Grim Reaper Exposes Reality of Health Care Bill

Tennesseans Urge Senate to Put Families’ Health Care First, Not Tax Breaks for the Rich and Corporations


National Day of Action Calls Attention to Winners and Losers in GOP Repeal Effort


Tennesseans including Tennessee Citizen Action members, health care advocates and people potentially impacted by Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and radically cut Medicaid joined the Grim Reaper today at the offices of Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.  The group rallied against Republican repeal proposals that cut healthcare from millions of a American families while giving $600 billion in tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations as part of a national day of action led by Health Care for American Now (HCAN) partners.


GOP Senators are expected to vote on a bill that closely resembles the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which House Republicans passed in May, before the end of June. The AHCA takes coverage away from 23 million people, increases costs for older people and people with pre-existing conditions, waters down coverage and ends Medicaid as we know it even for seniors, children and people with disabilities who had Medicaid before passage of ACA.  The House passed AHCA would eliminate health coverage for millions to pay for tax cuts for millionaires. In Tennessee, 637,000 would lose coverage while 4740 households with over $1 million get an a average tax break of $34,853.


In addition to tax breaks for wealthy individuals, the AHCA also includes $145 billion over ten years in tax breaks for big insurance companies and $25 billion over ten years in tax breaks for prescription drug companies.


“Giving tax breaks for the rich, insurance companies and prescription drug companies adds insult to injury in a bill that already cuts healthcare care for 23 million people, makes older people and people with pre-existing conditions pay more for healthcare and slashes Medicaid for seniors, children and people with disabilities,” said Tennessee Citizen Action Executive Director Andy Spears.  “Maybe that’s why Republicans in the Senate are working behind closed doors and are not telling lawmakers or their constituents—the people who will be impacted—what’s in the bill they are in a rush to pass.”


The increased tax breaks for Insurance and prescription drug companies in the Republican repeal proposals are particularly egregious given rising profits over the past several years. The eight biggest insurance companies increased profits by one-third from 2011 to 2015, rising from $19.1 billion to $25.3 billion. The average cost of brand name drugs widely used by older Americans for chronic conditions more than tripled between 2006 and 2015, climbing from $1,788 to $5,897 according to a recent report from AARP.




“Senators have been working on a repeal proposal for months while keeping the details a secret from the public,” said Susan Veale, Associate Director of the Tennessee Health Care Campaign.  “But it’s no secret that their proposal will closely mirror the existing bill and will include massive tax breaks for the wealthy, CEOs and corporations that will be paid for by cutting healthcare for families, ending Medicaid as we know it for seniors, children and people with disabilities and raising costs across the board.”


The AHCA is widely opposed by national organizations including AARP, the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Hospital Association, the Catholic Council of Bishops, and the March of Dimes.  Recent polls confirm that voters also oppose this repeal by a 3 to 1 margin and is the single least popular piece of federal legislation in decades.


Participants in today’s event called on Senators Alexander and Corker to reject any bill that trades cuts to healthcare for families, including eliminating coverage, caps and block grants in Medicaid and increased costs for older people and people with pre-existing conditions for tax breaks that benefit the rich and corporations.



For more on the fight to ensure access to affordable health care, follow @TNCitizenAction


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