In a post Tuesday on the Health Affairs blog, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius calls the Republican health care plans passed by the House and proposed by the Senate “a very cruel war on the poor.”
The post, co-authored with Ron Pollack, founding executive director of consumer health group Families USA, states, “By far, no demographic group would be hurt more by these legislative proposals than low-income people. They are the bulls-eye!”
Sebelius, a former Kansas governor and insurance commissioner, and Pollack call the Medicaid cuts proposed in the House and Senate bills “the most unconscionable” of the bills’ cuts.
Referring to the caps both bills would impose on the federal share of Medicaid funding, the two say that most states would be unable to make up the shortfall.
“As a result, low-income children, adults and seniors seeking Medicaid coverage would be subjected to waiting lists, coverage reductions, and/or unaffordable costs for premiums, deductibles, and co-pays, which would effectively destroy the health safety-net for the poorest Americans,” Sebelius and Pollack write.
The two conclude: “The bottom line is clear: While both the House and Senate bills provide unneeded tax help for wealthier people, the Republicans’ war on the poor would cause many and very severe casualties on people with greatest needs. Hopefully senators of good will call for an immediate and complete cease fire.”
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Monday said the Senate bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would cause 22 million fewer Americans to have health insurance by 2026 – slightly fewer than the CBO said would lose their insurance under the House bill.
The CBO report said the bill would increase deductibles, price many older people out of the market, cut Medicaid funding over the next decade by $772 billion and destabilize markets.
As secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during most of the Obama administration, Sebelius oversaw the rollout and implementation of Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare.
Sebelius now devotes her time to an outfit she formed called Sebelius Resources LLC. She told KCUR’s “Up to Date” program in March that it’s a vehicle through which she’s working on health and wellness issues in the private sector.
Dan Margolies is KCUR’s health editor. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.