News & Politics

Paul Krugman: Under Trumpcare, Millions Will Lose Coverage, Many Will Die—and the GOP Will Try to Blame It on Liberals

A moral disaster.

Photo Credit: YouTube/Bloomberg

"Every word," Paul Krugman writes in Monday's column, of the disastrous American Healthcare Act, "is a lie, including 'a,' 'and' and 'the'." 

Sure, politicians aren't exactly revered for their truth-telling abilities, and Congress has passed cruel and unjust laws, even lied about exactly how cruel and unjust, but rarely has there been a law like Trumpcare, which Krugman calls "a miserably designed law, full of unintended consequences... a moral disaster, snatching health care from tens of millions mainly to give the very wealthy a near-trillion-dollar tax cut."

Instead of spending the last seven years coming up with a credible replacement for Obamacare, Republicans used that time to craft a series of lies. They claimed Obamacare was rushed through without debate (there were multiple committee hearings, markups and a CBO score, all of which the AHCA was missing). They claimed "Deductibles were too high...so were premiums. They promised to bring these costs down, to provide, as Donald Trump insisted he would, coverage that was 'much less expensive and much better.'"

They also promised to keep the parts of the law everyone liked (conveniently without admitting that these provisions were due to Obamacare in the first place): no one would lose Medicaid or be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. 

In a feat of doublespeak not even Orwell could have seen coming, Krugman reveals the opposite of all of those points is true: 

Deductibles will rise, not fall, as insurers are set free to offer lower-quality coverage. Premiums may fall for a handful of young, healthy, affluent people, but will rise and in many cases soar for those who are older (because age spreads will rise), sicker (because protection against discrimination based on medical history will be taken away), and poorer (because subsidies will go down).

And about those pre-existing conditions? Let's hope you've never had so much as a cold, because for many Americans, coverage will either be unavailable entirely or so prohibitively expensive, it might as well not exist. Despite Trump's frequent campaign promises, Medicaid too will be cut. But who cares about the working poor when there are tax cuts for the rich to be had?

After all, as Krugman reminds us, "according to independent estimates of an earlier version of Trumpcare — people with incomes over $1 million would save an average of more than $50,000 a year." We must never lose sight of the fact that "there is a powerful faction within the G.O.P. for whom cutting taxes on the rich is more or less the only thing that matters."

Perhaps the worst part of this whole charade is that the people who trusted Trump the most, the white working class that the mainstream media fetishizes, are the ones who stand to lose the most. And when it goes wrong, when the base loses its benefits and people can't go to the doctor and are in danger of dying, the GOP will find a way to blame it on liberals. 

Krugman leaves us with a warning, one that those who think this will be an easy win for 2018 would do well to heed: "What just happened on health care shouldn’t be treated as just another case of cynical political deal making. This was a Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength moment. And it may be the shape of things to come."

Read the full column

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.

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