Obamacare was bad! Trumpcare is worse!

ASSEMBLYMAN CHARLES BARRON | 3/16/2017, 11:46 a.m.
The Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, was bad. Although it did ensure millions of Americans, it also left millions ...
Assemblyman Charles Barron

The Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, was bad. Although it did ensure millions of Americans, it also left millions uninsured. Obamacare raised premiums by more than $1,000, people had to pay out of their pockets for high copayments and deductibles and the insurance companies laughed their way to the bank. Obamacare kept health care privatized and in the hands of greedy capitalist insurance companies.

Trumpcare is worse! It cuts taxes for the rich, eliminates health care subsidies for the poor and, especially, hurts seniors. Under Trumpcare, according to the mainly Republican nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, 14 million Americans will lose their health care coverage by 2018. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2026 under Trumpcare, 24 million more Americans will be uninsured, bringing the total to 52 million uninsured Americans. Obamacare will leave 28 million Americans uninsured. Although Trumpcare is worse, both Trumpcare and Obamacare will leave millions of Americans uninsured; cause premiums, copayments and deductibles to rise; and keep health care insurance privatized and in the hands of profiteering greedy capitalistic insurance companies.

Now is the time for Americans to demand federal and state-by-state health care policies that call for a universal single payer health care plan.

Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) has been introducing H.R. 676 in Congress since 2003. H.R. 676 is “the expanded and improved Medicare for All Act.” This bill would establish a privately delivered, publicly financed universal single payer health care system, in which physicians and nonprofit health care providers would be in charge of medical decisions, not insurance companies, according to the bill. This bill would be financed by a modest tax hike on the richest individuals in the country. This tax hike would generate more than $1 trillion in multiple years.

In New York State, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and former State Sen. Bill Perkins introduced bills in the Assembly and Senate that would mirror Congressman Conyers’ bill on the state level and create, if adopted, a single payer health care plan called New York Health. Perkins stated at a news conference, “Health care should be about health, not profit. Your health is your wealth.”

Gottfried, the Assembly’s Health Committee Chairman, said, “Coverage should be driven by needs of patients, not insurance companies and stockholders.”

The bill identifies two revenue sources. One is a modest progressive payroll tax that would increase by percentage for higher salary earning employees. The other is a surcharge on state income tax, on taxable interest dividends and on capital gains. This tax is important because the wealthiest earners in our state get their wealth from interest and dividends and capital gains, not from a salary. The Assembly has passed this bill. It is being held up in the Senate.

It is often said that health care is a right for all, not a privilege for the few who can afford it. Many countries around the world are providing universal public health care plans for their citizens. Some are mixed private and public, and many are fully public.

Here is a partial list of countries that provide their citizens with a universal national health care system: Cuba, the United Kingdom (England), Canada, Brazil, China, Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ghana, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and Chile. Why isn’t America on this list? America is the wealthiest nation on this planet!

In America Congress not only did not adopt a public universal single payer national health care plan but also rejected a public option to be included in the state health care exchanges controlled by the private insurance companies.

Wake up, America! It is time for a radical change in the greedy American capitalist system and the creation of a new humanistic system that prioritizes people over profits and human need over human greed.