Coins and broken piggy bank

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]When the Affordable Healthcare Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010, Democrats were in control of all branches of the federal government, the presidency, the United States Congress and the United States Senate with the majority view that healthcare was a right. Now, with Republicans in control of all three branches of government, the majority view is that healthcare is a privilege.

An entitlement is defined as a government program that guarantees certain benefits to a particular group or segment of the population.  According to statistics reviewed by The Black Voice News, Entitlement Programs of the federal government that include Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment and Welfare Programs, currently make up 61 percent of the federal budget (www.federalsafetynet.com).

Whereas a privilege is a special favor granted by another entity, which with healthcare, could be granted by government such as in Medicaid and/or Medicare; or granted by the private sector where an individual or an employer purchase healthcare from an insurance company that sets the prices and conditions.

On May 4, 2017, under the leadership of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Republicans celebrated the United States Congress’ passage of the American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA) by a vote of 217 to 213, which according to the Congressional Budget Office’s Cost Estimate dated May 24, 2017, would result in “14 million more” people becoming “uninsured” in 2018, “19 million in 2020” and “23 million in 2026” compared to the number of eligible insured under the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA).

A majority of local Congressional Representatives voted against AHCA splitting by party lines with Democratic Congressmen Pete Aguilar, Mark Takano and Raul Ruiz voting against and Republican Congressmen Paul Cook and Ken Calvert voting in favor.

Now that the United States Congress has narrowly passed the AHCA by a simple majority vote, the bill heads to the United States Senate for a vote where it needs 51 out of 100 senators voting in favor before the bill would need to be signed by the President of the United States Donald Trump before becoming law.  Currently there are 52 Republican and 48 Democratic Senators.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator el_width=”10″][vc_column_text css_animation=”bottom-to-top” el_class=”boxContainer”]

Now, with Republicans in control of all three branches of government, the majority view is that healthcare is a privilege.

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator el_width=”10″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]However, 20 million plus Americans have become insured under the ACA, have come to experience and depend on its life-saving benefits and now believe they are entitled to these benefits showing up at offices of their congressional and senate representatives to express their support for the ACA.

Currently, countries with universal health care include Austria, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

In addition to causing 23 million people to lose their healthcare, on May 24, after Congress passed the AHCA, the Congressional Budget Office issued its cost estimate and analysis of the AHCA and indicated it would reduce federal matching aid to Medicaid by $834 billion and replace it with $276 billion in tax credits for those with non-group health insurance. This refers to those not covered by a health insurance plan provided by their employer where the individual applies for coverage.

And according to the report, AHCA will “repeal or delay taxes on high-income people, fees imposed on manufacturers, and excise taxes enacted under the ACA” and modify “various tax preferences for medical care” providing a tax break to high-income Americans and businesses totaling $664 billion—money now used to subsidize healthcare insurance for low-income Americans.  For a copy of the Congressional Budget Office Report on the AHCA, visit www.cbo.gov/publication/52486.

In a May 4, statement, Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell congratulated Ryan and House Republicans on their passage of the AHCA.  McConnell has been openly critical of the ACA and described it as “failed.” He also claimed it has “increased costs” and provided “diminishing choices” for Americans.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator el_width=”10″][vc_column_text css_animation=”bottom-to-top” el_class=”boxContainer”]

“The same mistake is being made in the Senate that was made in the House, no public hearings, the medical profession has no chance to respond…”

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator el_width=”10″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]On May 24, California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris issued a statement opining, “access to quality and affordable health care in America should be a right, not a privilege.” According to Harris, “This bill is nothing short of a disaster,” as it would result in middle class families paying more for healthcare, increase costs for seniors, reduce coverage and discriminate against women, those with pre-existing conditions and seniors.

Harris accused Senate Republicans of working “in secret behind closed doors,” and explained the American people deserve and need a “public debate over health care” where stakeholders “should all have a seat at the table.”

In an interview conducted on the PBS Newshour with Anchor Judy Woodruff, California Senator Dianne Feinstein claimed, “The same mistake is being made in the Senate that was made in the House, no public hearings, the medical profession has no chance to respond, the insurance industry can’t respond, those people that run hospitals can’t respond and the general public can’t respond.”

“It’s unbelievable, this is the first time in my over 20 years in the Senate a big bill, a costly bill, a bill important to every single American citizen has no hearing and goes right onto the floor as some kind of secretive document, I have no idea what’s in the Senate Bill,” Feinstein complained. “It’s not the way business should be done, it creates an atmosphere that makes a bill difficult to pass, not less difficult; and it certainly gets the emotions going—you have 24 million people who are going to be without insurance, it makes no sense to me.”

The Black Voice suggests Readers wishing to influence decision-makers on this important issue:  Write, email or call your United States Congressional Representatives at www.house.gov/representatives/find/ and Senate Representatives at www.senate.gov/senators/contact/ or visit their offices and let them know your opinion on healthcare and ask them to make a record to share with your representative. Create a petition and gather signatures to submit to your federal representatives, call into a talk radio show and express your opinion or share your opinions with your neighbors.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]