Election Woes

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Confusing Voters

We are 18 days out from the 2018 midterm elections with Democrats and Republicans locked in a desperate struggle to control the Legislative branch of our Federal government. Things start to get very confusing for voters right about now. The Democrats might be turning into Socialists. The Republicans are now claiming that they are the protectors of health care in America, although they voted at least 60 times to overturn the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). We are apparently thick as thieves with Saudi Arabia right now and may be inclined to ignore the assassination of journalists by other dictatorships or “illiberal democracies” if we have advantageous economic arrangements with these nations. Apparently sword dances are also very helpful in this regard. Voter suppression is rampant because Democrats encourage voter fraud (what?). Democrats are a violent mob paid to resist by a Jewish billionaire (George Soros). And thousands of immigrants are on the way to violate our southern border and create mayhem. If all of this is true I say how could 45 allow our nation to get in such bad shape?

Health Care

Ask yourself, who is likely to offer Americans the best health care for the least amount of money, the Democrats or the Republicans? Well, first there is the evidence available for all voters to see in the various health plans that have been offered during the Obama administration and the Trump administration. Obama’s plan was demonized by Republicans for allowing “death panels” to decide who lives and who die (which never came to pass), and was declared unconstitutional by courts that skew to the right because of the individual mandate (you cannot force Americans to buy something or pay a penalty for not buying it even if it would accomplish a larger goal of bringing down the cost of health care for everyone). The Republicans ripped all the teeth out of the ACA and backed the private health insurers (so unfair to billionaires, who are considered sacred even if they are making enormous profits from people’s pain, because they provide jobs and have generous lobbyists). Red states proved their bona fides to the party by refusing the Medicaid expansion, making their poorest citizens do without to keep a greedy party in power. And yet the ACA still worked pretty well and it has provided health care for millions of Americans who never had it.

We also saw what was on offer from Republicans in the Better Care plan which was in no way better than the ACA, and would cause millions to lose coverage. The “skinny repeal” was not their finest hour either. Republicans know insurance companies do not want to cover preexisting condition without being paid big bucks (and who will pay those big bucks, government or individuals). Since all Republicans really care about is the bottom line and backing corporations/businesses, they are trying to help out the insurance companies, not the American people. We have also been learning that almost anything can be classified as a preexisting condition. And yet I hear Republicans telling voters in commercial after commercial that it is Democrats who plan to take away coverage of preexisting conditions and, incidentally, also end Medicare.

Democrats Will End Medicare (what?)

Their claim is based on a cynical argument about linguistics, I guess. They argue that if everyone has “single-payer” health insurance then seniors will lose their Medicare and coverage for preexisting conditions will prove either skimpy or outrageously expensive. Of course if we call “single-payer” Medicare-for-all their argument falls apart. Republicans think that Americans will accept a “catastrophic coverage fund” that people contribute to separately from their health care plan. That will mean that health care only covers people who are healthy. People who are sick will be covered by the catastrophic plan if there is enough money in it. I am guessing that limits will be set on how much help people can expect from this catastrophic plan and then they will be on the hook for the balance, which still may be enough to wipe out their personal finances.

Why Democrats Should Have the Con in 2018 (and beyond)

Does your head hurt? Mine does. But I am not fooled by Republican obfuscation ( in plain language, lies, truth twisting). I know that in the matter of health care the Democrats need to have the con. I don’t care if Republicans keep referring to the idea of single-payer health care as socialism. A label will not kill you; inadequate health care, or health care that excludes because it is too expensive will put many people’s lives or lifestyles at risk. Republicans do not like the government to contribute to any programs that benefit citizens. They truly believe this is not the province of government. However, as world populations increase and climate change (which is real) affects things like food supplies and clean water and rising rates of disease, the government (our taxes) may need to contribute more to our comfort and protection rather than less.

Republicans are Bipartisan (what?)

As for the nonsense in some ads that claims our Republican representatives in Congress are bipartisan it is all I can do not to throw something weighty at my TV. There are many people in America and in my community who believe that these claims are accurate. If you followed the votes on Countable or listened to any news channel other than Fox or the local channels now owned by Sinclair then you know the facts. Once in a while, when Republicans had enough votes to pass legislation without requiring everyone to vote yes they excused some congress people in contested districts to allow them to vote no so they could later claim to be bipartisan. But voting with Trump 90% of the time is hardly a valid claim to bipartisanship. In this case this is just lying. Aren’t we sick of such blatant lying? Is bald-faced lying more honest than less-obvious lying? Can lying come out of a President’s mouth and be classified as “just a game”?

Which Party Actually Serves We the People?

Democrats may not be able to deliver on their promise of “single-payer” health care right away, or family leave, or guaranteed employment programs that cover people when jobs are scarce, but they will govern in such a way as to begin to move our federal government in directions that offer more to we the people and that stop pandering to the wealthiest among us. I really have nothing against wealth but I have a real problem with stacking the deck, with the rich legislating in favor of the rich, and with hoarding. Do people not hear the vastly overconfident Mitch McConnell daring to talk about cutting Medicare and Social Security right before an important midterm election? Doesn’t it get you riled up enough to vote this old man right out of his position at the head of the majority in the Senate. Vote in a new majority, get a new majority leader and end the drumbeat against programs we pay for.

Don’t let these ads confuse you. Vote anyway. Vote wisely.

Graphic: From a Google Image Search, Phys.org

Test ACA By Using It As Intended

Republicans repeat time and again that the ACA is in a “death spiral”, that it is unsustainable and will die of its own internal flaws. The problem is that I will never believe them until they let the ACA function as it was intended to. Reinstate the mandate.

http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/06/the-mandate-is-constitutional-in-plain-english/

Get all the states to accept the Medicaid expansion. Test the ACA by using it as intended.

Free market health care will not work. That is why the ACA put together a public/private partnership. If there were a great option for health care that did not involve any public offerings someone would have already written that plan and it would have been approved right away. Do not listen to the insurance companies right now. They were terrible providers of health insurance if you care to remember. They only covered people who worked, for the most part, and, in fact, only people who worked for medium-sized to giant-sized companies.

If you were self-employed you could sometimes get good insurance when you joined a group or an organization, but if you were on your own insurance was either very pricey or covered very little. People who have preexisting conditions, contrary to popular opinion, do not always have those conditions because they have traveled down the “road to Perdition” and brought it on by their own vices.

Perhaps you heard the newest conclusion based on years of cancer research which says that cancer in our bodies depends on random changes in genes and does not necessarily result from bad lifestyle choices.

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/03/23/521219318/cancer-is-partly-caused-by-bad-luck-study-finds

Although in the future we may once again hear evidence that random gene changes can be affected by some toxic external input, that is not what this recent study concluded. Obviously many people also have conditions besides cancer that are hereditary or work-related, or a result of an accident.

Insurance for most things can be logically based on risk. Health insurance is not that kind of insurance. Someone’s possessions are not what is at stake. Their quality of life is at stake. No insurance company in its right mind truly wants to cover something as risky as human health. But if they can deny insurance to anyone as soon as they show the slightest inclination to be sick or disabled then they can really rake in the profits by insuring only healthy people who get zapped off insurance as soon as symptoms appear. Although this might be good for the insurance industry, how is this good for people, who most assuredly will have health challenges at some point during their lives? Few people make it from cradle to grave without needing some care from the health sector at some point. There may not be a way to offer affordable and good quality health care and make a profit.

If the health insurance industry can prove that it can contain its greed and profit at a slow but steady rate, contain that hunger Capitalism encourages in its practitioners and “have a heart” for its clients, then perhaps we can keep private sector insurance for health concerns. I don’t believe that the insurance industry can practice any such restraint.

When we had only private insurance the competition which many promised would happen did not happen. Companies colluded. If one company raised premiums they all followed suit. If one company offered a new service to justify raising rates everyone jumped on the band wagon. And so, although many people would lose good jobs if private insurance disappeared, a single payer plan which would offer new jobs may be our only possibility if the ACA fails.

Both sides in Congress, if they are opposed to single payer need to find a way to make the current plan, the much maligned ACA, successful. So do the insurance companies. Single payer in America is not socialism. This is the people’s money and it is not socialism when the people decide how they want to spend their own money.

Now that the billionaires have had the American government make laws and tax breaks that shoveled all our money into their apparently bottomless pockets. they argue that the middle class and the poor do not pay enough taxes to support the ACA and that they definitely do not pay enough taxes to support a single payer plan, which these folks see as socialism, but which I do not. It is difficult to feel sad that a billionaire or millionaire might have possessed a few less billions or millions if we did not have such skewed laws. How many millions or billions can you spend, even in several generations? Did you ever read God Bless You Mrs. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut (probably no one reads Vonnegut anymore)? A billionaire wants to get rid of his fortune but every time he gives money away he gets more back.

It seems that billionaires feel faint even thinking about parting with a few million, which they have now convinced themselves appeared in their pockets totally through their own incredible talents and their sole efforts. In order to put an end to this standoff that has arisen because these privileged people have decided to refuse to contribute a portion of their wealth back to our government for the public good, perhaps the taxpayers who are not wealthy will be willing to pay taxes that are a bit higher in order to cover the safety net, the benefits we need as seniors, and a single-payer health care system. Why doesn’t that Congressional Budget Office give the people a figure on what it would cost the people who are not rich to pay for single payer health care and other social benefit programs on their own?

Save ACA Now! No Replacement Plan in Place

This is to those Americans who are in favor of repealing Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act. Are you sure? Speak now or forever hold your peace. It took a long time to bring the insurance companies, the doctors, the hospitals, and everyone who might be affected by a new health care plan to the table to hammer out a deal. It took a lot of negotiation to get insurance companies to cover citizens with preexisting conditions. It took much discussion to address the serious problem of the costs that taxpayers had to endure because people with no primary care providers had turned to the emergency rooms in our hospitals to provide care, care they could not afford to pay for. It meant that people most at risk for health problems were unable to seek preventative care and finally came for treatment only when they were seriously ill and needed expensive meds or procedures. We need to save ACA now!

I’m sure you remember that health coverage once came with jobs, and only with jobs that had a fair number of employees? People who did not have a job or who were self-employed, hourly employees, employees who worked at a small business often had limited or no health care coverage. As employers jumped ship and left our shores for nations with cheaper labor and no unions and no environmental standards the employees they left behind lost their health insurance, at least until they found another job.

I know there are flaws in the Affordable Care Act. Some people are dealing with rates that are too high and copays that are too high. But Republicans deliberately set out to undermine this plan. They knew that the rates would rise if healthy people didn’t buy insurance to offset those who had preexisting conditions. The designers knew that unless there was a mandate that required healthy people to join or pay a fine the numbers would not be favorable enough to the insurance industry and they would want to walk away from the agreement. Yet many red states refused to give their poorest citizens access to expanded Medicaid funds so they could be insured and they got the Supremes to nix the mandate aspect of the plan. In other words, they sabotaged the plan and then insisted that it was broken.

Right now in Congress Democrats are holding a Vote-a-Rama to try to save the Affordable Care Act from repeal. And we should all be hoping that they succeed because we have no inkling of what the Republicans plan to offer us for our health care. Isn’t the enemy you know (if the ACA can be considered an enemy) preferable to the enemy you don’t know (whatever privatized, non-inclusive plan the Conservatives whip up). I am proud of the Democrats for trying, but their odds of succeeding are long. There have been 60 votes in Congress to repeal Obamacare (the ACA) but now the Republicans most likely have the votes to pass a repeal.

If this plan is repealed there is no plan right now to replace it. We have not seen even an outline of what we might expect instead of the current plan. Don’t let repeal happen; at least not right now, not until we know the alternative and it is ready to be put into action. Call or write or email your people in Congress and take some pressure off of them by letting them know that you don’t mind if they come up with a plan before they fulfill your most adamantly expressed wish that Obamacare be repealed. Tell them to do their due diligence and come up with a workable plan. Otherwise expect chaos to reign in medical matters.

Good luck out there. I am happy to stick with Obamacare and have our reps try to fix it, but obviously many of you are not. I hope you are not just being stubborn. I hope you can still respond to logic. Google what is happening to health care in England since the Brexit. I hope that you will save the ACA now.