Reviews for the newly announced American Health Care Act, inevitably and immediately dubbed “Trumpcare,” are coming in and they aren’t good.
“Well, Trumpcare is here and you are going to hate it,” Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut told reporters in Washington, D.C. on March 7. “This is a dumpster fire of a bill that was written on the back of a napkin behind closed doors because Republicans know this is a disaster.”
The proposal — the Republican Party’s long-awaited alternative to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare — would eliminate the individual mandate, which requires Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine; cut the number of people insured under Medicaid; and allow insurance companies to charge the elderly up to five times more than the young. It would also require insurers to cover pre existing conditions, but would let them add a 30 percent surcharge to premiums if people go without insurance for too long.
Speaking on the Senate floor on March 7, Murphy repeated his “you’re going to hate it” remark, adding: “It appears that when you ask the question as to who gets hurt under the replacement plan, the answer is everyone with the exception of insurance companies, drug companies and the very wealthy.”
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman also released statements decrying the new bill. Malloy said the proposal “will set back the progress that has been made to enable so many of our neighbors to finally afford quality health insurance. In particular, their plan would drive up costs for individuals and families and gut the expansion of Medicaid that has benefited so many in our country. Hard-working Americans deserve access to quality, affordable insurance, and this plan does the opposite — it risks the coverage that millions already have, drives up costs, and limits care. If enacted, this proposal would cause thousands of Americans to die needlessly.”
“Under the new Republican bill, the rollback to women’s health care will cause costs to rise and access to care to drop,” Wyman said. “Older adults will pay about double what they pay now, and in Connecticut more than 85,000 residents who bought health insurance through the (Access Health) exchange with the help of federal subsidies would see their costs increase.”
The state’s other Democratic senator, Richard Blumenthal, also condemned the proposed bill. “Trumpcare is nothing more than a heartless handout to the wealthy, profiting big insurance at the expense of middle-class families and seniors who would be forced to pay more for stripped down coverage,” he said. “Trumpcare is truly an insult to the thousands of people across Connecticut who have called and written my office and packed town halls and rallies to say clearly and unequivocally that they want to protect and preserve affordable care in America. This plan is dead on arrival and I will do all that I can to ensure its defeat.”
Even some Republican and conservative groups came out against the bill. Conservative advocacy group The Club for Growth stated, “If this warmed-over substitute for government-run health care remains unchanged, the Club for Growth will key vote against it.” A similar group, FreedomWorks, dismissed it as “ObamaCare Lite.”
Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Arkansas and Susan Collins of Maine have said they will not vote for any health care bill that seeks to defund Planned Parenthood, as Trumpcare does — casting some doubt as to whether the bill will ultimately win congressional approval.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told a news conference that Republicans have “all come together behind a proposal that we’re confident will be a dramatic improvement over the status quo.” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Wisconsin told a press conference that the GOP would get the 218 votes needed to pass the bill in the House. “We’ll have 218 when this thing comes to the floor. I can guarantee that.”
In a statement, ConnectiCare — one of two insurers on the state’s exchange, along with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield — said that while the Affordable Care Act replacement bill had just been introduced, “We will be watching carefully to see if Congress can strike the right balance between plan components, like mandates and access guarantees, in order to keep premiums affordable. Making health insurance accessible and affordable to the people of Connecticut is a priority for us. We will continue to work with legislators and regulators here in Connecticut to create a stable and sustainable individual health insurance market.”
Anthem had no immediate comment.