Times are tough for rural America. School consolidation forces their children to travel outside their city to attend classes. Drought is killing crops and with it a season's income or more. Now they must contend with the Republican Congress and President Donald Trump, who have crafted a health care plan that will hurt rural America.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution profiled many rural Georgians who stand to lose if the president signs Trumpcare.
Kenneth Peek, a Georgia farmer, who is now on Obamacare, thought Trump would get things "straightened out." However, he's now understanding things might get worse. Under the proposed law, thousands of rural Georgians, who voted overwhelmingly for Trump, stand to lose their health insurance or their hospitals and, for many, their costs will increase.
Peek currently pays $281 a month for his Obamacare policy, which is $3,372 a year. He gets $11,172 in government tax credits, while his wife is on disability. Under Trumpcare his tax credit would drop 64 percent to $7,172 and there's no real way of knowing how insurance companies will drop premiums or continue the upward climb. While Obamacare gave subsidies based on need, Trumpcare will give tax credits based on age. So, a 50-year-old CEO who makes $850,000 each year would get the same amount as a 50-year-old teacher who makes $35,000 each year.
During the 2016 campaign, however, Trump promised voters "good coverage at much less cost" and "a much better health care plan [for] much less money." This week, Trump was singing a different tune.
“Counties that voted for you – middle class and working class counties – would do far less well under this bill," Fox News host Tucker Carlson told Trump.
“Yeah. Oh, I know that … I know,” Trump said. His reassurance to fearful Americans was to say that the bill was “very preliminary.”
“The way they talked it was supposed to be better,” Peek said.
Still, Peek told AJC that Trump's rural supporters are hopeful. However, many of those believe that health care isn't something Americans are entitled to in the first place.
Blake Yelverton of Ellaville, Georgia doesn't believe people deserve to have government supplied health are. “It’s communism, socialism anyway," he told the AJC.
The 23-year-old revealed, however, that his own health insurance is thanks to Obamacare too. He's still on his parents' plan. When confronted with the information he said that he hadn't been to a doctor in five years.
Joel Veatch, who stocks shelves at the Piggly Wiggly, wants to see Trumpcare focus more on hospitals and the variations in costs. The town has seen two hospitals close over the years. When he priced out doing a stress test he found that one hospital in a city with about 76,000 people quoted him $6,000. Another city with over 200,000 people quoted him $1,600.
“If there’s that much variance in cost, then something’s wrong,” he said.
But under Trumpcare the access and the cost isn't likely to get better. With fewer people with health care, fewer bills will get paid for hospital visits. Those costs get passed on to other customers.
Already, Georgia hospitals give $1.75 billion in free care to uninsured people each year. An estimated 750,000 Georgians could lose their health insurance under Trumpcare, a Georgia State University revealed. The state already has the third-highest rate of uninsured in the country. They also didn't expand Medicaid to ensure coverage for that group of people. Increasing the number of uninsured people to an already strapped hospital system might put more hospitals out of business.
The American Hospital Association has come out against Trumpcare as has The American Medical Association, The American Nurses Association and the AARP.