Former President Barack Obama blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) healthcare bill on Thursday, saying “it’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.”
“It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions,” he wrote in a Facebook post after McConnell released the draft of the Senate’s bill that is meant to replace his signature Affordable Care Act. “Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.”
Health care has always been about something bigger than politics: it's about the character of our country. https://t.co/UqLO14Hef7
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 22, 2017
Obama admitted that Obamacare was “not perfect” and “if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it.” But he claimed that “the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it.”
“I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “Still, I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.”
Obama conceded that premiums are still rising under Obamacare but touted what he believes are Obamacare’s successes.
“Women can’t be charged more for their insurance, young adults can stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26, contraceptive care and preventive care are now free,” he wrote. “ Paying more, or being denied insurance altogether due to a preexisting condition – we made that a thing of the past.”
Obama then declared that the GOP bill “will do you harm” if “there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family” and “small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.”
I hope our Senators ask themselves – what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their child’s cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings?
To put the American people through that pain – while giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut in return – that’s tough to fathom. But it’s what’s at stake right now. So it remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.
Obama, ever the community organizer, then asks his coalition and Americans to call their Congressmen:
If you’re willing to call your members of Congress. If you are willing to visit their offices. If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family.
Senate Democrats immediately blasted the bill for being “mean” and giving tax breaks to “millionaires.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said “people will die” under the GOP bill and accused Republicans of using “blood money” to give the rich tax cuts.
Republicans, like Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Johnson (R-WI), said they could not support the bill because it did not fully repeal Obamacare. They joined with Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) to say they were not ready to vote for the bill.
President Donald Trump said that the bill needs “a little negotiation” before declaring that “Obamacare is dead.”
McConnell reportedly would like to bring up the bill for a vote before July 4.