Janine Jackson: “Far from seamless” was how the Washington Post described the debut of House Republicans’ much vaunted — by them — replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Like others, this story was about how right-wing Republicans might present hurdles to the plan’s passage, because it’s too much like the dreaded Obamacare, and how they might be appeased.
So much coverage of healthcare is set in terms of the political process — who presents obstacles, what groups are being whistled to — that the specifics, the reality of how changes in policy could affect actual people, can sometimes get lost. And healthcare could hardly be a worse place for that to happen.
Here to help us see some of what’s going on with this GOP bill is Nancy Altman. She’s co-director of Social Security Works and co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security coalition and campaign. She joins us now by phone from Maryland. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Nancy Altman.
Nancy Altman: Thank you so much for having me.
It seems that in the media Medicare and Medicaid are mostly mentioned as a kind of in-one-breath tag-on to Social Security, when a story is giving a thumbnail of so-called “entitlements”; these programs are rarely center stage. I wonder if you could tell us about how this Republican plan, from what we know of it, would affect Medicare and Medicaid, and, along the way, remind us of what those programs do?
The so-called Trumpcare, this new healthcare plan that the Republicans have just rolled out, is very destructive to both Medicare and Medicaid. The Republicans ran against the Affordable Care Act, the so-called Obamacare, but no one ran against Medicare and Medicaid, because the programs work very well and they’re very popular.
Both programs were enacted in 1965. The idea behind Medicare — it’s a part of Social Security — is that you cannot really be economically secure if you’re one illness away from bankruptcy. So Medicare provides basic health insurance for those 65 and over who are receiving…