Welcome to Donald Trump’s new America, which takes a chainsaw to just about everything that would help the poor, sick and elderly and spends the money on a new arsenal for the Pentagon and building a wall for his border war with Mexico.

In short, he’s proposed disastrous changes in people’s lives, including the millions of low- and middle-class voters who were suckered into supporting him. There’s no better way to begin analyzing the devastating impact on the United States than to examine Trump’s health care plan.

Trump promised to repeal Obamacare — the Affordable Care Act — and replace it with a system that would magically cover everyone, lower premiums and end the individual mandate to buy health insurance. What he’s offered is a plan to throw an estimated 24 million people off the insurance rolls over the next decade, outrageously jack up premiums for seniors, gut Medicaid, and give the super-rich a huge tax break.

He’s done this with the help of House Republicans led by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin). The GOP refused to lift a finger to improve the original ACA bill and began demanding its repeal before the ink was dry. House Republicans voted more than 50 times to get rid of Obamacare when they knew that action would be dead on arrival with Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

With absolutely no plan to offer that could turn Trump’s empty campaign promises into reality, Republicans put together a monstrosity of a health care bill and they are trying to jam it down our throats by not holding hearings on it. It doesn’t even sound like they bothered to read it to Trump, who in the initial days after the bill was introduced kept insisting it fulfilled all of his campaign pledges.

But a smug Ryan saw the plan thrown back in his face by many members of his own party who were tired of being screamed at in town hall meetings for the new administration’s blunders. Conservatives were wrong when they claimed the bill was just “Obamacare Lite,” but at this point who cares why it’s being opposed? The only thing that matters is for it to be quickly killed and never resurrected.

Shoddy product

The GOP had more than six years to develop a better plan, and its final product is a shoddy, hastily thrown together mess. They wasted that time lying and moaning about Obamacare so they could use the voter backlash to also take control of the U.S. Senate and White House. Those ill-gotten political gains should be short-lived once the full impact of Trumpcare is fully understood by voters.

But will it be? Who can predict what will happen next after Trump has put American values in freefall while he punishes the most economically vulnerable people in our society and takes aim at minorities? After campaigning for a year and a half calling everything Obama touched a disaster, Trump has shown us what a real one looks like. We’re not only a laughingstock to the rest of the world, we’re much less secure because the president doesn’t have a clue about how to handle foreign affairs diplomatically.

Instead of accusing Obama of wiretapping him without a scintilla of evidence, surrounding himself with fascists and racists who guide his policies, and spending half the night bullying his enemies on Twitter, Trump should dump his plan and give the nation a health care plan that is actually about health care. It doesn’t matter whether or not he helped Ryan concoct this nightmare, Republicans now own it and Trump controls the party.

“We don’t own Obamacare,” said Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, one of the party’s leaders as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. “We are the rescue party. We campaigned to provide relief and help repair the damage.”

It doesn’t count as a rescue if the people who throw out a deflated life jacket are the ones who tossed you overboard. There are problems with the ACA, including a lack of competition and rising insurance rates, but in Wyoming those pitfalls were created by Republicans who refused to start a state-operated healthcare marketplace and rejected hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds.

If Trumpcare is approved and signed into law, Republicans would inflict untold damages on Americans that could be irreparable. Here is a list of only a few things it would bring us, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office:

  • Fourteen million people would lose health insurance coverage in 2018 alone.
  • Currently, insurers can charge older enrollees three times what they charge someone younger. The Republican plan would increase that from 3-to-1 to 5-to-1.
  • A 64-year-old making $26,500 a year would pay about $1,700 in premiums right now. Under the proposed changes, that person would pay $14,600, more than eight times more.
  • Medicaid would be slashed $880 billion during the next decade. Federal spending would be capped and the 19 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid would not be able to do so.

So Wyoming GOP lawmakers were right when they said the federal government can’t be trusted to keep funding Medicaid at current levels. But they can’t brag about that when their party is the one slashing and burning the Medicaid budget.

Losses would be much larger for older and lower-income consumers, who would also lose help with deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. Consumers’ costs would probably increase since the House plan would likely cause individual market premiums to rise. The Kaiser Family Foundation said overall tax credits for current marketplace consumers would be cut by more than half in Wyoming and nine other states.

Trump said the GOP plan would provide all Americans “greater access” to health care. The ACA, he incorrectly claims, gives people health insurance coverage that is essentially worthless because of high premiums and deductibles and increasingly fewer providers willing to sign up to provide insurance through Obamacare.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), who remains a painful thorn in Trump’s side and other parts of his anatomy, retorted on MSNBC that providing greater access to health care is like allowing people greater access to buy a Rolls-Royce. What good is access if the vast majority of people can’t afford it?

Americans should be talking about how Trumpcare must never be allowed to pass, plus myriad other subjects the president is trying to dodge: a disastrous budget proposal that harms low-income people and seniors while hastening environmental damage by removing key protections; the failure to release his tax returns and divest his assets to avoid blatant conflicts of interest; his unconstitutional ban on Muslims entering the country; and critical investigations that need to be made to ascertain whether Trump is loyal to the U.S. or Russia.

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Instead, he’s got the media relentlessly focusing on his baseless claims that he was wiretapped by his predecessor. Trump is a master manipulator and con man who seems incapable of telling the truth. He acts more like a dictator than a president. He’s headed for a fall of epic presidential proportions, and we should all be worried that he will take the entire country down his bizarre and dangerous rabbit hole.

If you want to make it in Trump’s new America, earn a lot of money so your taxes will be cut, stop worrying if you’re drinking clean water and breathing clean air, and don’t grow so old or stay so poor that you become expendable to the government. And whatever you do, don’t get sick.

Kerry Drake

Veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake has covered Wyoming for more than four decades, previously as a reporter and editor for the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle and Casper Star-Tribune. He lives in Cheyenne and...

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  1. Meanwhile all hard-working and thinking younger men and women are wondering why American healthcare is twice as expensive and lower ranked than the rest of the educated world. Trump seems to be the product of both parties dysfunction, when the emotional argument has become more important than the outcome. The not so great generation at it’s finest!

    sadly

  2. Now that the horrible Trumpcare health care bill has died before it got out of the crib I have to confess that as a progressive Democrat I was sort of hoping it would pass because the sorrow and suffering it might have produced would be the only stimulus I could imagine for a. Getting rid of Republicans long enough so that what we really need, b. a health care for all might come to be. WHEN are the eternally duped Wyoming people going to realize that rich folks who live in NY towers and pay hundreds of thousands in dues at Mar al Lago are not really rooting for them?

    .

  3. Mr. Vanderhoff, there are many countries you could move to not based upon capitalism and individuals pursuing their own enlightened self interest. What is Bog medicine? How does a revenue stream from low income people become a stream? Frankenstein health plans are an abomination, I agree with you. The ACA which is unaffordable is just one. I don’t think it advances us to just be opposed to reform ad nauseum. Fake reform is no better. Just so you know, “Bog medicine” is probably on balance quite happy with ACA and doesn’t want to see it replaced. That’s because it increased the net revenue trickle they had been receiving from Medicaid and other cost based programs. And you must know what increased net revenue yields, yep, the dreaded increased profit margins. One phrase you penned that makes sense is “alleged non-profit centers”. They are non-taxed entities but not non profit, that is, if they still exist. I wonder does Wyoming have any investor owned hospitals? If not, perhaps a move is ill-advised.

  4. The GOP is basing Trumpcare on assumptions from the 1950’s, when health care was provided by an employer where you worked full time for thirty years and Mom stayed home polishing her pearl necklace.

    In today’s “gig” economy, many Americans do not have a single employer but work multiple jobs – – all without workplace provided healthcare. The prospect of crushing medical expenses, due to an auto accident, diagnosis of cancer or other expensive health diagnosis, is very real. Our good Wyoming neighbors and fellow Americans are not looking for hand-outs and freebies. People want to take their sick child or spouse or parent to a doctor, and not have a disabling debt that will take years to pay off or, worse, have to file for bankruptcy.

    To the business minded, if someone is using most of their income to pay for medical expenses, do you think they’ll have expendable income to purchase your items? The GOP hiding behind the statement that “we are going to pass what we promised” is mouthing a fool’s motto. Your promises weren’t true, won’t help Americans and don’t need to be implemented. This is a complex topic (thanks to the President for pointing that out..) and needs a comprehensive vision to address our national needs, not a twitter slogan.

    PS Mr. Drake, you got a response from Sen. B’s office that addressed your topic? You have some real fire power. When I contact Senators B or E or Rep. C., I either get a weird form letter written by an impossibly clueless intern or NO response (looking at you, Mike…)

  5. The first vote in Congress on TrumpCare / RyanCare or better titled as RepublicanWeDon’tCare will likely be Thursday , March 22.

    It is important that Wyoming’s alleged lone representative in the House – Mrs. Elizabeth Perry whose stage name is Liz Cheney – hear directly from her alleged Wyoming constituents that Trump-Ryan WeDon’tCare is an abomination and should not be advanced. Kerry Drake is spot on here.

    In their zeal to repeal Obamacare, the GOP has cobbled together a Frankenstein health plan that really isn’t about medical HEALTHcare at all….it’s a WEALTHcare plan to assure that the Big Insurance, Big Pharma, and Bog medicine are assured a full flowing revenue stream from the middle class and theoretically the low income people, while the wealthy get a massive tax break.

    For Profit Medicine ( even at the alleged non-profit care centers) is America’s bane. Contact your Congresswoman and let her hear as much . Today.

    Lizzie is tired of hearing it from me, and oh by the way she or her staff almost never respond back.

    thx