The results of the United States 2016 presidential election were a shock to many around the world. Donald Trump had made no secret of his plans to repeal Obama’s Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare or Medicaid, and in early March the Republican Party finally revealed its new health care plan.
The new Republican bill would reduce the expansion of Medicaid, which has provided coverage to more than 10 million Americans in 31 states, and reduce the federal payments to beneficiaries. The new bill will also remove the requirement for larger employers to offer their full-time employees insurance. Furthermore, the bill aims to undo many of the features in the Affordable Care act that were disfavoured by the wealthy; such as, income-based tax credits that help millions of Americans buy insurance, and the taxes on people with high income. Trump’s new plan will also cut off funding to Planned Parenthood clinics through Medicaid and other government programs for one year.
Although the new bill presents many reforms to Medicaid, it retains three of Medicaid’s most popular features: the prohibition on denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, the ban on lifetime coverage caps, and the rule allowing young people to remain on their parents’ health plans until the age of 26. The new plan also reduces tax credits for individuals with annual incomes over $75,000 and married couples with incomes over $150,000.
Since the release of this new healthcare plan, there has been a loud outcry from critics that believe the new bill will worsen inequality in America. An article released by the Commonwealth Fund states that the American government spends more money on health care than most other first-world nations, yet has one of the lowest average life spans among first world nations. A recent article published in the Lancet estimated the average life expectancies of Americans to be on par with individuals living in Mexico by 2030, and a fair degree lower than the average life expectancies of those living in other developed nations. However, this does not mean that the average lifespan of all individuals across America is low. The average lifespan of women in Fairfax, Va., is 85 years, while the average lifespan of women just 350 miles away in the relatively poorer McDowell County, W.Va. is just 72 years. The reason for such a large discrepancy, many believe, is because of the better health care afforded to the rich. Critics of Trump’s new plan assert that his new bill will only exacerbate these differences in health care.
Doctor Cynthia Haq remembers the surge of patients she saw in Wisconsin hospitals after the Affordable Care Act became available: “Hundreds of patients were streaming into our clinics for the first time, some who hadn’t seen a doctor in 20 years.” Nearly, 200,000 Wisconsin residents gained insurance coverage when Obamacare came into effect, most of whom were individuals making around $29,000 per year. She is one of many physicians that worry Trump’s new plan will result in a decrease in visits from lower income patients.
Although Trump’s new plan will undoubtedly decrease the coverage provided to lower income and older Americans, supporters of the bill insist that this is balanced out by the increase in coverage to upper middle class Americans whose workplaces may have provided only minimal coverage, as well as younger Americans. Trump’s new bill is planned to be put into effect in April of this year. Whether the new bills benefits outweigh its costs can only be seen with time.
Written by: Mikayla Tyra Hall-Bruce
Mikayla is currently in her first year of undergraduate studies at Western University and serves as one of UAEM Western's Events and Empowerment Representatives