Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) will lead the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) during the 115th Congress. Photo taken during a recent ceremonial swearing-in event for the 115th Congress in Washington, D.C. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)

(NNPA) – Less than a day after the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis of the “American Health Care Act of 2017,” three House Republicans, Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), and Rob Wittman (R-Va.) said that they would vote against the new GOP health bill.

The recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the Republican healthcare bill, caused many to voice concerns about how it would affect their home states and districts. The nonpartisan economic agency concluded that 14 million more Americans would be left without insurance under the GOP’s healthcare plan next year.

The other figures from the CBO’s report that rocked Capitol Hill included:

— 24 million Americans will lose their health coverage—including 14 million in 2018 alone;
— Under the GOP bill, 19 percent of the non-elderly population will be uninsured in 2026, compared to 10 percent in 2026 under current law.
— The bill would have the effect of slashing Medicaid by $880 billion over 10 years.
— The bill gives $600 billion in tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations—including $2.8 billion to the 400 richest families.
— Under the GOP bill, a 64-year-old with an income of $26,500 in the individual market will pay $12,900 more in their premiums each year.

The impact of the above, combined with the repeal of funding Planned Parenthood, would likely impact African Americans in a big way. African Americans continue to have the highest poverty rate of any minority group in the U.S., with 27.4 percent of all Blacks living under the poverty line. High-quality healthcare is typically something many poor Americans simply cannot afford.

In a report on coverage rates under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Lisa Clemans-Cope, a health economist at the Urban Institute, revealed that, “the divide in coverage between Whites and Blacks dropped from a 6.5 percentage-point gap to a 5 percentage-point gap,” according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. Cope added that, “if all states expanded Medicaid coverage [under the ACA], then the divide in coverage between Whites and African-Americans would drop to 2.6 percentage points.”

Even before the CBO report, there was a rift between Republican lawmakers over the proposed bill. The right-wing, Tea Party-infused House Freedom Caucus had already announced that their members would vote against the bill en masse, calling the legislation “Obamacare lite.” Pressure from the left and right has put the House GOP in serious political jeopardy.

“It’s no wonder why they pushed this reckless and irresponsible mess forward in the middle of the night and are in such a huge rush to force this poisonous prescription down the throats of the American people. Their bill would deprive 24 million Americans of their healthcare coverage while handing billionaires a deficit-busting tax break,” said Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) in a statement on the bill on March 14.

In March 13 statement, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) said that the non-partisan CBO confirmed that the Republican healthcare bill would be a disaster for the American people and that it would strip 14 million Americans of their health insurance next year and leave 52 million Americans without health insurance by 2026.

Richmond continued: “The CBO projects that premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs under the Republican healthcare bill will increase, making healthcare unaffordable for tens of millions of Americans.”

President Trump has said that he would not cut Medicare and wants everyone to have health insurance. Even though Trump has a long history of lending his name to almost anything that can be sold, the new Republican healthcare bill hasn’t been one of those products.

During a recent press conference, White House spokesman Sean Spicer reminded everyone that President Trump’s goal was “to cover everyone.” That goal is different than the goal that the Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has stated.

A Gallup poll released on March 14 on the Republican healthcare plan demonstrated that the approval of the bill was only at 39 percent, while the rate of disapproval of those polled was 55 percent, and that was before the CBO report.
By Lauren Victoria Burke
NNPA Newswire Contributor

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), known as the Black Press of America, is the federation of more than 200 Black community newspapers in the United States.