On May 4 the U.S. House passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), often referred to as Obamacare. Regardless of what you might think of the ACA, this new bill is far worse. Part of the reason I am writing is to make sure your readers are aware that our Representative, John Shimkus, proudly voted for the AHCA. The AHCA repeals the taxes imposed to pay for the ACA. This may sound good, but in reality, it is a massive (on the order of $800 billion) tax reduction for very wealthy Americans and virtually no relief for everyone else. Rep. Shimkus stated, "AHCA explicitly maintains coverage for people with pre-existing conditions...by providing $8 billion in resources over the next 5 years, in addition to the $100 billion over the next 10 years that was already included in the bill." However, the cost of having these 'high-risk' pools provide adequate and affordable coverage for this group has been estimated at around $200 billion over those ten years, a mere $192 billion over what Rep. Shimkus seems so happy with. So much for that claim. Moreover, the AHCA removes the prohibition on annual or lifetime benefit caps for policies, including those for large employers. Welcome back medical bankruptcies. Of course, we don't have firm verification of these figures since the bill was rushed to a vote before the Congressional Budget Office could score its consequences. When asked by a reporter yesterday if he had read the bill before voting, Rep. Shimkus replied, "I just got back from baseball practice." We surely deserve much better representation than this and a much better health care plan. Shame on those who voted for this bill. They are no longer worthy of representing us.
Peter Andrews, Charleston