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Obama Denounces Senate Health Care Bill

| by Jordan Smith

Former President Barack Obama issued a strong denunciation of the Republicans' health care bill presented on June 22 in the Senate.

The bill was the product of lengthy negotiations between Republican senators, following the House's passage of the American Health Care Act on May 4, HuffPost reports.

Obama spoke out in strong terms in a June 22 Facebook post:

...The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. 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. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.

If passed, the bill would overturn one of Obama's main domestic policies, the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.

"Simply put, if there's a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family -- this bill will do you harm," wrote Obama. "And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation."

Obama has little influence on the vote in the Senate, where the Republicans hold a majority. HuffPost suggested the former president's comments were aimed at galvanizing campaign groups to protest against the bill.

Obama continued in his Facebook post:

I hope our Senators ask themselves -- what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their child's cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings.

However, with a 52-46 majority, according to the U.S. Senate, Republicans are not certain to be able to pass the bill, especially since some appear to be less than impressed with the legislation.

Four Republican senators are preparing to reveal their opposition to the legislation, according to a June 22 report in The Guardian, albeit for different reasons than Obama. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said in a statement that the bill does not go far enough.

"The current bill does not repeal Obamacare," Paul's statement read. "It does not keep our promises to the American people. I will oppose it coming to the floor in its current form, but I remain open to negotiations."

Is Obama's criticism justified?
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