Earlier this week, West Virginia Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin met members of their constituencies to discuss concerns about the new health care legislation the Senate is planning to roll out in the coming months.
Pastor Janice Hill of the First Christian Church in Parkersburg was amongst the group. As a prominent religious leader in her community, Pastor Hill was attending the meeting to represent people who are too poor to afford any insurance, let alone health care.
“I went representing a whole myriad of people.”
But there is one particular person amongst the diverse group Pastor Hill was speaking on behalf of; her own daughter who suffers from a rare type of cancer.
In a heartbreaking exchange with Senator Capito that was caught on video, Pastor Hill says that her daughter “would not be alive today if it wasn’t for the [Affordable Care Act].” The Act, also known as Obamacare, was one of former President Barack Obama’s signature policy achievements.
Under Obamacare tens of millions of Americans were able to access quality health care that would previously have been too expensive for them to afford.
In the video that was posted on social media by Now This News, Pastor Hill told Senator Capito that her daughter’s treatment has so far cost more than $1,200,000.
Pastor Hill showed Senator Capito a picture of her daughter, saying, “these are real people.”
“West Virginia needs you so desperately to stand up against this immoral bill.”
The bill Pastor Hill is referring to is the American Health Care Act, which is the Republican Party’s proposed replacement to Obamacare. One of President Donald Trump’s most important policy talking points during his campaign for office was the desire for Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Unfortunately, the American Health Care Act has been beleaguered from the start, failing to garner enough votes in the House of Representatives during an earlier attempt to pass the legislation.
According to Pastor Hill, Obama’s Affordable Care Act is not perfect, however in her view, it was the best place to start while trying to improve health care access for all Americans.
This woman's daughter with cancer would lose her insurance under Trumpcare – and she just confronted her senator over it pic.twitter.com/epX1Z5vTBS— NowThis (@nowthisnews) June 22, 2017
The proposed replacement bill was recently sent to the Senate where it has been scrutinized and revised by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a team of elite Republican lawmakers. The details of the bill were released last night.
New provisions in the legislation include scrapping the requirement that people must buy insurance from approved Affordable Care Act intermediaries. The penalty tax for not having insurance will also be done away with.
Some of the significant changes to Trump’s potentially legacy-defining legislation include the rolling back of Medicaid, but with a provision that would lessen the initial impact on Americans who are most likely to lose coverage after the bill is passed.
Although low-income earners may not be adversely affected in the short-term, deeper future cuts will hit those Americans the hardest.
Affordable Care Act taxes will also be scrapped, while subsidies are being rearranged. Rather than being determined according to age, income would now be the deciding factor when issuing grants.
States will also be given more leeway to opt out of regulations they did not agree with and would be allowed to remove all funding for Planned Parenthood.
After meeting with Pastor Hill’s group in West Virginia, Senator Joe Manchin held a press conference to stress his concerns about the new Republican health care legislation.
“The House bill will cut $834 billion from Medicaid and will significantly reduce the critical subsidies that almost 30,000 West Virginians count on. It will result in 122,500 West Virginians losing their health care coverage and reduce health care access for thousands more.”
Manchin added that “this is a bad bill for West Virginia, and it was made worse because, in the rush to pass it, House leadership skipped the hard work of writing our laws and put politics ahead of policy.”
A further point of contention for Manchin is the provision that it will provide tax cuts for the wealthy of $661 billion while eliminating health care services “for our country’s most vulnerable.”
In an unprecedented move, former President Barack Obama has reentered the political fray to express his dismay at the Republican Party’s approach to health care.
In a post written on Obama’s official Facebook page, the former president said the American Health Care Act is “not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and low-income families to the richest people in America.”
Obama was careful not to mention Trump in the post that was sent out to his 53 million followers. However, while making a reference to an earlier press statement by Donald Trump where he called the Republican bill “mean,” Obama urged Americans to speak out against the “fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.”
According to the Washington Post, Obama believes that the primary motivation for the Republican Party’s scramble to repeal Obamacare is merely to undo “something that Democrats did.”
Meanwhile, certain Republicans have also criticized the new bill, with Senator Ted Cruz saying that “this current draft doesn’t get the job done. But I believe we can get to yes.”
The Republican chorus supporting Cruz’s comments included Senators Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, and Mike Lee. All four senators agree that they cannot support the bill in its current form.
Elsewhere, Republican Senator Susan Collins has “concerns about some of the provisions.” Collins is opposed to the provision that would defund Planned Parenthood and also does not agree with the long-term cuts to Medicaid.
The gradual cuts to Medicaid – beginning in 2019 – is expected to affect the health care coverage for 74 million Americans adversely.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]