Let’s briefly recount how the House of Representatives managed to pass an unpopular health bill that will strip coverage from millions of Americans.
In March, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) realized he lacked the votes to pass Trumpcare and pulled it from the floor about half-an-hour before a scheduled vote. At a press conference, the speaker predicted that “we’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.” Liberals relaxed.
And in that moment of relaxation, the bill’s opponents also let up some of the pressure on House Republicans. That is what gave Ryan another bite at the apple.
Moreover, there is another dynamic at work that makes this particular moment especially perilous for the tens of thousands of Americans who will die if Trumpcare becomes law.
As Brian Beutler writes, the news industry as a whole has a bias “toward what you might call ‘new news.’” When amendments are flying, or senators are announcing new positions on the bill, or there’s actually an open debate about whether or not Congress will vote to strip health care from millions of people, the media pays attention. People learn about what’s in the bill and they get upset. Lawmakers feel pressure.
And then, when the wave of “new” news stops, the focus turns elsewhere and some of the pressure is released. It is in that moment of quiet when Trumpcare is most likely to become law.
For this reason, ThinkProgress will now — and until the bill is formally dead-and-buried — provide occasional reminders that, yup, Republicans are still trying to pass a bill that will be a death sentence for tens of thousands of innocent people. We will do so when there is new news, and we will do so when the debate over Trumpcare has receded into the background.
As our first installment in this new series, we present this brief reminder of what happens if Trumpcare becomes law.
Many people die.
The House version of Trumpcare will strip 23 million people of health coverage by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The Senate version reduces that number to 22 million by 2026, although the Senate bill also calls for much deeper cuts to Medicaid in subsequent decades.
A study examining mortality rates in Massachusetts both before and after the state enacted health reforms similar to Obamacare determined that “for every 830 adults gaining insurance coverage there was one fewer death per year.” That means about 26,500 people will die in 2026 alone, who otherwise would have lived, if the Senate bill becomes law.
Medicaid also dies.
The Senate version of Trumpcare caps Medicaid spending, and then reduces the real dollar value of this cap with each passing year. The bill, in other words, slowly phases out Medicaid.
By 2036, the bill cuts more than a third of Medicaid spending.
Medicaid currently provides coverage to 75 million individuals. It primarily serves vulnerable populations such as the poor, the disabled, and the elderly.
Big tax cuts for the rich
Not everyone is a loser under Trumpcare, however. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Brandon Debot, “the 400 highest-income taxpayers alone would receive tax cuts worth about $33 billion from 2019 through 2028” under the House version of Trumpcare.
That’s enough money to fund the entire Obamacare Medicaid expansion in four states put together.
As you read this, Republicans in the Senate are working to make this bill a reality. They will keep doing so, even if there is no new Trumpcare news.