Opinion: Editorial: Dire and Urgent

Opinion: Editorial: Dire and Urgent

Does current repeal effort set the stage for billions in tax cuts for the wealthiest?

“Dire and urgent.” Those are the words used by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner to describe the need to turn back the most recent attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

In addition to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with a plan that would result in chaos, the Graham-Cassidy bill also repeals Medicaid as we know it, Virginia’s senators said in a call with reporters last week.

“Why are they going after Medicaid?” asked U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine. Per capita caps on Medicaid have “nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act.”

The proposed cuts include $243 billion less between 2020 and 2026 for the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, and cuts to the rest of Medicaid of $175 billion during the same period, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis. The cuts would grow dramatically in 2027, with nearly $300 billion more in cuts that year alone.

“Why go after Medicaid? Why?” Kaine asked again. Kaine is pretty sure he knows the answer: To generate money for billions in tax cuts for the wealthy.

“Senators who support this [repeal], who think that the Federal government should not be paying for health care for the poor, for the aged, for the disabled, are planning to give this money to the wealthiest Americans in tax cuts.

“We must resist that at all costs.”

While the Graham-Cassidy bill appears to lack the votes to pass right now, and many people predict that the Senate will move on from trying to repeal and replace the affordable care act, vigilance is still required.

These ongoing efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act also threaten the quality of coverage for everyone by shredding protection on pre-existing conditions, by stripping funding for addiction and mental health treatment in the midst of a nationwide opioid epidemic, by allowing lifetime caps on coverage that would leave the most seriously ill patients without coverage, by undermining what constitutes “essential benefits,” the very definition of what one expects to be covered by insurance.

— Mary Kimm