Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Health care "reform"

GOP too embarrassed by their bad policy to operate in the public eye


Americans could have no greater example of the degree to which our federal government has descended into oligarchy than the sad spectacle of the so-called “health care reform” effort currently underway in the U.S. Senate.

Just describing the process is enough to question whether we’ve passed through the looking glass and entered an alternative universe where up is down and utter secrecy is what passes for government transparency.

For the past several weeks, a dozen Republican senators, all white and all men, have hunkered behind closed doors to craft a replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act. No one outside that room knows the details of the plan, but it is expected that it will be similar to the disastrous bill already passed by the House, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will add 23 million Americans to the ranks of the uninsured in less than ten years and quickly push premiums for middle-aged Americans into the stratosphere.

What is undeniable is that Republicans do not care about getting the policy details right. If they did, they would conduct their legislative process in the light of day. They would hold committee hearings to bring in the affected stakeholders, like health care providers, patient organizations, health care consultants, insurers, and many others. They would sit down and work through the details with fellow senators, governors, and other elected leaders. That’s how the Affordable Care Act was crafted. It’s how most legislation used to get made in Washington.

But Republicans aren’t doing any of that in this case because there is only one policy detail that really matters to the GOP— and that is producing a bill that will eliminate two taxes on the richest Americans. Those taxes were implemented in 2010 to help pay for premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. Their elimination would save Americans with annual incomes of $1 million or more about $144 billion over the next ten years.

The impact of these tax cuts will be enormous, and will put the cost of health care coverage out of reach for millions of Americans. But that doesn’t matter to Republicans or to President Trump, for whom aiding the wealthy is Job One in Washington.

For the senators currently crafting the Obamacare replacement, it matters little what is in the plan or what its effects will be. It’s all about getting to 50 votes, which will allow Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie in order to pass the bill.

The bill is being crafted in secret because Republicans know it will be incredibly unpopular with the public. The House version of the bill is about as popular with the American people as anthrax. So GOP leaders have devised a plan to bring the bill to the floor for approval the moment they believe they have 50 votes. The bill won’t be vetted or debated in any meaningful way.

And that is precisely the GOP’s strategy. They want members to vote on the bill before anyone understands it, and certainly before the American people get an idea of the scale of disaster that Washington is devising for them.

This is a bill that does not serve the American people, the public interest, or basic human decency. If it did, Republicans would be happy to show it to us.

Instead, this is a bill that exclusively serves the interests of the roughly 500,000 Americans who make $1 million a year or more. In other words, it serves the top 0.1 percent— the oligarchs who increasingly dictate policy out of Washington.

When forced to choose between tens of millions of struggling Americans and the top 0.1 percent, the Republicans make no bones about it. They serve the oligarchs. And they operate behind closed doors because, at the end of the day, they’re still too embarrassed to sell out America in the light of day.


7 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

Short version of GOP House vs GOP Senate repeal & replace ACA bill via Greg Sargent:

1. The House GOP bill gives the wealthy an enormous tax cut, financed (relative to current law) largely by hundreds of billions in cuts to health-care spending on poor people.

2. The Senate GOP bill gives the wealthy an enormous tax cut, financed (relative to current law) largely by hundreds of billions in cuts to health-care spending on poor people.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bonfire, it is just not like the old days, when by now you would have been labeled a Wellstone Wacko. Just sayin ...

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Everything is so political. It would be best if we just said and did keep Obamacare but take the good and improve where needed.

No it wouldn't be politically correct for the Republicans but to get rid of entire bill.

Its ironic if Obama care would not be existants the Republicans would not even attempt to have any health care bill of any kind.

Yes I got to meet Senator Wellstone once and talk on a one on one basis. One honest man, even if your view point may be different.

Oh and he had one strong handshake, probably from his college wrestling days.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Jt, ha! Those folks have a lot more to obsess about than labeling people wackos. Now they need to figure out who is going to take them or their elderly parents in who need long term nursing home care.

Monday, June 26, 2017

There is a lot that many Americans are learning about Medicaid they may not have known before, at least those who are paying attention. Medicaid serves the poor and the middle class.

2/3 of people living in nursing homes are funded by Medicaid, 1.4 million, 20% of all Americans, 40% of poor adults. Many middle class people are living long enough or get physically or mentally disabled enough at an earlier age to spend down all their assets to quality for Medicaid funded nursing home care. Massive cuts to Medicaid would force retirees out of nursing homes and home care for younger people with disabilities to where?

Only 40% of 22 million veterans are enrolled in VHA.

HALF of American births are funded by Medicaid. Where will pregnant mothers go to have their prenatal care and babies? Today the US has some of the worst maternal health and mortality incomes in the developed world and life expectancy for women is going down. Terrifying to think how much worse prenatal care, births and after care would be for families after massive Medicaid cuts.

HALF of care of American children with disabilities are funded by Medicaid. A physician wrote some of his colleagues are calling the House and Senate AHCA bills, The America Hates Children Act. Their bills open the door for annual and lifetime limits on what insurance companies will pay and allowing states to remove pre-existing conditions. About 390,000 children are born premature each year, 5,600 in Minnesota. Medicaid provides basic care for more than 30 million American children, nearly 400,000 in MN and almost half of special needs care, autism, cerebral palsy, etc.

Medicaid largely pays for opioid addictions/epidemics. There's talk that Senate GOP will throw a little more money, a paltry, very inadequate $2 billion to battle the opioid crisis. Opioid overdoses now leading cause of death in under 50 age group.

Only 40% of 22 million veterans are enrolled in VHA. Over 440,000 US veterans would lose Medicaid.

The Senate bill repeals the limitations of ACA Section 1332 waivers in which the states could only seek waivers for state's "innovative" changes if they didn't lead to fewer people insured or higher out-of-pocket expenses. The repeal would also allow states to eliminate essential health benefits including hospitalization, prescription coverage, maternity care, substance abuse and mental health treatment.

The burden of huge funding losses will be devastating to states' budgets with trying to fund schools, highways and many other vital budget items along with healthcare. Healthcare jobs will be lost, patients, clinics and hospitals will be shortchanged especially in rural/small town areas which is where we live. Healthcare is 1/5 of the US economy.

We all will be paying for the huge tax cuts for the very wealthy. So much for conservatives worrying about deficits, not a peep about that from them now. There is another tax cut in the repeal. The biggest tax cut for the rich is retroactive, a repeal of a 3.8% surcharge on capital gains and dividends for those with household income of $250,000, a free handout for wealthy who already had sold securities or collected dividends since Jan 1. Even Wall Street was shocked. 90% of the retro tax cut goes to the top 1% with income of $699,000 or more, avg tax benefit of $25,000. Almost 2/3 goes to top 0.1% with income over $3.8 million, avg $165,000 benefit.

The 13 male senators have concocted this atrocity in secret allowing little or no input from health care advocacy groups such as American Heart Association, March of Dimes, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society and more though I did read that they have been meeting with health insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

This is insanity and a recipe for turning US into a 3rd world country which I don't think is hyperbole. 99% of us will be much worse off physically, economically and a lot more people will die and die sooner as a result. A lawyer remarked that this bill will be good for his bankruptcy practice. It's vile, immoral, corrupt to shovel money (robbing from us) into the pockets of the least needy families in the country. It show the unconcern and utter contempt they have for the 99% of us and our country.

Monday, June 26, 2017
Shaking my head

Rather similar to how the democrats concocted obamacare, behind closed doors. Most of them had never even read it. At 60 something I certainly do not need to be insured for maternity care, but I have it, we all do. Free birth control? For entertainment? Why shouldn't there be a co-pay as there is for all medically necessary drugs? To get votes, that's why. Pandering to the very human vice of greed, something for nothing. I don't like the republican plan either. The 'leaders' need to get their heads out of their butts and come up with a reasonable solution. Competition for insurance WILL bring costs down. Being able to buy across state lines would help, and choosing a catastrophic policy should also be an option. Obamacare took choice away. The toughest part of repealing the huge failure of Obamacare is how angry folks get when you take their unearned entitlements away.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The GOP had 7 years to come up with a replace health care bill but did nothing. They never had any intention of replacing ACA, let alone fixing ACA problems. They don't want any entitlements including SS and Medicare going to regular Americans, earned benefits or otherwise that can be funneled upward in massive tax cuts. This should be painfully obvious by now. Even if McConnell's Senate and the House phony healthcare bills are in trouble, they will not stop trying to drown entitlements for regular folks in the bathtub.

House tax bill just coming out slashes $5.4 Trillion over coming decade.

$500 billion from Medicare

$1.5 Trillion from Medicaid and ACA

Enormous cuts to federal employee pensions, food stamps and tax credits for working low income Americans.

Anyone on Medicare better get those hip replacements or other procedures done pronto. If you're not on Medicare or almost there, you may be out of luck.

Are we having fun yet?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017