What does the proposed GOP healthcare bill mean for Arkansans?

New GOP healthcare bill facing opposition

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Thursday, the U.S. Senate released its plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Some might benefit from the new senate proposal, but others might not, depending on your circumstances. Arkansas is a state with a high number of people on both Medicare and Medicaid. We are also a state that is mostly rural, with a large number of people relying on rural hospitals for their healthcare.

So what does that mean when it comes to the new GOP health care bill, also known as AHCA? It means a significant number of Arkansans could be negatively impacted, if it passes.

For seven years, Senate Republicans have promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Thursday, they acted on that promise by unveiling the AHCA, a bill that will make deep cuts to Medicaid, end the mandate that requires most Americans have health insurance, and slashes other Obamacare policies.

Protesters held sit ins across the country, including at Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton's Little Rock office. One of them, a mother whose daughter was left quadriplegic after a car accident and relied on Obamacare until she died.

"I understand what people are going through, who have tremendous medical burdens, and no options. What do you do, let your child die? I don't think so,” said Terrie Root, Leader of Indivisible Little Rock.

Senator Cotton, who was part of the 13 member group that worked on developing the bill, has not taken a position on the final draft. His office told us that "the Senator is still reviewing the draft plan released by the Senate yesterday."

Many powerful lobbying groups have publicly opposed the AHCA. The AARP, the American Medical Association, and the American Heart Association voiced their opposition to the House version of the bill. Very little change was made in the Senate Version.

So who wins when it comes to the AHCA? Younger Americans, if they were paying the full rate under the ACA, to compensate for the elderly and sick flooding the marketplace. The healthy, as with the young, they could have access to cheaper insurance. The wealthy, they will see tax cuts if they no longer are covering the cost of the ACA.

Dr. Heather Yates, a political science professor at UCA, said most Arkansans will disproportionately feel negative effects instead.

"Anybody that is 65 years or older that qualifies for Medicare is a vulnerable population. Any family that has dependents with special needs. And preexisting conditions fall in to that category. And anybody who has been living in rural areas receiving care and getting access to urgent care, also vulnerable under this bill,” Yates explained.

Adding it is particularly interesting that neither Senator Cotton, nor Senator Boozman, have publicly backed or opposed the bill, considering the vast impact it will have on Arkansans. As of Friday afternoon, nine GOP senators have opposed, or shown concerns over the bill. Three votes against AHCA will cause it to fail.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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