Collins and the 23 Million

by / May. 25, 2017 7am EST

Wednesday afternoon, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its score of the Trumpcare bill. It squeaked through the House of Representatives in early May 217-213.

Local Republican Congressman Chris Collins, a reliable cheerleader for the Trump Administration, voted in favor of the bill. He has refused to meet with constituents to explain and defend his vote, or — more critically — to hear from people who will be palpably harmed by poor, unaffordable health coverage. 

Paired with the massive cuts to Medicaid, Trumpcare would see 23 million Americans lose their health insurance over the course of the next 10 years. More dramatically, 14 million of them would lose their health coverage just next year. Once you get sick and actually use your health coverage, you would end up paying much more for it in the future. 

Because of the “McArthur Amendment”, which was used as bait to lure hard-line ultra-right wing House votes, states have the option to permit discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. In those cases, rates would skyrocket into the realm of hypothesis. Other states would have the ability to opt out of requiring health coverage to include things like prenatal care, mental health, and substance abuse. People would need to buy separate policies to cover these situations and ailments. 

In essence, Trumpcare would result in something arguably worse than the pre-Obamacare status quo. It starkly betrays every promise the Republicans made about making health insurance better, protecting people with pre-existing conditions, and people losing coverage. The text of the bill was available for only 24 hours, and there were only about three hours’ worth of debate, and Democrats were shut out of the process. Once, House Republicans promised to read every bill, and that any bill’s text would be available to read for days in advance. They broke this pledge.

The rationale behind yanking health insurance from 23 million Americans is the cost savings, which will fund a massive tax cut to the superwealthy. While you and your family find themselves paying more for worse insurance, or you are being gouged due to your pre-existing diabetes or cancer, people making millions will have a little more cash in hand to fuel up the Gulfstream. Win-win!

It exchange, Trumpcare would roll back Medicaid expansions in certain states, offer paltry “tax credits” of a couple thousand dollars to ostensibly help people buy health coverage that would cost exponentially more per year. But Trumpcare would harm the elderly poor the most

The new report tends to validate criticism of the House Republican bill by AARP and other advocates for older Americans. “For older people with lower income, net premiums” — after tax credits — “would be much larger than under current law, on average,” the budget office said. As an example, it said, for a typical 64-year-old with an annual income of $26,500, the net premium in 2026 would average about $16,000 a year, compared with $1,700 under the Affordable Care Act.

Imagine paying 62% of your annual income on health coverage when you need it most. 

The 217 Republicans — including Clarence’s Chris Collins — who voted in favor of this Trumpcare disaster did so without first waiting for and reviewing the CBO’s analysis of its effects. This is, itself, wildly irresponsible. That irresponsibility is compounded by the fact that Collins never read the 100-page bill before voting on it, and had absolutely no idea of its effects. Mr. Collins is too busy buying up and puffing pharmaceutical penny stocks while promoting legislation that would directly help that investment. Now, he’s soliciting big-money contributions from DC’s wealthy, who will benefit most directly from the federal theft of people’s health coverage.  

Collins is willing to sell his presence to the highest Beltway bidder, but refuses freely to meet with constituents whom his legislation will harm. What a coward, essentially crossing his fingers and hoping the “R” after his name will be the key to yet another easy victory in 2018. But consider this passage, the day after the House vote on Trumpcare: 

Told by a Buffalo News reporter that the state’s largest loss of federal funds under the bill would be $3 billion annually that goes to the state’s Essential Health Plan, Collins said: “Explain that to me.”

The Essential Plan is an optional program under Obamacare, offered only by New York and Minnesota, that provides low-cost health insurance to low- and middle-income people who don’t qualify for Medicaid. State Health Department figures show that more than 19,000 people in Erie and Niagara counties were on the Essential Plan in January.

Asked by The Buffalo News if he was aware of the bill’s cut in funding to the Essential Plan, Collins said: “No. But it doesn’t surprise me for you to tell me that there were two states in the nation that were taking advantage of some other waiver program and New York was one of the two states.”

Chris Collins has no idea what he’s doing or whom he’s harming, and he refuses to meet with people who might tell him about it. He votes on bills he didn’t read, that weren’t posted long enough for people to review, and which had barely any debate and no minority input. He voted for a bill that will do real harm to people, weakening and fragmenting an industry representing a fifth of the economy. 

But hey, at least Collins hasn’t body-slammed any reporters yet.