John Oliver dedicated much of Sunday's episode of Last Week Tonight to discussing the American Health Care Act (AHCA). On his show, Oliver asserted that the Obamacare replacement plan will hurt average Americans, causing millions to lose insurance, and, ironically, vastly benefit the wealthy. Oliver also suggested that the Act has little support from Democrats or Republicans.
Oliver began the AHCA segment by reveling the seemingly utter lack of support the Act seems to have among politicians or civil society organizations. For example, Oliver asserted that many conservative and liberal news pundits characterized the AHCA as "dead on arrival;" he also delineated several prominent organizations, including the American Association of Retired People (AARP) and the American Medical Association, which came out against the bill. Indeed, Oliver insisted that across the political spectrum, many people seemingly view the AHCA as a far worse alternative to Obamacare.
However, Oliver went on to say that because there still certainly exists a chance that the AHCA could pass, it is important to explain the contents of the bill in order to foster a better understanding of the healthcare policies it entails. Oliver first explained that the AHCA implements "flat" healthcare tax credits based on age instead of income, the latter of which was used by Obamacare.
In a striking example using data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, Oliver demonstrated that under the new flat tax credit system, an individual living in Oklahoma making $50,000 per year will receive $9,350 less per year in healthcare tax credits under the AHCA than under Obamacare. Thus, Oliver asserted that the AHCA will end up causing everyday Americans, particularly those with lower incomes, to spend much more money on healthcare.
Oliver then proceeded to take Republicans to task for another particularly egregious component of the AHCA: the massive cuts to Medicaid, the program which helps subsidize medical costs for the poor and disabled. Over the next 10 years, the AHCA proposes "defederalizing" Medicaid and placing ownership of the program with states. According to Oliver, this would result in cuts of $370 billion federal dollars to the program, leaving states to make up the difference, which is unlikely.
Thus, Oliver revealed that between massive cuts to Medicaid, which could cause "millions of the poorest Americans to lose insurance" and the abysmal lower tax credits, under the AHCA between 6 and 15 million Americans could lose health insurance, particularly those with lower incomes.
On the flip side, Oliver revealed that the AHCA actually massively benefits the wealthy, offering them extensive tax cuts. On his show, Oliver played a clip from CNN revealing that Americans in the top 1% of the income bracket will receive an average of $33,000 in tax cuts from the AHCA and the ultra-wealthy in the top 0.1% of the income bracket will receive an average of $197,000 in tax cuts. Indeed, Oliver essentially characterized the AHCA as a plan that focuses on "taking money from the poor and giving it to the very rich," something with which he indicated that even some conservative pundits, like Tucker Carlson, agree.
Oliver wrapped up his segment by revealing that President Donald Trump has seemingly largely been absent from discussions around the AHCA. Oliver indicated that this is likely because the plan contains few, if any, of the healthcare promises to which Trump committed during his campaign. These promises included insurance plan price transparency, plan competition across state lines, and quality, more affordable coverage for all Americans.
Oliver concluded by revealing that he does not think that the detrimental impacts of the AHCA are well-understood, particularly by the President. As a result, Oliver plans to pay to air an "infomercial" of sorts during one of the President's reportedly favorite television news shows, Fox and Friends. This informercial will feature an elderly cowboy explaining how the AHCA could cost him much more money and effectively diminish his support for the President.
Overall, Oliver's segment on the American Healthcare Act brought to light many of the problems with the plan, particularly in regards to how it will seemingly only serve to significantly increase the healthcare disparity between low- and high-income Americans. Let's hope that the President pays attention to Oliver's "educational informercial" and fully realizes the extent of the negative ramifications the AHCA will have for everyday Americans.
Images: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver/HBO