BREAKING: Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther became the latest Ohio mayor to officially condemn the replacement plan and urge Congress to craft a responsible alternative. Ginther made his comments at a noon news conference.
COLUMBUS—While celebrating the benefits of Obamacare, medical experts warned that the GOP replacement expected to be voted on today would worsen Ohio’s most serious health crises and hurt its most vulnerable citizens.
The experts joined members of Indivisible 12, a pro-Affordable Care Act (ACA) group of activists outside Congressman Pat Tiberi’s office, to celebrate Obamacare’s 7th birthday and urge Tiberi to vote against the replacement.
“Trumpcare is not giving people something better,’’ Steve Wagner, Executive Director of Universal Health Care Network (UHCAN) Ohio, told the news conference. “Most people in Ohio did not ask Congress to kill coverage for 24 million people. They simply want to be able to afford quality care like some of their neighbors. The Trumpcare cuts in Medicaid would hurt healthcare for older adults, children and those with disabilities; shifting costs to states and hurting those with addiction.’’
Dr. William Cotton, a Columbus doctor representing the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the replacement threatens care for children.
“Over 50% of children in Ohio are covered by Medicaid. If coverage decreases, it will drastically impact our children, who are the future of Ohio,’’ Dr. Cotton said. “This is an issue we hoped to discuss with Congressman Tiberi at the Ohio State Medical Association meeting when he spoke this past weekend. He refused to take any questions.’’
Congressman Tiberi has faced increasing criticism for ducking face-to-face meetings with constituents – and now refusing to engage with one of Ohio’s premier medical groups. His silence comes as he is tasked with helping to craft the replacement to the Affordable Care Act. Indivisible members delivered postcards to Tiberi’s office from people who support the ACA. These Tiberi constituents also came equipped with balloons and a birthday cake to honor ACA’s birthday – but tombstone-shaped signs and a coffin that warns of the consequences of its repeal.
Republicans in Congress, led by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), plan to repeal the ACA and replace it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). In its current form, the AHCA would roll back children’s insurance coverage by capping federal funds for Medicaid, ending Medicaid expansion, and restructuring the health care marketplace.
Some of the most dire warnings about AHCA came from Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz, whose office is struggling to handle record numbers of accidental deaths from opioid overdoses. The ACA replacement would do away with coverage for many with addiction and mental health disorders.
“If the replacement passes in its current form, it would have a devastating impact on the millions of people in this country struggling with problematic substance use and would exacerbate the worst drug overdose crisis in U.S. history,’’ Dr. Ortiz said. “People are dying in record numbers today. More of them will die if drug treatment is taken away.’’
On average, eight people die each day in Ohio due to unintentional drug overdose, and Ohio has one of the highest overdose rates in the nation.
Senior citizen activist B.J. Talley also spoke at the news conference and said that while the Republican plan would hurt many, “Nobody would suffer as badly as older Americans who live just above or near the poverty line.’’
She pointed to a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis that showed that under Obamacare, a 64-year-old who earns $26,500 per year in 2026—175 percent of the poverty line—would have to pay $1,700 for insurance, after tax credits. That plan would cover 87 percent of their medical costs, on average.
Under the Republican replacement, that same person would owe a full $14,600 after tax credits for a plan that only covers 65 percent of their medical costs. That person who makes just $26,500 a year would pay more than half of their income for less coverage.
While hurting older Americans, the GOP plan provide, over a 10-year period, $275 billion in tax breaks to the top two percent.
“This plan is unacceptable. It will hurt the least among us. And since Congressman Tiberi is helping to write the replacement plan, he needs to lead the fight to fix it,’’ Talley said.
See video of the event here: