By JoAnne Powers
The nation’s largest nurses’ union has condemned the passage of the American Health Care Act by House Republicans as “cruel and unusual punishment” for millions of Americans. Following the vote National Nurses United issued a statement saying the bill to overturn the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, would deprive tens of millions of Americans of their health coverage and threaten millions more with bankruptcy.
NNU spokesperson Charles Idelson:
[Charles Idelson]: “Well, I would call it a train wreck, but a train wreck is more humane than the monstrosity that got passed by the fanatics in the House. One thing that gets understated in the coverage is that it was essentially a cover for a massive hundreds-of-billions-of-dollar giveaway to the wealthiest people in the United States. Anywhere from 600 to 800 billion dollars in tax cuts jammed into that bill, something like 80% of which go to the top one percent in this country. So, they decide to pass a tax cut and cover it by passing this incredibly punitive law that will, at a minimum, take away existing health care coverage for up to 24 million people, and also impose extremely punitive increases and out-of-pocket costs for people with pre-existing conditions. It’s really a disgrace and out-of-touch with the entire rest of the world.”
The union’s many criticisms of the AHCA include the right of insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and the re-creation of “high-risk pools” for these patients. Robert Kraig of Citizen Action of Wisconsin says his own state’s history with high-risk pools is representative of those across the nation:
[Robert Kraig]: “It was very expensive. Quite frankly, it was underfunded. Minnesota and Wisconsin had larger pools, and they were still entirely inadequate. So, it’s a way of saying that people had somewhere to go, but premiums would be, according to most experts, ten-thousand dollars a year on average for high-risk pools, even if they did fund them at a much higher level than they actually put in the bill. High-risk pools across the country had waiting lists, lifetime limits on coverage….”