As a nurse, I know firsthand that, in many ways, our health care system is already unjust, unfair, and offers worse care to the poor, elderly, people with disabilities, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and women. However, there is no doubt, that the Republican plans will make this situation far, far worse.
First, let’s stop calling it TrumpCare or RyanCare or GOPCare. Call it Don’tCare, because the Republican proposal is an all-out assault on health care. The grotesquely misnamed American Health Care Act (AHCA) is the culmination of a decades-old neoliberal agenda to dismantle Medicaid and Medicare, further privatize our health care system, and transfer wealth from low income folks to the rich.
We need to call this out for what it is: immoral. I don't know how else you could describe policies that profiteer off the most human of experience—illness—and create a health care caste system where whole swaths of our society are deemed unworthy and barred from the medical care they need to function in their daily lives.
Under the AHCA, decreased access to primary, substance abuse, mental, and women's health services will lead to an overall sicker population, while the bill’s huge tax breaks for the wealthy will line the pockets of those whose pockets are already overflowing. As a result of these cuts, the Medicaid patients I see each week right here in Burlington, Vermont will have to make hard choices between things like groceries and medications; or getting an overdue annual physical or needed vaccine versus having gas money or bus fare to get to work; or whether to ignore a small foot wound in the hopes it won’t turn into a full-blown diabetic foot infection necessitating hospitalization.
I didn't become a nurse to work in a system devoid of humanity which forces patients to make these kind of choices. And, if we allow this assault on health care to proceed without massive resistance, it's not only our health delivery system that will be morally bankrupt: it will be our communities, our state, and our country as a whole.
For more details on the costs to our state and on individual Vermonters of the GOP plan, check out these resources:
- VT Digger report on the $200 million price tag for Vermont under the GOP proposal.
- Center for American Progress: State-by-state analysis on the cost consumers pay after premium tax credits plus cost-sharing under the health care repeal bill in 2020 and 2026.
- Congressional Joint Economic Committee: State-level data on the effect of the health care repeal bill on premiums, coverage loss, and uncompensated care to hospitals in 2018. (Released by Democratic members of the committee.)
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