll repeal Obamacare.’ We will be laughingstocks if we don’t deliver on it.”
Cruz focused on the increasing costs.
“Right now, I am literally spending every waking moment trying to bring together Republicans, trying to unite the Republican conference so that we can focus on two things: honoring our promise to repeal Obamacare and critically lowering health insurance premiums. The biggest reason so many millions of Americans are unhappy with Obamacare is it’s caused premiums to skyrocket. The average family’s premiums have increased over $5,000 per year.”
According to the CBO, “Although premiums would decline, on average, in states that chose to narrow the scope of EHBs [Essential Health Benefits], some people enrolled in nongroup insurance would experience substantial increases in what they would spend on health care.
“People living in states modifying the EHBs who used services or benefits no longer included in the EHBs would experience substantial increases in out-of-pocket spending on health care or would choose to forgo the services. Services or benefits likely to be excluded from the EHBs in some states include maternity care, mental health and substance abuse benefits, rehabilitative and habilitative services, and pediatric dental benefits.”
Out of pocket costs for maternity and substance abuse may skyrocket
The CBO states that mental health and maternity care spending would increase under the new bill. “In particular, out-of-pocket spending on maternity care and mental health and substance abuse services could increase by thousands of dollars in a given year for the nongroup enrollees who would use those services.”
“My life is not a commodity to be traded on Wall Street” said Government Outreach Chair Judith Rice prior to the rally.
“Human beings are depreciable assets on that balance sheet. They don’t want us to be healthy; they want us to die. We are expensive. There is no marketplace in health. All hospitals are parts of chains and they keep adding people to the chain,” said Rice, a retired nurse. “The insurance industry, which it is, it is an industry. If you have an empty bed, it’s not profitable. You may not have a bed because it’s not profitable. Prevention is not profitable.”
According to the CBO, the ACA’s ban on annual and lifetime limits on covered benefits would no longer apply to health benefits not defined as essential in a state.
“As a result, for some benefits that might be removed from a state’s definition of EHBs but that might not be excluded from insurance coverage altogether, some enrollees could see large increases in out-of-pocket spending because annual or lifetime limits would be allowed. That could happen, for example, to some people who use expensive prescription drugs. Out-of-pocket payments for people who have relatively high health care spending would increase most in the states that obtained waivers from the requirements for both the EHBs and community rating.”