The Good and the Bad

Really, is this the health care the PEOPLE wanted? or the one the insurance companies, the rich, the healthy who believe those who aren’t are at fault wanted…yeah, I think this is their health care.

The act helps you buy insurance, but there’s a catch, you might not be able to get the insurance you need, no matter how much you pay (and you will definitely pay).

What may no longer be covered for you:

States can get waivers to allow insurers to provide skimpy or, worse, not even provide a plan that covers any or all of the following: Outpatient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse issues, prescription drugs, daily functioning skills (like rehab services), lab services (think standard blood work here, for diabetes, cholesterol, etc.), preventive and wellness services, chronic disease services and pediatric care.

That covers just about all health care, doesn’t it?

Also, older people can be charged 5x more under this bill. The old bill made considering illegal. So look forward to deciding if Grandma or Grandpa ‘really’ need that surgery, or procedure or chemo. This isn’t leftist rhetoric, the CBOE actually states we will save $3 billion on Social Security if this bill is passed as is because (wait for it) people will die sooner.

Also, Medicaid funding is curbed and expanded Medicaid will end in 2020. If you’re wondering how Medicaid helps people beyond medical care, check out Alice Wong’s story.

Pre-existing conditions (remember the last minute amendment) are no more protected than they were before. All that changed is they added about 2.6% more funding to the pool, there was $130 billion in it, now there is $138 billion in it. That was all they needed to give Republicans opposed to this bill an excuse to pass it. I don’t mention Democrats here, because not one Democrat voted for this bill, and many Republicans opposed it too. The big spiel about how they protected pre-existing conditions is simply untrue. It was a funding drop in the bucket to provide for bullet-point media coverage; something we get enough of from both parties.

Remember how much we were angered about the penalty for not carrying insurance – the TAX? Well now, if you have a lapse for any reason, insurance companies MUST charge a 30% premium penalty. So go ahead and evoke your option to carry or not carry insurance. But when you decide you finally need it, you’ll have to pay the 30% premium – not to the government, but to already profit-heavy insurance companies who will inevitably work to not cover your pre-existing conditions and will work to deny you coverage for conditions you find out you have along the way. What is odd here is Congress made the premium hike a requirement (where is the competition in that???). But the good news for insurance companies is they can shrug and say the extra profit-margin is not their fault, they didn’t want to charge you the premium, Congress made them do it.

Here’s the good news – if you’re rich, you get a tax cut. Wait, no scratch that. If you’re really, really, really rich, you get a tax cut. Like if you’re in the top 1% you get a tax cut. The top 1% will get a $330 billion tax cut by taking a portion of the $839* billion from those on Medicaid who will lose coverage. You just made money of disabled and indigent people – isn’t America awesome?

*The CBOE reduced this estimate from $880 billion to $839 billion (see “State Variation in Medicaid Per Enrollee Spending for Seniors and People with Disabilities“, by MaryBeth Musumeci and Katherine Young, Kaiser Family Foundation, May 01, 2017).

Here’s the truth. Insurance companies ruined the ACA effort, and they ruined this effort. It’s not the parties stupid – it’s the money. In this case, insurance lobby money. The swamp is still a swamp, and nothing has changed in that regard. So that promise hasn’t happened.

Neither has the promise to repeal the ACA. The House is only half the battle, and the Senate has already said this bill is bad for Americans and their health – they simply won’t pass it. That is good news for Americans. If our President will clean out the swamp, maybe we get a health care bill passed that benefits Americans, even sick Americans who need it most.

Instead, what we got was a President who thinks he repealed the ACA. He had a big party to talk about how he did it and how great this bill is – don’t believe the propaganda. We have a President who needed a win, and Republicans who gave it to him…likely knowing this piece of legislation will never make it through the Senate as is.

The Senators on the receiving end are not happy. Essentially they have to ‘fix’ what the House handed them, and it appears they are more than willing to take their time doing it – something the House had no desire to do. They weren’t interested in drafting a workable health care bill – they wanted to give their party’s President a ‘win’, I mean a sort-of ‘win’, well, it’s just not really a ‘win’ at all.

When only 17% of the American public even like the bill, it’s hard to call that a ‘win’. As President Trump’s approval rating continues to drop, (USA Today thinks it is at about 37%, but it hard to judge when it comes to this President – he defies the polls), even at 37%, Trump is still more than twice as popular as the AHCA bill the House passed.

Whatever your politics, it’s a sad statement when the House hangs their hat on a bill which is significantly less popular than the sitting President, and then throws the President a party to celebrate their great deed. It’s actually kind of surreal, bizarre, maybe even disturbing.

So for those who are Trump bashers, you might want to look at the House of Representatives instead, because they did this for Trump. When people raised the alarm about some of this bill’s components, the House decided to appeal to representatives who think people who are sick are sick because they choose to live unhealthy lives. That’s how Alabama Republican Mo Brooks feels about it (see Salon, May 2, 2017).

The ‘blame’ game has been an issue up on Capitol Hill for decades now, and both sides are guilty of it. I am not even sure if either side really represents their constituents anymore. It seems as if their primary job is to be contrary and to promote incessant fighting between their supporters. There is even rumour that the parties pay people to stir up controversy on social sites, like Facebook and Twitter. Sadly, many of us seem swept up in this emotional onslaught designed to place our focus on the imperfections in each other rather than on the similarities which might allow us to really do some good for others (as well as ourselves).

You can start to see cooperation across the aisle suffer as far back as Truman. Sadly, from there it has never improved — and now we are at a place where Republicans have set-up the House so that they don’t even need Democrats to participate at all to pass legislation and don’t care if Democrats call foul. And before you suggest I’m taking sides, believe me, I know if the Democrats were in power, they’d do the same thing – in fact they did when Obama flew into office along with a slew of Democrats.

The reality is neither party really cares about their constituents as much as they care about winning. And they are working hard to convince us, the public, that winning is all we should care about as well. Neither party is passing good legislation for Americans as a whole. It’s really time for us to stop participating in the finger-pointing, anti-party, ‘you’re not one of us, so we hate you’ bullshit. It is a waste of our energy, and while we engage in it, we are becoming poorer while huge corporate big-wigs are getting mega-richer. Our focus is on each other, while the wolves are picking us off one-by-one.

I think most folks can come together and agree we need money out of politics. So why not consider how your representative (Democrat or Republican) has been representing you? It’s actually not hard to do (sort of). You can easily see how your politicians vote at govtrack.us. What is harder is understanding what they voted for.

You can’t rely on the media to really understand legislation. MSNBC will tell you one thing and FOX will tell you another. If you didn’t know what they were talking about, you might think they were discussing two different pieces of legislation. Worse, and this is the case with the AHCA, legislative speak is not straight-forward. However, govtrack.us does provide a summary of the legislation – so you can at least see if it is an issue that is of interest to you, one that you value. On the other hand, politicians give names to legislation as if they are marketing them, and this can bleed into summaries as well. They want you to think it’s good, even when they know it might be bad or controversial or worse.

Our legislators are experts at ‘hiding’ all kinds of stuff within legislation, so if you really want to know what it’s about you have to read it. If you are lucky, it is stand-alone legislation, meaning it isn’t based on anything else or doesn’t amend or cite other legislation. But if not, like the AHCA, you are going to have to review several documents and track the citations. They will say they are removing a certain section, or replacing certain text – so you will have to hunt and find it to determine what was there before and what they are replacing it with.

This is not easy — and that is why politicians can actually ‘lie’ about what they are doing. Few citizens take time to really read what’s proposed, and if they do and take issue with it, politicians propagandize, saying the nay-sayers are just part of the opposition and being contrary because they are the ‘enemy’.  Again, both parties do this, so I’m not taking sides here.

There is no way you can read every piece of legislation. Your politicians don’t either. They have a staff to do this – so you are at a disadvantage, and they know that too. Worse, you pay for their staff along with any effort they engage in to hide things from you. This is what should have us outraged, not that we disagree, but that our own representatives (regardless of party) try to sneak things through because we as citizens don’t have the bandwidth to track it all.

The reality is, our news isn’t really news anymore. Much of it is propaganda. News agencies are for-profit companies too, and they don’t want to spend money on the truth as much as they want to improve their ratings. They want to get us emotionally excited. So instead of watching them 24/7, take a few hours out and read some actual legislation and see what your politicians are doing. It will help you determine who to believe in the media as well.

What I have found is folks who say all Republicans are bad, or folks who say all Democrats are bad, or folks who say all Conservatives are bad, or folks who say all Liberals are bad — well, they’re biased (I know, who’d have thought?).

The reality is we used to be able to compromise, because there is some truth on both sides. The other reality is, we are never going to pass a health care bill that is perfect for everyone — but we can certainly do much better than either the ACA or the AHCA – but only if we, as the people, stop yelling at each other and start holding our representatives liable for their decisions.

I’m rather unhappy with mine. He hid and refused to comment on the issue, except for a few things he said about trying to provide a tax break to the wealthy. But the wealthy includes more than just the wealthiest 1% of Americans. Worse, this bill takes funds from the most needy, and my representative paints those people as scammers almost universally. Anyone who suggests the majority of people on disability are cheating is attempting to sway us emotionally.

All of us have been scammed at one time or another. For some of us, it caused a psychic change, and we just stopped giving — one person or one family scamming us made us decide to withhold kindness to any family who might need it. To HECK if we were ever going to be rooked again!

It sounds silly that we allow one bad apple to determine the fate of millions of needy people in our country, but it happens. One bad experience led us to believe all requests for support were cons. The result is many choose death rather than try to live in an unforgiving country like the USA – and sadly, some folks are okay with that too.

We probably helped hundreds or more people up until that point, but then we were done – because of one con. Our politicians jump on this behavior to support the movement of vast amounts of funds from the poor, lower, middle and upper classes to the wealthiest of Americans. This is another problem of money in politics.

Sadly, I’m pretty sure my representative supports this. His rhetoric reflects this belief on a regular basis.

Years ago the ‘vote them out’ campaign started. The suggestion was to vote out incumbents because they were all crooked. I don’t know how much of this is true, but I do feel there is too much money on Capitol Hill swaying our politicians from focusing on their constituents to befriending some corporation or lobby group which is promising to make them financially healthier and look good at the same time.

I’m pretty sure this is where the ‘Us vs. Them’ campaign began to push Americans to fight with each other instead of ensuring our politicians remained accountable to the citizens who elected them. I’m not saying vote every politician out, but I’m also not sure how many really honest, American citizen oriented politicians actually work on Capitol Hill, and it would behoove us all to begin to check into their activities (their voting record) on a more detailed basis.

Let’s stop fighting for our party like it is our alma mater and let’s start trying to work together for change that benefits the middle, lower and impoverish classes – heck I’m okay with the rich as well, as long as we are all being given an opportunity to move up the ladder (you still got to work for it, so it’s just the opportunity – it’s not a ‘freebie’).

It is possible for America to operate this way. Many countries are doing it already. Sadly, it is really what America ought to be #1 at – we are supposed to be a real democracy, of the people, for the people. That’s you and me, not just politicians, not just corporations, not just the top 1%.

I’ve met plenty of republicans and democrats, I have plenty of friends in both parties. I know green party members and libertarians. And I disagree and agree with all of them on some points. I find room for compromise, and I rarely meet one that thinks any fellow citizen should die (but sadly I have met some in the recent past, which is a sign this ‘Us vs. Them’ is getting way out of hand).

There are some things we want, we can all want, and we can all have if we work together. But the in-fighting will never allow it to happen. What it allows is for politicians to run amok up on Capital Hill – it ensures as Americans we don’t come together (and we our an insurmountable force when we unite).

Take time to do more than be mad. Take a little time to understand and even give your politician a suggestion. The reality is, if you say nothing it is assumed you have nothing to say. I rarely meet anyone who doesn’t have something to say about our current political situation. So jot it down, take out the curse words and finger-pointing, and send it in. Not sure who to send it to? Go to USA.gov, they’ll direct you from there – and they make it easy, which is awesome.

And if your wondering if I’ll be working to oust my current representative…yes, I will. I have sat by for quite a while without making much of a fuss. He has really said nothing except he was unfamiliar with the actual terms of the AHCA legislation, which is why he voted for it. If he had known some of the implications, he wouldn’t have voted for it.

I find this inexcusable. There was no need to rush this. If your not sure what’s in a bill, don’t vote for it. Vote “No”. There will be another vote. So I just don’t understand how someone votes for a bill they claim they don’t understand or didn’t read, or why I’m paying taxes to pay that person’s salary, not to mention his staff’s.

And that brings up another idea of mine, which is, why don’t we pay politicians based on the Gross National Happiness of Americans as a whole? I mean, why don’t we give them a bonus if we, as Americans, as a whole, are happy? This would end the effort to have us at each other’s throats, wouldn’t it? Maybe we would actually be encouraged to see eye-to-eye, to work together, and to allow each other the freedom to believe what they choose. It would give us room to compromise and room to respect each other.

Would there still be haters? Of course. But many people I see engaging in strong rhetoric in the present day are not really haters. They’ve succumb to an ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality, from which they could recover if they were encouraged to engage in an united mentality. I think it would make a huge difference. Pay politicians based on how good Americans feel about their situation – what a concept, eh? I think it could work.

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