Critics in Morristown warn GOP health plan will hurt working poor, women, seniors

Magda Schaler-Haynes, Jackie Cornell and Gordon MacInnes discuss GOP health reform bill, at Morristown town hall, March 21, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Magda Schaler-Haynes, Jackie Cornell and Gordon MacInnes discuss GOP health reform bill, at Morristown town hall, March 21, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
3

Video playlist: Trumpcare vs. Obamacare critique, March 21, 2017

By Kevin Coughlin

Critics of the Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act warned on Tuesday that thousands of New Jersey residents will lose health coverage, and the state will go broke trying to make up for federal cutbacks to Medicaid.

“There is no possibility that New Jersey can make up for the loss of billions of dollars that we will see over the next few years,” Gordon MacInnes, president of the progressive New Jersey Policy Perspective, said Tuesday during a panel discussion in Morristown.

Magda Schaler-Haynes, Jackie Cornell and Gordon MacInnes discuss GOP health reform bill, at Morristown town hall, March 21, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Magda Schaler-Haynes, Jackie Cornell and Gordon MacInnes discuss GOP health reform bill, at Morristown town hall, March 21, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The House is scheduled on Thursday to vote on the American Health Care Act. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated it would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 24 million by 2026, while slicing $337 billion from the federal deficit.

By 2020, the number of New Jerseyans without health coverage would increase by 23,700 compared to 2015, according to MacInnes.

Low-income residents will avoid medical attention until they are very sick, when they will overwhelm hospital emergency rooms, predicted Jackie Cornell, senior director of regulatory affairs for the New Jersey Hospital Association.

“It creates an emergency room that’s not seeing emergencies,” Cornell said. She was part of a panel assembled by the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, with Alliance Director Analilia Mejia as moderator.

The GOP plan would retain popular elements of the ACA–commonly known as Obamacare–such as ensuring coverage for persons with pre-existing conditions, and extending coverage under parents’ insurance for children up to age 26.

It would do away with the mandate designed to pay for the ACA, a requirement that everyone buy health insurance, so younger, healthier citizens can offset costs for coverage of older, ailing ones.

The ACA’s subsidized coverage would be be replaced by tax credits that vary according to citizens’ age. Seniors’ premiums could cost five times more than a younger person’s, a change that has incurred the wrath of the American Association of Retired Persons.

States no longer could opt into a Medicaid expansion, an ACA feature meant to provide more coverage for low-income people. States could require recipients to work for benefits, while the federal government gradually would shift up to half of Medicaid costs to the states.

That won’t just affect the poor, Cornell said.

Almost 30 percent of births in New Jersey are Medicaid births, and one in three children in the Garden State are in Medicaid by the age of 5, she said. Four-fifths of Medicaid enrollees live with people who work, the working poor, Cornell said.

‘NOT AN ACCIDENT’

The panelists described the ACA as a work in progress, with flaws that need fixing. But its repeal –and imposition of stricter anti-abortion measures–will especially hurt women, and women of color, said Magda Schaler-Haynes, a health care consultant and adjunct professor at Columbia University.

Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty and Analilia Mejia of the NJ Working Families Alliance, March 21, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty and Analilia Mejia of the NJ Working Families Alliance, March 21, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“This will hobble the ability of people to participate in the labor market. I don’t believe that’s an accident,” Schaler-Haynes said.

GOP lawmakers who don’t support the reform bill reportedly were admonished by President Trump, who warned on Tuesday they could lose their seats in next year’s midterms.

In a Monday conference call with constituents, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.) he’s “not sold” on the healthcare reform bill. He did not say how he would vote, though on another issue he said he felt bound to follow the Republican leadership.

The public should keep the heat on lawmakers to oppose the pending bill, Mayor Tim Dougherty said.

“This is not good for our country…It’s not good for minorities, it’s not good for seniors. It’s just not good,” said the Mayor, noting that his mother is a Medicaid patient.

Panelists outnumbered audience members at Tuesday’s hastily organized suppertime event. Technical glitches thwarted live-streaming of the town hall talk.

The New Jersey Working Families Alliance authored Morristown’s paid sick leave ordinance last year.

 

If you’ve read this far… you clearly value your local news. Now we need your help to keep producing the local coverage you depend on! More people are reading Morristown Green than ever. But costs keep rising. Reporting the news takes time, money and hard work. We do it because we, like you, believe an informed citizenry is vital to a healthy community.

So please, CONTRIBUTE to MG or become a monthly SUBSCRIBER. ADVERTISE on Morristown Green. LIKE us on Facebook, FOLLOW us on Twitter, and SIGN UP for our newsletter.

[interactive_copyright_notice float='left']
[icopyright_horizontal_toolbar float='right']

3 COMMENTS

  1. Ezekiel Emanuel, a physician who was one of the Affordable Care Act’s architects, suggested three repairs in a December. He would renew billions in now-lapsed payments to insurance companies to hide premium increases. He would raise penalties on people who don’t purchase insurance—because the current punishment, 3% of AGI, apparently is not high enough. And he would increase subsidies for the exchanges. (Never mind that the subsidies are already higher than originally estimated, despite covering fewer people.) All this amounts to more spending and harsher penalties that are unlikely to change ACA’s trajectory.

    Lets not sacrifice an improvement for perfect. Healthcare costs are already out of control. Progressives arguing anything different thrive on the fact that millions of Americans get their news from the internet and dont read the fine print. ACA costs are on a trajectory to bankrupt us, dont let the US follow how NJ has managed their pension costs.

  2. Do something about this…Deadline is today!
    OPTION 1: Call (1 minute)
    (A) Call your Representative via the Switchboard Operator: (202) 224-3121 or https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

    Script: “I am calling as a constituent of [Representative Name} from [your ZIP code] to ask him/her to vote NO against the “American Health Care Act.”

    Reasons:
    * It will increase costs for seniors.
    * It will increase costs for those with pre-existing conditions.
    * It will cut assistance for lower-income households in obtaining coverage.
    * We pay more for a lot less.

    OPTION 2. TWEET your representative.

    Tweet Script: (copy/paste and insert your ZIP)
    .@ [twitter handle] YOUR constituents in your district will lose coverage from #TrumpCare. Pls vote NO #AHCA, #healthcareReform @Action2getherUS

  3. Too bad this article only covers the progressive side of the debate. What about the increasing premiums and deductibles under Obamacare or the fact that many doctors do not accept it. What about insurance companies abandoning the market? Gordon MacInnes apparently thinks that NJ has saved billions of dollars since Obamacare has been in effect. If true, wouldn’t we have a fully funded pension plan for public employees and significant property tax reform by now? Where have these “billions” gone? Perhaps Obamacare should just be left alone and in a year or two when it collapses under its own weight, the progressives can figure out the replacement plan.

LEAVE A REPLY