Tag: healthcare

Another Healthcare Repeal Attempt

Senate GOP paves way for ObamaCare repeal bill” (Jordain Carney, The Hill)

Watch out for this. But also, don’t misinterpret it. Normally, you wouldn’t expect McConnell to bring a bill to the floor of the Senate unless he thought it could pass. However, with this healthcare-killing bill, because congressional Republicans used the budget reconciliation process to try to sneak it through without needing any Democrat votes, they’re in a jam: they can’t use that same procedural trick on any other bill while it’s still up in the air.

The Republican leadership wants to ram through a tax cut package for billionaires. They can’t do that with this healthcare turd clogging the pipe. McConnell is probably trying to flush it. (Maybe you’ve heard some of them grousing about how they “should have done tax cuts first” and wondered why they couldn’t pursue several legislative agendas simultaneously, like normal people. It’s because they have to use this cheat/exploit since their ideas are unpopular, and it’s strictly one-at-a-time. I’ll leave it to you to write a “camel through the needle’s eye” homily on the subject.)

So basically, worst case but unlikely scenario: this repeal passes. Best case but still bad scenario: it fails which lets them roll up their sleeves and start manfully widening the wealth gap so their pitiful wealthy selves don’t have to give up any comforts to feed the detestible poor. (Those housing-insecure kids should really get jobs. Non-voting losers.)

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Collins-Cassidy Healthcare Bill

Republican senators Susan Collins (Maine) and Bill Cassidy (Louisiana) have been working on an alternate health care bill which does not cut $800 million from Medicaid, and does not prioritize tax cuts over coverage. Their stated goal is to keep Trump’s campaign promises of lower premiums, better care, and coverage for everyone, which is what the American people voted for. As they craft their bill, Collins and Cassidy are holding meetings with Democrats instead of just grousing about Democrats.

I don’t know that it will be a better bill than Obamacare. (You know I want to scrap employer-based healthcare entirely.) However, it’s credible. It’s the kind of approach you take if you are genuinely trying to fix something and help American citizens.

It’s not surprising that Collins and Cassidy would know a thing or two about this subject: Collins used to be the insurance commissioner of Maine, and Cassidy is a physician who founded several nonprofits to get free or low-cost care to low-income Baton Rouge families.

The fact that neither of these people were asked to be part of the main Senate working group on healthcare is shameful. They should be the leaders. It tells me that other bill isn’t about healthcare. Remember this later on, when Mitch McConnell et al are trying to get everyone to kiss the ring. They’ll say it’s a collection of the smartest Republican ideas. Isn’t.


Maria says: Your last paragraph hit the nail on the head. The GOP can’t accomplish the budget they want without gouging the ACA. So you’re right. The current bill isn’t about health care. So it remains to be seen if Collins and Cassidy will even get a GOP an executive audience for their bill. But at least it will be on the record.

Got To Look Out For Our Own

Really good to see all those “keep the refugees out and save those resources so we can help the poor and sick people who are already here” folks mobilizing hard to make sure endangered American citizens receive healthcare and other humanitarian aid like food and safe housing.

Great “band together and protect our own” hustle, everyone!

P.S. The taxes that have been funding expanded medical coverage are mostly on capital gains – on money people make by owning stock, not by doing anything. Stock market is doing just fine despite this 3.8% surcharge – doing historically wonderfully, making stockholders loads of money. Investment has not been constrained. But, sure, we need to protect those investors from the pain of passively accumulating free money that could be slightly more free money if it weren’t for those darned asthmatic kids.

Pre-existing conditions and viral ideas

I keep hammering at denial of pre-existing conditions because it’s a really weird talking point which has come up over and over again as a rallying cry – the healthcare equivalent of “build the wall.” Or the “rampant fraud” everyone keeps seeking but not finding in places like the food stamp program. People are, at this point, emotionally attached to the idea, in a way they can’t fully articulate.

Coverage-deniers are theoretically trying to block cheaters who only pay for insurance when they’re sick and drop it when they get healthy (so they’re guaranteed to always take more out of the pool than they put in). The classic “you always want to share my lunch, but you never share your lunch.” That’s the rationale for walling out or upcharging people who got sick during coverage gaps (but not sick people who switch insurance without a gap).

It sounds rational, but it’s covering up a more irrational fear. If the real fear is cheaters, there are other ways to penalize them – like the individual coverage mandate, which literally makes you pay for not having insurance. There are also mechanisms to make health insurance sticky, like limited enrollment periods (and massive enrollment paperwork) which mean you can’t pick up insurance just the minute you get sick or drop it the minute you get well.

In general, these things are opposed by the same people who think denying pre-existing coverage sounds fair, even though they directly address the “cheater” problem.

I figure there has to be a deeper disgust reaction underneath – maybe disgust of poverty and sickness, and a visceral instinct to bar the door against contagion. (Keep them out of my pool! Even the word pool reminds you of segregated swimming pools, the fear of contamination spread through shared water.) Maybe some of it goes back to the AIDS crisis – the gay plague – and biblical tales of God sending a pestilence to wipe out the enemies of God’s people – although God mainly sent plagues against the Egyptian ruling class, whose modern analogues would have insurance.

This is dream stuff, not logic.

the_ten_commandments_john_derek_plauges

Pre-Existing Conditions and Incentives to Conceal Information

I support single payer, because all the data I’ve seen tells me it’s what works. But that doesn’t mean I have contempt for people who want to find market solutions. Problem is, the recent Republican bill doesn’t remotely do that. And small-government conservatives should be as mad about it as I am. Here’s why. (This essay is by me.)

How Would You Lower Healthcare Costs Through the Free Market?”

Hint: The Republican bill doesn’t do it.

Infant Mortality Rates in the U.S.

I’m sure this fall in infant mortality rates has nothing to do with expanding Medicaid, or making insurers cover contraceptives. Correlation doesn’t prove anything.

Infant Mortality Rates Fall 15 Percent in U.S.” (Maggie Fox, NBC News)

Meanwhile, big thank you to all the doctors, nurses, and epidemiologists who made big important changes to how we approach SIDS prevention. Y’all did good.