Yesterday the GOP Senate healthcare bill saw the light of day and what could be seen was hideous if one feels any concern for children, the non-wealthy elderly and people with disabilities. When disabled protesters in wheel chairs massed outside the office of GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to protest the bill, as reported by Think Progress and many other news outlets, Capitol police dragged them out of their wheel chairs, handcuffed and arrested. Perhaps such treatment of the disabled is just a glimpse at what many disabled will suffer if the GOP Senate "healthcare reform" bill is enacted. This bill is nothing than a humanitarian disaster to quote several critics. Not surprisingly, the American Hospital Association has been quick to condemn it, recognizing that it would be a catastrophe for many hospitals, especially those in rural areas. As explained below, this is very personal to me. A piece in the New York Times looks at what we now know Republicans seek to inflict on millions of citizens in order to give massive tax breaks to the very wealthy. Here are excerpts:
The bill is aligned with long-held Republican values, advancing states’ rights and paring back growing entitlement programs, while freeing individuals from requirements that they have insurance and emphasizing personal responsibility. Obamacare raised taxes on high earners and the health care industry, and essentially redistributed that income — in the form of health insurance or insurance subsidies — to many of the groups that have fared poorly over the last few decades.
The draft Senate bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would jettison those taxes while reducing federal funding for the care of low-income Americans. The bill’s largest benefits go to the wealthiest Americans, who have the most comfortable health care arrangements, and its biggest losses fall to poorer Americans who rely on government support. The bill preserves many of the structures of Obamacare, but rejects several of its central goals.
Like a House version of the legislation, the bill would fundamentally change the structure of Medicaid, which provides health insurance to 74 million disabled or poor Americans, including nearly 40 percent of all children. Instead of open-ended payments, the federal government would give states a maximum payment for nearly every individual enrolled in the program. The Senate version of the bill would increase that allotment every year by a formula that is expected to grow substantially more slowly than the average increase in medical costs. States would continue to receive extra funding for Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid to more poor adults, but only temporarily. After several years, states wishing to cover that population would be expected to pay a much greater share of the bill, even as they adjust to leaner federal funding for other Medicaid beneficiaries — disabled children, nursing home residents — who are more vulnerable. High-income earners would get substantial tax cuts on payroll and investment income. Subsidies for those low-income Americans who buy their own insurance would decline compared with current law. Low-income Americans who currently buy their own insurance would also lose federal help in paying their deductibles and co-payments.
The bill does offer insurance subsidies to poor Americans who live in states that don’t offer them Medicaid coverage, a group without good insurance options under Obamacare. But the high-deductible plans that would become the norm might continue to leave care out of their financial reach even if they do buy insurance.
Under the bill, states would be able to apply for waivers that would let them eliminate consumer protection regulations, like rules that require all health plans to cover a basic package of benefits or that prevent insurance plans from limiting how much care they will cover in a given year.
States could get rid of the online marketplaces that help consumers compare similar health plans, and make a variety of other changes to the health insurance system. The standards for approval are quite permissive.
Americans with pre-existing conditions would continue to enjoy protection from discrimination: In contrast with the House health bill, insurers would not be allowed to charge higher prices to customers with a history of illness, even in states that wish to loosen insurance regulations.
But patients with serious illnesses may still face skimpier, less useful coverage. States may waive benefit requirements and allow insurers to charge customers more. Someone seriously ill who buys a plan that does not cover prescription drugs, for example, may not find it very valuable.
Subsidies under the bill would help middle-income consumers buy insurance that pays 58 percent of the average patient’s medical costs, down from 70 percent under Obamacare; it would also remove a different type of subsidy designed to lower deductibles further for Americans earning less than around $30,000 a year. Out-of-pocket spending is the top concern of most voters. The insurance they would buy under the bill might seem cheap at first, but it wouldn’t be if they ended up paying more in deductibles.
To me, this displays complete moral depravity - by those who claim to embrace "Christian values" and their supporters like evangelical Christians. A piece in Salon looks at how the GOP got this morally bankrupt. Here are highlights:
In the hellish months since Donald Trump’s inauguration, a dark parlor game of sorts has cropped up in liberal circles that I like to call “Would an Impeachment Even Be Worth It?” With the full acknowledgment that it’s unlikely to happen as long as Republicans are in charge, participants still sip cocktails and ponder out loud the question of whether booting out Trump on his butt would be enough to save our democracy, considering the fact that the Republican slimeball taking his place would invariably sign a bunch of retrograde legislation setting back this country decades.
These discussions break down into two camps: those who think Trump presents a unique threat to our democracy and replacing him with someone in the succession line, like Vice President Mike Pence or House Speaker Paul Ryan, would at least preserve our democratic norms; and those who think the corruption started long before Trump and has spread throughout the Republican Party, rotting it from the inside out.
[M]y view that the Republican Party as a whole is irredeemably antidemocratic has been borne out, yet again, in the process that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has put into motion to destroy the Affordable Health Act, a process that will likely take out the U.S. health care system as we know it. One could even argue that bog-standard Republicans, under the leadership of Ryan and McConnell, represent an bigger threat to our democracy than Trump, possessing as they do more competence and cunning than the TV-addled overgrown toddler in the White House. McConnell has arranged to have the Senate version of the House’s American Health Care Act . . . . written in secret, with no hearings, no public discussion and no real debate. Republicans are barely even pretending the reason is anything other than the obvious: The bill is so terrible that it defies the will of people of all political stripes and sensibilities, whom legislators supposedly were elected to serve. McConnell’s contempt for the processes, much less the defining principles, of democracy couldn’t be more apparent. But he doesn’t really care. No doubt the election of Trump helped confirm the rising sense among Republicans that they can wipe their collective butts with the Constitution, flip the bird at their constituents and not really worry about losing many seats. Republican voters might not like it, but they like liberals, black people and feminists even less, so they will show up and dutifully vote against the Democrats every time. Losing health care access isn’t great, but for conservative voters, admitting that liberals might have a point is a hell from which there is no escape. . . . bedrock conservative voters don’t care about niceties like the rule of law or government by the people. They just want to punish women for having sex and gripe about “Obama phones,” and don’t care if the price paid is the ultimate ruin of this country.
In 1999/2000 one of my children was stricken with bacterial meningitis. We were lucky, had purportedly "excellent healthcare coverage" and my child had a miracle recovery (even if it wiped us out financially). A key part of her survival was being in close proximity - less than 10 minutes - to a first rate hospital that could stabilize my child before a transport to a world class children's hospital. If rural and inner city hospitals close thanks to Trumpcare, people will literally die for lack of close proximity to a hospital. Mere minutes can make a life and death difference.
More recently, one of my grand children was born 2 months early. He ended up staying in the hospital for a month. A month earlier, my daughter had been ordered to do bed rest to try to delay his birth. Since Virginia and the USA do not have mandatory paid maternity leave, my daughter lost her heathcare coverage. Thankfully, she signed up with Medicaid and my grandson had coverage. Without it, he may have died.
Sadly, average Americans simply no longer matter to the GOP, especially those like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. I'm sorry, but to me, voting Republican is now synonymous with moral bankruptcy.