Saturday, December 31, 2016

Snatching Health Care Away From Millions

The perverse part of me takes some measure of delight in watching the media coverage of the many cretins - many of whom are highly religious (see the previous post) - who voted for Donald Trump and Republicans agonizing over the consequences of a repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act.   Many of these individuals, especially GOP loving red states, could literally find themselves losing all health care coverage and being at the mercy of hospital emergency rooms as their sole source of medical treatment - treatment that will not include preventive care or maintenance care.  Adding to the mix is the danger that smaller rural hospitals will be forced into bankruptcy and closing.  And who is to blame for this dire situation?  Trump and GOP voters, of course.  They allowed appeals to racism, xenophobia and bigotry to dupe them into committing what may prove to be a form of suicide.  Do I have sympathy for these folks?  None whatsoever, although I fear for the consequences to children who may lose health care access thanks to the stupidity of their elders.  As a column in the New York Times points out, regardless of the spin efforts of the GOP and Trump, a/k/a Der Fuhrer, these people must be made to realize that they themselves and the GOP/Trump will be responsible if their fears are realized.  Here are column highlights:
If James Comey, the F.B.I. director, hadn’t tipped the scales in the campaign’s final days with that grotesquely misleading letter, right now . . . . the huge gains achieved so far — tens of millions of newly insured Americans and dramatic reductions in the number of people skipping treatment or facing financial hardship because of cost — look as if they’re here to stay.
Or they would be here to stay if the man who squeaked into power thanks to Mr. Comey and Vladimir Putin wasn’t determined to betray his supporters, and snatch away the health care they need.
To appreciate the good news about Obamacare you need to understand where the earlier bad news came from. Premiums on the exchanges, the insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act, did indeed rise sharply this year, because insurers were losing money. But this wasn’t because of a surge in overall medical costs, which have risen much more slowly since the act was passed than they did before. It reflected, instead, the mix of people signing up — fewer healthy, low-cost people than expected, more people with chronic health issues.
The question was whether this was a one-time adjustment or the start of a “death spiral,” . . . And the answer is that it looks like a one-shot affair. Despite higher premiums, enrollments in the exchanges are running ahead of their levels a year ago; no death spiral here.
In other words, Obamacare hit a bump in the road, but appears to be back on track.  But will it be killed anyway?
In a way, Democrats should hope that Republicans follow through on their promises to repeal health reform. After all, they don’t have a replacement, and never will. . . . because they can’t; the logic of broad coverage, especially for those with pre-existing conditions, requires either an Obamacare-like system or single-payer, which Republicans like even less. That won’t change.
As a result, repeal would have devastating effects, with people who voted Trump among the biggest losers. Independent estimates suggest that Republican plans would cause 30 million Americans to lose coverage, with about half the losers coming from the Trump-supporting white working class. At least some of those Trump supporters would probably conclude that they were the victims of a political scam — which they were.
Why do the Republicans hate health reform? Some of the answer is that Obamacare was paid for in part with taxes on the wealthy, who will reap a huge windfall if it’s repealed, even as many middle-income families face tax hikes.
More broadly, Obamacare must die precisely because it’s working, showing that government action really can improve people’s lives — a truth they don’t want anyone to know.
How will Republicans try to contain the political fallout if they go ahead with repeal, and tens of millions lose access to health care? No doubt they’ll try to distract the public — and the all-too-compliant news media — with shiny objects of various kinds.
When the number of uninsured Americans skyrockets on their watch, they’ll claim that it’s not their fault — like everything, it’s the fault of liberal elites.
If, as seems all too likely, a health care debacle is imminent, blame must be placed where it belongs: on Donald Trump and the people who put him over the top.
As for James Comey, I hope that history comes to view him as one of the great villains of 2016 and the ruin of America.   

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