Tag Archives: health insurance

They Are Coming for Your Health Insurance

Well, not actually yours. Readers of this blog probably get their health insurance through employers. But millions of other Americans are at risk. I warned about this on March 26 in a post entitled “When You Rest on Your Laurels, You Become a Stationary Target.” Now a major Washington Post story by Robert Costa and Paige Cunningham, who usually get this stuff right, states that “Freedom Caucus leaders near deal on health-care plan.” http://wapo.st/2q5zRlF

It appears that the essence of the deal being negotiated will make it appear that the Affordable Health Care provisions on essential benefits will remain intact, while permitting any state to seek individual waivers to enable them to eliminate those benefits for insured people in that state. Moreover, while insurers would still be required to cover people with preexisting conditions, the insurers would be empowered to charge those people higher premiums.

One of the more telling observations reported in this story is this:

“Top GOP aides said that text of the new bill probably won’t be posted until House Republicans feel confident that they have enough votes to pass the bill.”

You couldn’t make this stuff up. The apparent plan is to negotiate the terms in secret, subject to the inevitable leaks by negotiators who love seeing their names in print, and then bring the bill to the floor for a quickie vote.

In another post, on March 24, I asked the question: “What is the Democratic Alternative to the American Health Care Act?” Still waiting. If the Republicans are successful in this latest maneuver, it will, of course, be up to the Senate, where, one hopes, something resembling a superior alternative will be put up by the Democratic leadership. Otherwise, the Democrats play the role of the Party of No and likely lose the fight.

One final, for now, observation. There should be no mistaking what the Republicans are up to with this new scheme. Turning over the question of benefits coverage to the states and letting the insurers charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions will have several virtually certain effects:

  • Republican-dominated states will rush to screw over consumers by reducing the mandatory benefits coverages (why else are they so anxious to turn this issue over to the states?)
  • In many states, patients with the worst medical problems will be priced out of the insurance market altogether
  • Because of the effects of gerrymandering, the realization of populations in Red states that they have been “had” by the Republican-dominated Congress and their choice of President will have little effect
  • Contributions from insurance companies to Republican politicians supporting this emasculation of the medically-suffering population will reflect the companies’ gratitude

There is, of course, still the possibility that the malodorous negotiations will fail to satisfy the far-right or the “moderates” and no bill will be brought to the floor. But little is being heard from the opposition to these moves. Time will shortly tell. I continue to ask: where is the Democratic alternative?

P.S. It has also been reported that the Republicans like an amendment to their new version of health care insurance that exempts Congressmen and their staffs from being subjected to a state waiver of essential benefits! http://bit.ly/2q3pONP  Nice. Always watching out for the little guy. Makes your heart swell with patriotic pride.

 

Speed Kills – The Republican Rush to Eviscerate the Affordable Care Act

Republicans in Congress are rushing to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. No hearings have been held to receive public inputs. Why not? The Republican managers have now declared that the Congressional Budget Office “scoring” of the replacement bill is unnecessary because the CBO always “gets it wrong so who cares what it says?” That is a total reversal of previous positions taken by Republicans when objecting to federal spending under Democratic administrations. Why?

Republicans claim to care about the welfare of the people and of the country as a whole but after seven years of complaining about the ACA, they now are desperate to prevent public input into the legislation they cobbled together. Why is it always party before country with these people? Why the secrecy and the resistance to thorough and thoughtful analysis and examination of the elements of their alternative? What are they afraid of? Do they not hear the cries across the country from even their political base that =the replacement for the ACA is going to deprive millions of people of their health insurance in exchange for what …  a tax credit? If the replacement bill is so good for everyone and consistent with Trump’s campaign promises, as he routinely claims, why are Republicans afraid to give the legislation full exposure to expert analysis?

It’s not that the Republican bill is completely without redeeming elements. Trump’s desire to allow create a single national marketplace for competition among insurance companies may be sound or at least worth an in-depth examination. If so, why not let that and other elements of the legislation be fully examined on the public record? Is there a gift to the insurance companies hiding in the complex economics of this legislation?

The almost certain answer to all these questions is that the Republicans want this legislation at all costs, regardless of the very high probability, if not certainty, that it will destroy so much of the health care on which many millions rely. Taken as a whole, which is what the Republicans are insisting on, the “replace” legislation is an outrageous attack against many of our most vulnerable citizens while conferring a huge tax break for the very well off. The Republicans claim it’s all about giving people more choice and avoiding government mandates. In other words, the real-world impacts don’t matter as long as the Republican philosophy of “individual choice” is the centerpiece of the new system.

Trump promised his supporters a cheaper health insurance system that would cover all the same people as the ACA, with more choices and at lower costs. This turns out to be just another lie. In fact, the Republican alternative will not cover millions who were covered under the ACA, it will not provide meaningful choices for millions whose new Republican-approved choice will only be “no insurance” and the costs will ultimately be infinite for those with no insurance and thus no access to essential health care services.

Along the way, the Republican alternative will defund Planned Parenthood. Republicans hate PP primarily because they believe it pays for abortions. So they want to take a financial meat ax to it … again in the name of Republican philosophy. Curiously, to put it mildly, it seems not to have occurred to the congressional Republicans that their core philosophy of avoiding government intervention in the lives of Americans is being used to justify telling women what they can and can’t do with their bodies, while Republican-dominated science-denying legislatures around the country obsess over which bathrooms transgender individuals use.

It is a fair conclusion that the Republican approach to health insurance is going to result in denial of critical health care to large numbers of Americans and deaths will result … deaths that could have been avoided. Yes, the Republicans are moving very fast to get rid of Obamacare and in the process are signing death warrants for many vulnerable Americans.