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GOP making America suffer again

7/7/2017, 1:10 p.m.
How devastating would the Republican health care legislation be if enacted?

Jesse L. Jackson Sr.

How devastating would the Republican health care legislation be if enacted?

Leighton Ku, a leading health care expert and director of the Center for Health Policy Research at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, told NBC that, based on the Republican House bill, cuts in funding for Medicaid and health subsidies would trigger “sharp job losses and a broad disruption of state economies.”

“Within a decade, almost a million fewer people would have jobs,” he added. “The downturn would hit the states that expanded Medicaid the hardest.” That includes West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

This job loss wouldn’t be offset by the effects of top-end tax cuts. If the wealthy do create any jobs, which is far from likely, they won’t be located in the states and communities ravaged by the cutbacks in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes.

Republicans hope to escape responsibility for this outrage by stealth and deception. The Senate bill was written in secret by a cabal of rich rulers — 13 white male senators. They permitted no hearings. The experts and hospital and doctors’ associations that oppose it were not allowed to testify. Voters know little about it. Most senators haven’t had time to read it, much less understand it.

The deception is that the gutting of Medicaid is phased in over time, even as the tax cuts for the rich are made retroactive to the beginning of the year. That allows Republicans to claim the bill is gentler than the harsh House bill when, in fact, it makes deeper cuts in Medicaid. It allows Republicans to get past the next presidential election without people understanding what will hit them. This brazen trickery is particularly shocking in a bill designed to deprive millions of people of health care coverage.

The ugly tactics may be working. According to a recent Kaiser Foundation poll, barely more than one-third of Americans — 36 percent — support rolling back Medicaid expansion or block granting Medicaid — which the Senate bill would do. Only 35 percent approve of the House GOP plan. Only 38 percent of Americans know that the Republicans would make major cuts in Medicaid in the Senate bill.

The Republican plan is indecent and immoral. It will cost lives and jobs. It was hatched in secrecy because it cannot survive the light of day. No senator can vote for this bill with a good conscience.

Will Senate Republicans vote to deprive tens of millions of Americans of health care coverage in order to cut taxes for the very wealthy? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants a vote soon, although President Trump is pressuring senators to back a repeal-only option if Republicans don’t reach agreement during the July Fourth recess.

Push has come to shove.

The heart of the bill is a savage choice: To gut Medicaid — a program that covers one in five Americans — in order to lavish an average annual tax cut of $50,000 for millionaires.