Health care needs more than reshuffling who pays

Already running short of tranquilizers, liberals tested the capacity of the health care system that the Republicans are trying to fix. They

Tom West, West Words

pushed their own blood pressure to record highs earlier this week in response to the House of Representatives’ solution. As emergency rooms filled with leftists gasping for breath, the president then fired FBI Director James Comey. His ouster was because either he failed to prosecute Hillary Clinton or he was trying to prosecute Trump. We’ll see.

Comey, as everyone knows, joined Vladimir Putin in masterminding the election of Donald Trump as president. They manipulated the naive, gullible and uneducated (otherwise known as the American electorate) using fake or at least unimportant news.

When Trump then fired Comey, the libs blew a gasket, and the health care system came to a halt quicker than a freeway crowded with demonstrators.

If the Republicans’ intent was to get the liberals out of health care, they didn’t do a very good job.

As a conservative, which is not the same as a Republican, I remain mystified by what House Speaker Paul Ryan and friends were thinking. Are they really Putin’s moles sent to Washington to screw up our health care more than the Democrats already did? Or are the conspiracy theorists correct in claiming that, like the Dems, the Republicans really want to go to a single-payer system which will guarantee that we will all live to 109 or the end of the world, whichever comes first? Even odds on that.

The problem with health care isn’t that not enough people have insurance. The problem is that the state of the medical art costs more than most Americans can afford. There’s little wonder in how that happened. We’ve told U.S. consumers for a long time that they didn’t have to pay for their health care. It started when businesses began offering health insurance benefits as a means of attracting employees after World War II. It then accelerated after Medicare was enacted for senior citizens in 1965. Today, the average Medicare recipient receives more than $133,000 in care that they didn’t pay for — and neither has anyone else. Our grandkids might get around to settling up, but I wouldn’t bet on it. I’m guessing they will be more likely to set the cemeteries on fire when they realize what we’ve done to them.

Not long after Medicare was instituted, the politicians realized that it was a money drain of unprecedented proportions. Thus, they began cutting Medicare payments to the providers. So what did the providers do? They made up for the government shortfalls by raising the rates on everybody else. Insurers loved the setup because they could tack their percentage of profits on billions of dollars instead of only thousands.

After 45 years of this folly, the Democrats decided to do something about it. They passed the Unaffordable Care Act (UCA) under the delusion that the bogeymen in the game were the insurers. Force every citizen to take out insurance, give subsidies to the half of the population that can’t afford the premiums, put the squeeze on insurers and, voila, problem solved.

Except it wasn’t. Only about half of the uninsured, even under the threat of fines, bothered to get insurance. The providers kept giving themselves raises, consumers kept using the health care system as if they didn’t have to pay for it, and lastly, insurers determined there was no longer any money to be made in health care, and quit.

The result? Families without health insurance through their employer and who made just a little too much to qualify for subsidies, suddenly found their health insurance premiums tripling or worse. A family making a little over $100,000, already paying $30,000 in state and federal taxes, suddenly found itself paying $30,000 or $40,000 for health insurance. Talk about the working poor.

The Republicans then promised to repeal and replace the UCA.

Shuffling the deck chairs on this Titanic, the GOP-led House replaced the penalty for not having insurance with a 30 percent premium hike if one tries to buy insurance after not having coverage for two months. They also would cut Medicaid spending $88 billion annually for the next decade, taking Medicaid expenditures back to 2007 levels. Contrary to popular belief, they also included plenty of money to cover those with pre-existing conditions.

But then, instead of offering a means-tested approach to premium subsidies, they went with a flat tax credit, the same for everybody, millionaire or working poor, which would price millions of Trump supporters out of the health insurance market.

I’ve been saying for some time, the only solution that will work is to deregulate to remove the ability to set unaffordable prices. Reduce the patent protections on meds or devices like Epi-pens. Increase the number of providers. Incentivize insurers to compete, not quit.

Most important, give average folks a chance to reach or stay in the middle class. Otherwise, they will vote the GOP out, just as they did the Democrats.

As to putting Trump and/or Hillary in jail, the suggestion for now is to take a deep breath and blow into a paper bag. The ER is full.

 

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  • newpolitiq7

    Setting aside West’s already-dated references to the Comey firing (which were somewhat bizarrely co-mingled with the important issues of healthcare reform), the problem of rising healthcare costs CAN be addressed — by removing the profit motive from the equation. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/business/health-care-and-pursuit-of-profit-make-a-poor-mix.html

    And Trumpcare, as recently approved by the Republican House members, is less about healthcare than it is about a huge tax cut for the wealthy: “GOP Health Care Bill Would Cut About $765 Billion In Taxes Over 10 Years”. “The lion’s share of the tax savings would go to the wealthy and very wealthy. According to the Tax Policy Center, the top 20 percent of earners would receive 64 percent of the savings and the top 1 percent of earners (those making more than $772,000 in 2022) would receive 40 percent of the savings.” (from http://www.npr.org/2017/05/04/526923181/gop-health-care-bill-would-cut-about-765-billion-in-taxes-over-10-years)

    Average Americans should be incensed about this transfer of wealth to their fellow Americans who don’t need it — at the expense of their own affordable healthcare. Tell your “conservative” legislators to treat healthcare as a right, not merely a privilege for the wealthy.

  • newpolitiq7

    Re: FBI investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia, I’m less flippant than West, and open to seeing the results of a complete investigation. Rep. Slawell, member of House Judiciary investigation of this, has an interesting 101-level chart on connections: https://swalwell.house.gov/issues/russia-trump-his-administration-s-ties

  • newpolitiq7
  • newpolitiq7
  • John Snell

    Don’t forget the 600 b in premium support. A total of a 1.4 trillion cut. The problem with increasing supply is that it won’t keep pace with demand. Building new hospitals and clinics cost money and we have a shortage of nurses and almost 50% of doctors are reaching retirement age. They are trying to fix rising healthcare costs by dealing with insurance cos. Treating the symtoms and not the disease. You cant curb prices in the private market. So… ACA or no ACA prices will continue rise as before and eventually it will be unaffordable for almost averyone. Single payer is the only viable solution. Keeping privatized heathcare because of political ideology is devastating to families.