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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Column: The BCRA is a despicable piece of legislation

The supposed replacement for the ACA is a hodgepodge of slashes to millions of Americans’ health-care coverage.

July 11, 2017

The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.

Matthew Riley is a sophomore journalism major at MU. He is an opinions columnist who writes about politics for The Maneater.

Regardless of your opinion of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, or BCRA, is a despicable, vile piece of legislation with catastrophic implications. A recent Congressional Budget Office report estimates that the BCRA would result in 22 million Americans losing health care by 2026, 15 million within a year. These numbers, while marginally better than estimates regarding the now-infamous House effort (the AHCA), are unacceptable. Why would Republican lawmakers be so eager to kick so many Americans off of health care? The simple answer is the $700 billion in tax cuts over the next decade, 45% of which would go to the top 1 percent. That’s the simple answer, but in this case, it’s safe to defer to Occam's razor.

America does not have single-payer health care. Single-payer health care is a system in which the health insurance of every citizen is provided for by the government of a nation. As the New York Times reported, many congressional Democrats have been shifting to the left on the issue of health care, with some going so far as to endorse a single-payer system. But while the merits of such a policy are plenty, this is not the time to push for single payer.

Republicans control the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the presidency, making the hypothetical passage of a single-payer system just that: hypothetical. Calls for single payer now could muddy the waters of the conversation, switching the narrative away from the BCRA. This isn't the time for principled stands on either side of the political aisle. There's a time and place for a serious discussion about single payer, and that time is not now.

So, if we don't have single payer, that makes every American either a health insurance customer or a potential customer. If we're made to be customers, the adage "the customer is always right" should be adhered to. As reported by The New York Times, not a single state supports the American Health Care Act, essentially an early version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act. An NPR poll found that only 17 percent of Americans support the bill. But Democrats shouldn't take solace, let alone rejoice, in the knowledge that the passing of this egregious act could sully Republican chances in upcoming cycles. When, for example, Republicans in the House passed their repeal-and-replace effort in May, Democratic representatives could be heard singing "Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye" in an effort to taunt their colleagues. This kind of behavior is immature. The potential deaths of thousands of Americans who can't afford health insurance as a result of this bill's passing are not worth victories in future elections.

This bill is truly evil. It wipes away the best parts of the Affordable Care Act, such as guaranteed coverage despite pre-existing conditions, slashes Medicaid funding, drastically raises premiums for the elderly and much, much more. All of this means that more people would be uninsured following this bill’s passing than were uninsured prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Estimates range on how many deaths removing the ACA will cause, but conservative guesses are in the range of 28,000 a year — 28,000 American deaths each year in the name of lower taxes for the richest of the rich. This cannot stand. It’s up to us, the American people, to stop this bill from passing and to hold accountable anyone who votes for it.

Currently, a vote on the bill is delayed. For the sake of not just yourself, but for the hundreds of thousands of lives at stake, find out your senator’s stance on this bill and call them to make sure that they know that you, like so many Americans, don’t want the BCRA.

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