When it comes to healthcare, Donald Trump and the Republicans want two things: They want Rep. Tom Price (R-Georgia) to become the next Secretary of Health and Human Services, and they intend to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
The GOP’s commitment to repealing Obamacare without a replacement could mean long-term damage to the healthcare industry and to the health of millions of Americans, including members of minority groups.
With Price’s second round of hearings underway, the nominee is problematic and raising red flags, only confirming concerns that Republicans care nothing about providing universal healthcare. And they will rip off the public and take their health plans just to spite former President Barack Obama.
Republicans’ only concern is getting paid. And that is precisely what Price has done with the healthcare industry while in Congress. He has traded in stocks in health industry companies while pushing legislation that would benefit those companies. Further, Price underreported his ownership in an Australian drug company.
Moreover, in the past election cycle, Price received $700,000 in contributions from pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, hospitals and physicians. The nominee’s stock investments and donations raises serious ethical issues, and his siding with healthcare corporations raises doubts as to whether he can advocate for the health of the American people. And this is the man that President Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan and the Congressional Republicans want and need to preside over the dismantling of Obamacare.
The Affordable Care Act was not meant to be a panacea. But it was a hallmark achievement of the Obama administration, and the most any president has done to push for healthcare access for all.
The repeal of Obamacare would be costly. According to a report released this month, the damage could amount to as many as 3 million jobs in the healthcare, construction, real estate, finance and insurance sectors, and $1.5 trillion in lost revenue. California stands to lose the most, with 334,000 jobs; followed by Florida, with 181,000; Texas, with 175,000; and New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio each bleeding over 125,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, the ACA has helped millions of uninsured Americans obtain health coverage. And those people who gained health insurance because of Obamacare stand to lose their coverage in the absence of an alternative plan.
According to a report supplied to theGrio from the Council of Economic Advisers last month, while there were 44 million people without health insurance in 2008 before President Obama took office, or 1 in 7 Americans, 20 million people gained health insurance because of Obamacare. Gains were made across all income levels. “The coverage gains since the end of 2013 are the most rapid since the decade following the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, and the uninsured rate is now below 9 percent, the lowest level ever,” the report said.
Meanwhile, according to data provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, because of Obamacare, the number of uninsured African-Americans has been cut in half. Three million African-American adults who were uninsured now have health insurance —including over half a million between the ages of 19 and 26 who are now covered under their parents’ plans. And an additional 1.3 million uninsured African-Americans who qualify for health coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the Obamacare exchange. In addition, thanks to Obamacare, 15 million African-Americans with private health insurance are able to avail themselves of flu shots, cervical cancer screenings and mammograms with a $0 copay or deductible.
Similarly, 4 million Latino adults, and 1 million Asian-American and Pacific Islander adults have been insured because of Obamacare, reducing the uninsured rates of these groups by over a quarter and over half, respectively.
If Obamacare is helping so many people — including millions of poor white Trump supporters who would feel the pain if their man gets his way and cuts off their health insurance — why do the Republicans want to kill it, and potentially millions of Americans, in the process? The answer is simple: They ran on it, built a movement around it, and won an election because of it.
Republicans do not want government to play a positive role in people’s lives. And for years, the GOP Southern Strategy helped them win racially disaffected white voters by associating government programs with civil rights and unfair benefits to people of color gained at the expense of whites. President Obama — and by extension, his most crowning achievement, Obamacare — became a potent symbol of black achievement. And they couldn’t allow the black man to succeed, even if — or rather, because — millions of their constituents would benefit in the process.
Meanwhile, Republicans who are chomping at the bit to gut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are not likely to offer any serious health care options. Take away Obamacare without a replacement, and we will all suffer for it.
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove.