The poor would be crushed by GOP health plan, but they're not alone

Empty hospital emergency room. (Stock photo by  DreamPictures/Getty Images)
Empty hospital emergency room.

One of the core cruelties to the Republican health care plan is the burdens it would impose on low-income families. As many have noted many times in recent days, at the heart of the GOP legislation is the belief that the poor should pay more for worse coverage in order to finance tax breaks that would disproportionately benefit the wealthy.

For those concerned with economic and social justice, such circumstances are obviously obscene. It's also true, however, that few groups in America have less political capital than the poor.

For health care advocates, trying to find the most compelling arguments to sway Republican lawmakers, pointing to the impact on the low-income communities may not do the trick. Many on the right, after all, agree with Ben Carson's recent assessment that poverty is really just "a state of mind."

So what's more persuasive? Maybe by focusing on the impact on nursing homes?

Under federal law, state Medicaid programs are required to cover nursing home care. But state officials decide how much to pay facilities, and states under budgetary pressure could decrease the amount they are willing to pay or restrict eligibility for coverage."The states are going to make it harder to qualify medically for needing nursing home care," predicted Toby S. Edelman, a senior policy attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy.

Or how about the impact on hospitals?

"There has never been a rollback of basic services to Americans like this ever in U.S. history," said Bruce Siegel, president of America's Essential Hospitals, a coalition of about 300 hospitals that treat a large share of low-income patients. "Let's not mince words. This bill will close hospitals. It will hammer rural hospitals, it will close nursing homes. It will lead to disabled children not getting services.... People will die."

Or maybe the crises that would likely arise throughout the system?

Congressional Republicans, who for years blasted the Affordable Care Act for disrupting Americans' healthcare, are now pushing changes that threaten to not only strip health coverage from millions, but also upend insurance markets, cripple state budgets and drive medical clinics and hospitals to the breaking point. [...]"These reductions are going to wreak havoc," warned Tom Priselac, chief executive of Cedars Sinai Health System in Los Angeles, one of the country's leading medical centers. "It will be a tragic step backward not just for the people most affected, but for the country as a whole."

Let's also not forget that the Republican proposal would gut consumer protections that currently exist under the Affordable Care Act, including safeguards that benefit Americans at every income level, such as guaranteed essential health benefits and bans on annual and lifetime caps.

The poor would be crushed by GOP health plan, but they're not the only ones.