Republicans backing a plan to overhaul federal healthcare policy received what seemed to be bad news this week from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
At the same time, House Speaker Paul Ryan says he’s “pretty encouraged” by the report because it will cut more than $300 billion from the deficit.
But how could this complex proposal affect real, everyday people — especially in states like Michigan that voted for President Donald Trump?
By many reports, the people who would be most negatively affected by the change to our healthcare system are working-class and poor Americans in states that supported Trump.
Washington Post reporter Jessica Contrera recently wrote a profile on 35-year-old Keisha Saunders, a nurse practitioner in McDowell County, West Virginia, and her patients, many of whom have access to insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The article is titled, “In a place of need, an unhealthy contradiction: They are poor, sick and voted for Trump. What will happen to them without Obamacare?”
She prays for her patients, that they stay healthy, that they lose weight, that they take their insulin shots the correct way, that the woman with the rotting tooth will follow up on her promise to go to the dentist, that the man whose wife died after saying to him, “Honey, do you think I’m getting better?” will find a way to ease his loneliness.
And what if, in a few months, those patients lose their insurance? She’ll pray about that, too, she says, but first she will explain the sliding fee program, the closet full of sample medications from drug reps, the forms she can submit asking pharmaceutical companies for discounts, the free clinic at the medical school four hours north — all the things she will do to try to get them the care they need, even if they can’t afford it.
Contrera joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to talk about the people she met while writing and researching her story, and what the healthcare debate on Capitol Hill might mean for them.
“I wanted to go to a place that was greatly affected by Obamacare,” she tells Henderson. “It’s quite a poor place, which also means that it’s an unhealthy place… They’re feeling very nervous about not knowing what the plan is going to be and how it will affect their patients.”
Henderson also speaks with Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the Ann Arbor-based Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation about what the effects might be here in Michigan.
“In many ways, Michigan would be even more affected by these changes than many other states,” she says. “We have about 660,000 people right now who have gotten coverage under the Affordable Care Act for Medicaid… and we expect that if this act were to pass that over time just about all of those people would lose that coverage.”
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.