Time to Rename GOP Health Bill #TrumpDontCare

June 28, 2017

By Karen

Because he doesn’t, never has. Donald Trump has no clue what’s in the Senate’s “Better Care Reconciliation Act.” Ditto the House’s “American Health Care Act.” He never read either bill because this is how he reads, according to Reuters

“Conversations with some officials who have briefed Trump and others who are aware of how he absorbs information portray a president with a short attention span.

He likes single-page memos and visual aids like maps, charts, graphs and photos.

National Security Council officials have strategically included Trump’s name in ‘as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he’s mentioned,’ according to one source, who relayed conversations he had with NSC officials.”

But that didn’t stop Trump from hosting a celebration in the Rose Garden after the House bill passed, although it faced certain doom in the Senate.

In naming their bill “Better Care,” I assume Republican senators meant they’re taking better care of millionaires like Trump because they’re reducing his taxes while sticking it to the rest of us by letting health care costs spiral beyond reach for the poor or disabled, children, and older people.

God forbid they should ever focus on the real problem — pharmaceutical companies, medical providers, and insurers charging whatever they want to maximize their profit on sickness and death. To address the root cause of this health care disaster would stop those sweet, sweet lobbyist bribes from flowing into lawmakers’ coffers.

The one thing Trump does know about the existing Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare,” as the GOP likes to disparage it), is that insurers are pulling out of state health insurance exchanges. That’s a fact. But they’re not going bankrupt. They’re just not raking in as much profit as they’d like.

In Trump’s feeble brain, this alone represents “complete disaster” and “melting down,” while he ignores that the law contains provisions people will not give up without a fight, such as no lifetime caps on coverage and not being denied coverage or charged more for pre-existing conditions.

Read how the ACA actually compares to the two Republican bills.

Trump makes his ignorance apparent by never mentioning specifics. During the campaign, he promised “something terrific” that would cover everyone and cost a lot less — without one detail about how he’d do it.

Once in office, he whined that health care is “a lot more complicated” than anybody ever knew. Wrong. Anybody who followed the ACA struggle into existence knew it but TRUMP. Because he didn’t care. It didn’t affect him.

Amazingly, Republicans can’t muster the Senate votes to ram their bill through because a few of them apparently have consciences, so they’re delaying the vote until after the July 4 recess.

Yesterday, Trump ordered, as if they’re his personal serfs, all the Republican senators onto buses to the White House. Spouting nonsense and still showing no idea what he was asking for, Trump just urged them to pass the bill. Watch it here…

http://www.reuters.com/assets/iframe/yovideo?videoId=371976494

The bottom line is #TrumpDontCare about anybody’s health care. He’s exploiting the ignorance of his base on a hot-button issue to cut his own taxes. Then he’ll claim it as a YUGE legislative achievement. It will take some time before the rubes realize Trump betrayed them and they’re worse off than ever.

Democrats, (I’m looking at you, Nancy Pelosi), PLEASE listen to Elizabeth Warren and start pushing for Medicare for All, a single-payer system. It’s the only option left. Channeling premiums now shoveled at health insurers into one government-run system will eliminate most administrative waste. Those savings will pay for actual medical care. A single, strong government entity will have the power to crush the price-gouging of drug companies and medical providers. For-profit health insurance companies will be remembered only as a bad dream we shook off.

It’s a supreme irony that a single-payer system will actually make Trump’s promises of terrific health care for everyone at less cost come true. But I’ll take it anyway.

BONUS: I came across this look at Trump by Carlos Lozada wrote in 2015 after binge-reading eight of Trump’s books. The last line of the piece is particularly revealing about Trump in the White House.


Trump’s Revealing Behavior on Health Care

March 27, 2017

By Karen

Last week’s health care debacle highlighted Donald Trump as the quintessential man-baby. Now I think I know why Ivanka’s got an office in the West Wing. SOMEBODY’S got to change the diapers.

During the campaign, Trump claimed he would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on “Day One.” It would be easy. He had “something terrific” and cheaper in mind to cover everybody, and we’d all be very, very happy.

The fool didn’t realize he was describing the single-payer system Bernie Sanders advocates, also known as HR 676.

So why did Trump’s terrific idea never get mentioned last week? He offered NOTHING but vague, untrue promises, and even proclaimed at one point his amazement at how complicated health care is.

He was useless while Paul Ryan crafted an ACA replacement bill, and the result was disastrous. Had it passed and voters realized how deeply it shafted them, making health insurance drastically more expensive and doing nothing to improve medical care, they’d have descended en masse on Washington with torches and pitchforks, demanding heads.

Trump seemed oblivious to potential voter outrage that would surely sink him, if Russia doesn’t first.

Fortunately, congressional Republicans themselves balked. Some were repulsed by the bill’s inherent cruelty in stripping people of what coverage they now have, but others opposed the bill because it wasn’t backward-thinking and punishing enough.

While not having a clue as to what the bill meant, Trump spent a few days stamping his feet and demanding everyone vote for it because that’s what he wanted. If they didn’t, he’d do something mean to them. That’s his “art” of making deals.

Trump’s ignorance rendered him incapable of negotiating compromise on any point in the bill, and he changed no minds.

When his sheer bullying didn’t work, Trump dodged the humiliation of seeing the bill get crushed by having Ryan pull it before the vote and shelve it indefinitely.

With his now-expected spite, Trump immediately dismissed health care reform, saying he’ll let the ACA “explode.”

So much for his campaign promises to make his supporters’ lives better.

Instead of pouting, he could now try to correct the ACA’s deficiencies. Or, even better, he could roll out “Medicare for All,” the single-payer system he touted as a candidate. It’s already up and running, and redirecting the billions insurance companies now pocket as profit could finance its expansion.

Instead, Trump is letting insurers continue to be leeches, sucking subsidies from the government while charging people too much for high-deductible health insurance that pays for precious little medical care.

Trump’s an overgrown baby, grabbing at whatever shiny toy Steve Bannon dangles before him. Last week it was health care. This week, he’s on a tear to resurrect the coal industry by rolling back water protection and reviving air pollution because he thinks coal mines are neat.

Like any infant who hasn’t learned the concept of consequences, he’s making coal miners’ environment even deadlier while doing nothing to improve access to health care, and he thinks he’s doing them a favor.


Bill Clinton’s 100 Percent Correct on Obamacare

October 6, 2016

By Karen

Bill Clinton’s catching hell for calling a certain aspect of the Affordable Care Act — NOT the whole program, mind you — “the craziest thing in the world.” And this is what he said (quotes taken from CNN)…

“But there is a group of people — mostly small business owners and employees — who make just a little too much money to qualify for Medicaid expansion or for the tax incentives who can’t get affordable health insurance premiums in a lot of places. And the reason is they’re not in big pools,” Clinton said. “So they have no bargaining power.”

“So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world,” Clinton said.

I’m EXACTLY who he’s talking about. I’m a sole proprietor with individual health insurance, and I earn a little too much to qualify for any subsidy from the ACA.

In the past two years, my premium has gone up 52%. I’m still three years short of qualifying for Medicare, so I just dug into savings and paid off my mortgage because I fully expect my health insurance premium to become so crushing, I won’t be able to continue paying both.

Trump, of course, is cherry-picking Clinton’s statements as agreement with Republicans. That’s because Trump doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. All Trump’s said is he’d replace Obamacare with “something terrific.”

But Bill Clinton is spot-on about the ACA’s biggest weakness. I thank him for bringing it into the conversation.

Hillary favors adding a “public option,” but as long as greedy private insurers continue to gorge themselves at this trough, raising premiums AND collecting government subsidies, Americans will continue being screwed while having unaffordable access to healthcare.

The ONLY solution is a single-payer system — Medicare for all — with EVERYONE (including employers if they keep offering coverage to employees) paying into one central, not-for-profit pot. Done right, it would eliminate copays and deductibles. These are the additional costs that become deal-breakers when piled onto already-high premiums.

We’d ALL come out ahead in the long run.


Buh-Bye, Sebelius

April 11, 2014

By Karen

Sometimes wishes do come true. Kathleen Sebelius, who personified ineptness in implementing the Affordable Care Act, is out. Obama actually had the nerve to lament that he’ll miss her “advice.”

And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Sebelius a “forceful, effective, and essential” secretary.

Have they both been in a coma?

It’s regrettable that Sebelius was allowed to resign rather than get the boot to the backside she so richly deserved. But Obama seems eager to forget that on her watch, Healthcare.gov not only ran over budget by hundreds of millions of dollars, but the result was such a pathetic mess that it almost sank the whole initiative, it brought disgrace on the White House, and gave Republicans reason to dance with delight.

But, whatever. Good riddance. She’s gone.

Then Obama immediately taps Sylvia Burwell, his budget person, to replace Sebelius, calling her a “proven manager,” whatever the hell that means.

Burwell’s background shows no indication she’ll have any more ability than Sebelius to deal with what’s looming next for Obamacare — that people are going to find out they’re paying for insurance AND a lot of the medical bills they thought it would cover, and that it’s probably going to cost them a lot more next year.

According to the AP, when she wasn’t a budget bureaucrat, Burwell “served as president of Wal-Mart’s charitable arm and led the global development program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”

She may know something about nonprofits and worldwide health issues, but that doesn’t sound like squat when it comes to outsmarting greedy American insurance companies, which is what the administration has so far failed to do, except for eliminating lifetime caps and pre-existing condition exclusions.

I’d be willing to bet Burwell won’t have a good grasp on how the IT infrastructure that supports Healthcare.gov is supposed to work, either.

Like most CEOs, Obama’s probably thinks the agency’s head honcho doesn’t need to know the nitty-gritty. Like Sebelius, she’ll rely on “people” to handle the details.

Because that worked so well before.

Obama seems to be hanging his hat on the fact Burwell’s unanimous Senate approval for her current job now qualifies her to take on ANY position he cares to toss her in to.

And once again, he shows us he STILL doesn’t get the seriousness of this situation and the lives it has the power to ruin — financially and medically.

The hasty appointing of Burwell to steer us through the looming insurance quagmire Obama’s created reminds me of his feckless selection of big campaign donors to be ambassadors to countries they’ve never visited and know nothing about.

The insurance companies must be thrilled with this development.


ACA’s Unintended Consequence for Individuals

April 7, 2014

By Karen

Remember that Anthem individual health insurance policy I was afraid to give up for Obamacare? Good thing I kept it, because I couldn’t buy anything like it today.

The ACA doesn’t prohibit insurers from selling individual policies year-round, but its coverage requirements are causing insurers to stop selling ANY policies outside the government’s “open enrollment” window, which is closed from March 31 – November 15.

Because they are now prohibited from excluding pre-existing conditions, insurers fear that uninsured people who get sick will buy a policy to pay claims through the crisis, then drop it once they recover.

In essence, if an insurer can’t sell you a policy that won’t pay a penny on whatever you need the policy for, it doesn’t want you as a customer.

You may still be able to find a temporary policy that excludes pre-existing conditions, but under the ACA, you’d still be considered “uninsured” and subject to paying the tax penalty. So you’re screwed on all fronts.

From my perspective as a person self-employed for 12 years, if I were to lose my current insurance for any reason, the only way I could get new coverage would be to throw in the towel and go work for a company that offers health benefits.

And I’m pushing 60 in a job market that’s still tight as a tick (no matter what rosy stats DC spews about “job recovery”), so rotsa ruck with that.

This is yet ANOTHER reason why giving insurance companies an integral role in reforming healthcare was a colossal blunder — and the law has only made their behavior worse.

Now, people who could afford to pay a fortune for individual insurance outside the exchange can’t even buy it.

That’s why Obama’s screwball insurance mandate needs to be replaced by a single-payer system that covers everybody, every day.


Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” Moment

April 2, 2014

By Karen

After how it haunted George W. Bush, you’d think President Obama would be wary of claiming a premature victory, but no. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

In spite of myriad obstacles his breathtakingly incompetent administration created (WHY, after the website debacle, does Kathleen Sebelius still have a job?), 7.1 million Americans managed to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

If nothing else, their patience speaks volumes about the dire state of medical care in this country.

And Obama and Biden are gloating. Watch them, if you haven’t just eaten.

Anecdotal evidence is that, in some states, people are getting much-needed medical care with government-subsidized health insurance, and that’s fantastic. But for those of us in states where Republicans worked overtime to sink this law, and who earn just enough to qualify as middle class, there’s no joy in Mudville.

My premiums have gone up, my deductible is still high, and my coverage is no better, except I think the lifetime cap may be gone. But who cares? If I ever get sick enough to test that, I’ll be half-dead anyway.

It’s a matter of time before the horror stories start — and some already have — from people who discover they’ve been duped. They can’t keep their doctor because their policy’s super-narrow network excludes him.

They can’t get medications they need because the policy excludes them.

And they can’t get leading-edge treatments at the facility that offers them because it’s out of network.

Obama gave insurers 4 years to exploit every loophole to their advantage, and they did.

And it’s only a matter of time before we start reading that insurer profits are breaking all previous records. They’ve just been handed 7.1 million more victims customers and a steady stream of government subsidies.

Watching Obama crow about insurance is stomach-turning. He’s thrown us all under the bus to enrich insurers who were already raking in billions in profit that doesn’t buy a penny’s worth of medical care, and he’s delighted.

I can’t tell you how much I hate siding with Republicans on this, but Obama’s “mission” on healthcare is hardly “accomplished,” and he’s going to find out soon enough — unfortunately, at our, and probably the Democrats’, expense.

Universal healthcare, with its economies of scale, is the ONLY way to ensure that the max of what we invest in healthcare actually buys medical care. The system (it’s called Medicare) is already in place. Just expand it to let the rest of us in. If all the premiums we’re squandering on sustaining insurance companies were channeled into it, it would thrive. Exclusions and network constraints would disappear. Employers could end the expense and hassle of insuring workers. Workers wouldn’t be stuck in jobs they hate because of health insurance.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders agrees that access to medical care should be a right of all Americans, and he’s introduced the American Health Security Act of 2013 to get us there, which the Affordable Care Act never will.

It deserves a serious look.


If You Like Your Worthless Health Insurance, You Can Keep It

March 5, 2014

By Karen

Obama’s doing such a good job himself of walking back the requirements of his Affordable Care Act, Republicans don’t need to waste any more time trying to repeal it.

Now Obama’s letting people continue to keep policies that don’t meet minimum ACA coverage requirements — possibly for as long as 3 more years. Why? To make it appear he wasn’t lying when he stupidly said, “If you like the insurance you have, you can keep it.”

Here’s the problem with that: Those policies are cheap because they were sold to people who either 1) Think they’ll never get sick, or 2) Didn’t understand how little insurance they were buying.

I’m talking about those hapless schmucks we see on the news occasionally after something catastrophic happens to them and they find themselves bankrupted by medical bills because their el cheapo insurance won’t pay their claims.

Insurers make damn sure their policy documents are so voluminous and opaquely worded that the average consumer needs a Ph.D. in insurance jargon and unlimited time and patience to wade through all the conditions and exclusions.

That’s precisely why insurers need to be kicked out of the healthcare equation in favor of a simpler system. But I digress…

Letting people keep garbage health insurance does them no favors. It just keeps shoveling ill-gotten gains into insurers’ pockets. Between high deductibles and copays and avoidance of the “no-cost” preventive care mandated by the ACA, these premiums must be mostly gravy for insurers because little gets paid out in claims.

On a personal note, Anthem showed me a wisp of mercy to keep me out of the exchange on my March renewal, raising my premium from $392 a month to $413.75, a modest 5.5% increase. But since 2011, they’ve raised my premium 66%.

My policy has a $2,250 deductible, but meets ACA requirements (which Anthem has used to justify hitting me with 15% and 20% yearly hikes since the ACA first passed donkey’s years ago).

I haven’t done 2013 taxes yet, so I don’t know if I can qualify for a subsidized policy on Healthcare.gov. But even if I do, I’m afraid to take advantage of any savings and lose the dubious security of my current policy.

At the lengths he’s taking to protect insurer profits at the cost of people getting better access to medical care, Obama seems poised to pull the rug out from under himself and gut the ACA. That means insurers will once again have free rein to continue raping and pillaging the American healthcare system.

I hate the policy I have, but Obama’s made me afraid not to keep it.


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