The latest iteration of the American Health Care Act unveiled by Senate Republicans on Thursday is not a healthcare bill but instead a "massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America," former President Barack Obama wrote in a Facebook post this afternoon.
"Our politics are divided. They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen to Americans with whom we disagree, that's what we need to do today," Obama wrote.
Obama said he understands that a repeal of his intensely-debated Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a principal position of the Republican Party, but pleaded that lawmakers "consider their rationale for action."
"We fought for [Obamacare] because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course," Obama said.
He contended that at its core, the ACA was meant to help families burdened by a sick child or a parent lost to cancer, with medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.
"At the same time, I was careful to say again and again that while the Affordable Care Act represented a significant step forward for America, it was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts," Obama wrote. "If Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it."
But, he added, that is not what was unveiled on Thursday. To Obama, what the Republicans debuted was an "enormous" tax cut for the wealthy and drug insurers, comped by cutting healthcare for everyone else.
He warned Americans that the GOP's legislation would increase premiums for those with private insurers and threaten those who may become pregnant, struggling with mental illness or have a pre-existing condition.
"Millions of families will lose coverage entirely," Obama said. "Simply put, if there's a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family—this bill will do you harm."
Should this bill pass and become the law of the land, Obama said that billionaires and corporations would be the biggest winners.
The House version of the legislation would leave 23 million more Americans uninsured in exchange for a $119 billion reduction in the deficit over ten years and nearly $800 billion in tax cuts that would overwhelmingly benefit the rich. The Tax Policy Center estimates a $37,000 average annual tax cut would go to the highest 1% of earners, and the top 0.1% would get a $200,000 tax cut. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities forecasts the tax cuts for the 400 highest-income households entailed in the legislation would exceed the cost of maintaining Medicaid expansion in most states.
"That's tough to fathom. But it's what's at stake right now. So it remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need," Obama said.
He pleaded for Americans to call their members of Congress, visit their offices, speak out, and let them know the ramifications of this bill and what it means for their families.
"After all, this debate has always been about something bigger than politics. It's about the character of our country - who we are, and who we aspire to be. And that's always worth fighting for," Obama said.