Editorials

A messy move to kill ACA mandate

From left, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, make statements to reporters as work gets underway on the Senate's version of the GOP tax reform bill.
From left, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, make statements to reporters as work gets underway on the Senate's version of the GOP tax reform bill. AP

The latest maneuver to kill the Affordable Care Act, which President Trump has repeatedly described, inaccurately, as a “disaster,” may be the most deceptive ploy yet by Republicans obsessed with dismantling a singular success of President Obama.

GOP leaders in the U.S. Senate now say that in their tax reform proposals, they’re going to include a repeal of the “individual mandate” in the Affordable Care Act, which penalizes people who do not have health insurance. It’s an important cornerstone of the ACA, and without it, some 13 million Americans would not have health insurance.

But, Republicans say, the absence of that requirement would free up $300 billion that they would apply to tax cuts for the middle class.

Or would they?

President Trump wants more cuts for the wealthy and corporations and for the leavings to go to the middle class. Some Republicans touting the end of the mandate say it’s all about helping middle-class families. But Mitch McConnell, the conservative GOP Senate leader, said he’d like to make sure that corporate tax cuts are made permanent while also lowering taxes for the middle class.

Beware, middle Americans. Republicans have a history of helping the wealthy first, and in the case of their tax reform plans, they’d also be bowing to the biggest Republican political donors, who have apparently been pressuring them to deliver on quiet promises they made to the rich to deliver on tax cuts once Trump was voted in.

And now, the GOP apparently is looking at killing two special-interest birds with one dangerous stone. They’ll cut corporate taxes and those of the rich while killing off the mandate. That second action will have some terrible consequences for the Affordable Care Act. Hospital groups and doctors’ groups note that without the mandate, which helps encourage younger, healthier people to buy insurance, insurers will have larger percentages of patients with illnesses and those of older age who deal with the chronic illnesses that afflict millions of people as they get older.

That could make covering those people, without the balance of some premiums for people who don’t need expensive treatment, a prohibitive formula for some insurance companies, who’d likely bail out of anything associated with the Affordable Care Act.

That’s just fine with President Trump, who made ending “Obamacare” one of the hateful cornerstones of his campaign. He seems to have an obsession with dismantling anything associated with his predecessor’s success, no matter the damage it may do to average working people. And sadly, the president’s hate-filled rhetoric stirs many in his ultra-right-wing base.

And ironically, as Trump continues to attack the ACA and Republicans look at using a budget bill to inflict a potentially fatal wound on it, “Obamacare” is more popular than it has ever been, and more vital. Estimates are some 22 million Americans have used the ACA to get coverage they likely wouldn’t have otherwise, something that has doubtless saved some lives.

What Republicans are doing with their tax bill is deceitful, disingenuous and potentially disastrous for millions of their fellow Americans.

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