GOP health care policies: Don’t get sick

By Bill Kaplan

The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by

The GOP-led Congress reconvenes Tuesday. Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have pledged: “The Obamacare repeal resolution will be the first item up in the new year.” Republicans and Trump will later move to privatize Medicare and veterans’ health care.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been pejoratively called Obamacare by the GOP. It was a thinly disguised attempt to delegitimize and undermine the ACA. The irony is that under the ACA whites were the largest group to gain health care coverage. And, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that folks in “rural (white) Republican-leaning areas (in) Wisconsin counties that voted for Trump” used the ACA at higher rates than counties that voted for Clinton. There’s more.

The ACA has been a huge success with 20 million Americans (hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites) gaining affordable quality health care coverage. All despite a GOP scorched-earth policy, including 60 congressional votes to repeal-weaken the ACA, litigation by Ryan and Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson and a campaign of hysteria and lies. Why?

The GOP and Trump oppose ACA taxes on the rich (incomes over $250,000 for married couples) that helped finance expansion of health care coverage. Moreover, the right can’t stand government being on the side of regular folks. All the smoke and mirrors can’t hide that the GOP and Trump represent corporate plutocrats. What’s next?

There is no GOP replacement plan. Repeal of ACA taxes on the rich and ending other ACA provisions will cause 30 million Americans (431,000 Wisconsinites) to become uninsured (Urban Institute). Gail Wilensky, GOP health economist, said: “It will be hard to have comparable coverage if they (Congress and Trump) start with less money.” A GOP House leadership aide let the truth slip out: “Our goal here is to make sure that everybody can buy coverage or find coverage if they choose to” (New York Times), i.e., blame the uninsured. The GOP plan to repeal ACA and delay replacement means goodbye health care coverage. Don’t get sick.

Republicans and Trump (despite campaign promises) will also move to privatize Medicare. Ryan will seek to transform Medicare into a voucher program, to buy private insurance with expensive out-of-pocket costs. Moreover, the GOP wants to raise the eligibility age for Medicare. A beloved and successful government program will be eviscerated. But that’s not all.

Next on the hit list is veterans’ health care. Generalissimo Newt Gingrich, top advisor to Trump, wants to privatize the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Gingrich said: “It’s got to be a straight-out war” against the VA (Gingrich did not serve in the military). Gingrich, Johnson, Ryan and Trump should listen to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW): “Politicians, pundits and politically-motivated organizations are using the national crisis in access to care at the Department of Veterans Affairs as justification to dismantle and privatize the VA health care system …. The VFW says no!”

Time to fight Republican and Trump don’t get sick health care policies. National Day of Action is January 14.

— Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

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