Healthcare and the 2017 Budget

This week, as the federal government is crafting their yearly budget, President Trump sent out a few tweets implying that he would not support a congressional budget that had increased spending for the ACA’s health care subsidies unless it included funds for his pet project, a wall along the Mexican-American border.

“ObamaCare is in serious trouble. The Dems need big money to keep it going – otherwise it dies far sooner than anyone would have thought.”

“The Democrats don’t want money from budget going to border wall despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members.”

“Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall.”

What prompted these tweets? Although Republicans have control over both the House and the Senate, they still need the Democrats support in order to pass the congressional budget. In return for their support Democrats are asking for increased health insurance subsidies and that if the budget includes funding for the border wall, then it must include a rule that would make it so than any ACA revisions (such as the Republican healthcare bill earlier this year) would need to continue to include health insurance subsidies for low income people.

Trumps tweets imply that he will not sign on to a congressional budget that has increased subsidies unless it also has funding for his border wall. While I understand that there is always a lot of negotiations when it comes to crafting the federal budget, I find it unconscionable that he would tie helping low income people better be able to afford health insurance to his plan to curb undocumented immigration, a plan that many experts predict will be ineffective in reducing the rate of undocumented immigration.

Before the ACA was passed, a Harvard study found that lack of health insurance led to approximately forty-five thousand deaths annually and that those without health insurance were forty percent higher risk of death than their insured counterparts. Meanwhile, the CDC’s data for 2014 found  that there were  15,809 murders in that year and there is no data to suggest that Americans are more likely to be murdered by undocumented immigrants. Immigrants, either undocumented or documented, are even found to have a lower crime rate than native born Americans in general.

Secondly President Trump’s claims that the ACA was “in serious trouble” and needs “big money to keep it going” are simply not supported by the facts. Though there is debate over how well the ACA is functioning and what improvements might need to be made, there is not evidence that it is on it’s way to failure. This article by the LA Times even showcases the many ways in which the Affordable Care Act has positively impacted health insurance.

I am tired of President Trump’s border wall and his undermining of the American healthcare system. Are there ways in which our system can be improved? of course, but that improvement does not come by blocking subsidies that are meant to help low income families and individuals afford healthcare. It comes by looking at the evidence and seeing what has or hasn’t worked in creating a functioning healthcare system that benefits the most people and then taking those examples and adding them to our own system over time.

Sources and Additional Reading: immigration and drug trafficking.



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