Former Vice President Joe Biden has blasted the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Republican proposal to repeal and replace the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act. In Biden's view, the proposed legislation would undermine a fundamental right to health insurance.
On July 17, Biden asserted in an editorial that the ACA gave Americans peace of mind that they would not be bankrupted by medical costs and that it had effectively cemented health care as a "right for all and not the privilege for the few."
The former vice president then accused Republican lawmakers of attempting to retract what he views as a fundamental right.
"Their bill tries to deal with opioid addiction on the cheap, eviscerates the ACA's Medicaid expansion and guts the ACA's promise that care like maternity and mental health and substance-use disorder services must be part of any viable health coverage system," Biden wrote in The Washington Post. "They want to drag us back to a time -- not all that long ago -- when Americans could be denied basic health care because they were unable to afford it."
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Biden said the provisions of the BCRA were "enough to make your blood boil."
The Senate Majority Leader, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, had updated the BCRA to include up to $45 billion in federal funding to help states curb the opioid epidemic, according to The New York Times.
In Biden's view, this would be wholly insufficient.
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"Experts say we need closer to $183 billion over 10 years to provide those on Medicaid with treatment for addiction and to provide care for other illnesses that often affect those addicted to opioids," Biden continued. "Americans in communities affected by this epidemic understand firsthand that the status quo is grossly inadequate."
The updated BCRA would also allow insurance companies to offer cheap health care plans that would not provide the essential benefits mandated by the ACA so long as they also offered plans that meets those standards.
"And you don’t need a Ph.D. in economics to guess what would happen next: Healthier, younger people would flock to the less expensive, unregulated market," Biden wrote. "Those remaining in the regulated market will be older and sicker, and their premiums would increase to the point that they could be left with an option for insurance that exists on paper, but not in practice."
The former vice president concluded "If Republican leadership wants to improve the ACA, let’s first come to an agreement that everyone should have health coverage."
On June 22, former President Barack Obama also weighed in on the BCRA. Defending his signature domestic legislation, Obama asserted that the GOP replacement would harm low-income Americans and the middle class while solely benefiting the wealthy.
"The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill," Obama wrote on his Facebook page. "It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else."
McConnell needs 50 of the 52 GOP lawmakers in the Senate to vote in favor of the BCRA in order for the bill to pass. The legislation is currently in limbo after Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona underwent an emergency surgery, Business Insider reports.
On the same day that Biden blasted the bill, a Washington Post-ABC News survey found that 50 percent of national adults favored the ACA over the BCRA, while 24 percent preferred the GOP replacement.
The poll also found that 63 percent of respondents believed that the federal government should prioritize providing coverage for low-income Americans with health care, while 27 percent believed that cutting taxes was more important and 8 percent viewed both priorities as equally important.