Al Franken Speaks: It’s Simple, If AHCA Passes—People Are Going to Die

Sen. Al Franken discusses how dangerous Trumpcare actually is:

 

The GOP’s AHCA, if enacted, will strip people of their protections, not so much in the language as written striking those protections directly, but through the granting of “waivers.”  Various states, specifically “red” states, want to be able apply for waivers such that they don’t have to provide healthcare plans that provide coverage for any “essential healthcare benefit” identified in the ACA that they don’t particularly like.  That means MEN in GOP-dominated legislatures who don’t think “maternity care” should be an essential benefit because MEN don’t get pregnant, can seek waivers for having to provide plans that cover maternity care.  The same might hold true for those opposing inclusion of Emergency Room care, or prescription drugs, or 1st-day expenses associated with a hospital admission (the most expensive day), or cancer screenings, etc. Similarly, waivers could be sought regarding annual or lifetime limits of coverage.  We already know that they’re seeking an amendment that would block all coverage for 3-months should someone come up short after getting fired from a job and miss a payment to their healthcare insurer.

If the AHCA passes in the Senate and goes back to the House for a vote, the House could choose to short-circuit the process and end their struggle to “repeal and replace” by merely voting to accept the Senate-passed bill and it would head to interloper in the White House’s desk for his glorious 2″ tall signature in some binder he can hold up for all to see.

One thing all of us need to understand is that enactment of the AHCA will be the first step in the race to the bottom for ALL of us (not just those on medicaid or those buying insurance via exchanges) — even those who currently have employer-based insurance will be dramatically impacted.  You see, employers already buy insurance “across state lines” because they typically have plans that insure employees in multiple states.  That means, they’ll be looking at which states sought waivers and for what type of coverage they sought waivers that will drive their cost of insuring their workforce down.  When they start buying insurance from waivered-state insurance providers, those essential health benefits you’ve become accustomed to having and using are going to start disappearing.  Your costs/cost-sharing/deductibles/etc. are all going to dig deeper into your pockets, and that’s before all those age-rated factors start kicking in, or your workplace becomes too hostile for you to tolerate any more as they lean on you more heavily attempting to get you to leave so they can hire a less expensive to insure younger employee.

Those of us who live in rural America already know how hard it is to obtain services or to even find a healthcare insurer … at any price.  Corporations have no interest in doing business in rural America where doctors are fewer, where hospitals and clinics serve smaller populations and where serious emergency cases have some seriously high transportation costs associated with getting them to the nearest trauma center.  It can only get worse for us.

Bottom-line?  People are going to lose their ability to afford insurance.  AND … people are going to needlessly die early deaths.

Heller’s High (or should I say Low) Water on Healthcare

In case you haven’t heard, Senator Dean Heller supports MASSIVE cuts to Medicaid.  In fact, Senator Heller has drug the proverbial tea and has expressed his support for PHASING OUT the Medicaid expansion over the next 7 years.

After weeks of denying, fudging and wriggling, Heller is finally admitting he’s ready to end the Medicaid expansion covering more than 138,000 Nevadans—including children—since Obamacare became law.  THAT is unacceptable. Senator Heller was elected to look out for Nevadans, but he’s instead ripping the rug out from those who count on Medicaid.

“I support seven, I support seven,” Heller told reporters on his way into a healthcare working group meeting in the Capitol. “So do a number of us, including [Sen. Rob] Portman [R-Ohio] and others who have been working on this.”

Full story here.

Apparently Heller figures blame won’t fall back on him if they just “slowly” take Medicaid away from over 130,000 Nevadans and millions across the U.S.  … over a 7 year time frame. What folks need to understand is, that without Federal “matching funds” which enable States to open up the Medicaid insurance program to those whose incomes are below or just above the poverty line, it will be detrimentally consequential. Thirty-one states chose to expand Medicaid, and, as a result, 11 million to 12 million newly eligible people were finally able to obtain health insurance.  If federal matching funds are withdrawn, most states will likely return to the more restrictive eligibility rules for Medicaid eligibility ― effectively wiping out the coverage gains, leaving millions of low-income Americans with worse access to health care and more exposure to crushing medical bills.  In other words, it’s the equivalent of legislating a “death panel” where access is denied or expensive procedures/surgeries are denied as funding will not be available and people WILL die.

At a time when the Nevada Legislature is seriously considering a “Medicaid for All” healthcare delivery model that would let Nevadans buy into a “public” delivery system to assure Nevadans can more effectively access healthcare coverage, it appears that Senator Heller has chosen to throw his constituents under the first bus he can find.  Even Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican who doesn’t support blocking healthcare coverage access for so many Nevadans, has shared his concern about rolling back the Medicaid expansion.

We can’t let Heller and his spokespeople get away with playing loose with the truth, calling this “fake news,” and blaming it on Democrats.  He made the comment and it’s on tape!

We must defeat Senator Heller in 2018. Nevadans can’t afford to lose the Medicaid expansion.

Related posts:

Trumpcare Was for CEOs, Not Patients

Buried in Paul Ryan’s failed replacement for Obamacare was a huge handout to overpaid health insurance CEOs.

Jim Hightower

It appears that House Speaker Paul Ryan’s 123-page legislative plan for Trumpcare, the GOP’s so-called “replacement” for Obamacare, is dead — for now, anyway.

Republicans tried to rush it through, but not before the Congressional Budget Office discovered it was actually a displacement plan.

That is, if it had passed, 24 million Americans who are now insured would have lost their insurance. Moreover, the premiums paid by senior citizens would have been jacked up, and the benefits for practically everyone would have been cut.

But Ryan did make sure that one group with special needs would have benefited from his legislative wizardry: the CEOs of giant insurance corporations.

money-healthcare-drugs
(Photo: Bill Brooks/Flickr)

Understandably, none of the GOP lawmakers who’ve been loudly crowing about killing Obamacare mentioned a little, six-line provision hidden on page 67, discretely titled “Remuneration from Certain Insurers.” In plain English, this gob of gobbledygook offers a tax subsidy that encourages insurance conglomerates to increase the pay of their top executives.

Current tax law says insurers can pay as much as they want to top executives, but they can only deduct $500,000 per executive from their corporate taxes. Under Ryan’s rip-off, however, we taxpayers would have at least doubled — and possibly quadrupled — the unconscionable salary subsidies we dole out to these enormously profitable corporations.

The White House and GOP Congress proclaimed that their replacement of Obamacare was “the will of the people.” Really? How many Americans think that jacking up the pay of super-rich insurance chiefs is a proper use of our tax dollars?

And I’d say a big majority of the people would think it immoral to steal lifesaving healthcare benefits from working-class and poor families just to subsidize corporate elites who are already overpaid.

If Republicans actually thought their executive pay subsidy was the will of the people, why did they try so hard to keep it a secret?


OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. Distributed by OtherWords.org. 

Is Rep. Mark Amodei Just a Malleable Lump of GOP Clay?

In a “Special Newsletter” sent out on 3/9/17, Rep. Mark Amodei wrote:

“The House has introduced legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. I’m sure you have questions and are looking for specifics about the bill, so I wanted to share the bill with you here. I welcome your thoughts and feedback and I’d also like to share with you where I currently stand on this issue.

I’ve always said we need health care reform. Is Obamacare broken? I believe that it is. Just look at the facts: premiums are soaring, options are limited, and 18 out of the 23 original co-ops have failed. Not to mention the fact that nearly one-third of counties across the nation have only one insurer to choose from – a side effect that is especially present in Nevada where residents in 10 counties have been denied the choices and affordability originally promised by Obamacare.

However, I also believe that there are some successful aspects of our current system that we should keep, such as ensuring individuals with pre-existing conditions have access to the care they need and young adults have the option to stay on their parent’s health care plan until age 26.

I’ve also always said House Leadership should provide time, through committee hearings, to discuss the many facets related to our nation’s health care system. To date, I’m incredibly disappointed that the House has failed to have any meaningful committee hearings – denying governors, health care professionals, and other stakeholders an opportunity to explain on the record what this means for the American people. 

As the saying goes, “nothing good happens after midnight.” Sound policy is not going to come out of marathon markups that go through the night and into the next day.  So now I must ask, what if anything, have Republicans learned from Democrats hastily pushing Obamacare through Congress seven years ago? Apparently, we haven’t learned anything from our experience in 2010, because markups have simply become opportunities for Members on both sides of the aisle to practice their floor speeches.

Instead of going about this process in an open, transparent, and collaborative manner, House Leadership has opted for a rushed approach – undercutting sound analysis, public transparency, and the time necessary to determine the implications of their policy.

The people of Nevada elected me to Congress – not a think tank. Whipping up a bill behind closed doors and rushing it through Congress is not the type of process that builds people’s confidence in Congress’ work product.

In any event, I wanted to take an opportunity to assure you that my staff and I will keep doing our homework, breaking down the door to gather information about this bill. Our goal is to ensure this reform package will increase Americans’ access to quality and affordable care, while paying respect to rural communities like ours.

As always, I will continue to play to the issues and not the politics. I will make up my mind based on what the House has accomplished in terms of fixing the top-line issues outlined above and if this bill is sensible for Nevada.  

I hope you appreciate this special edition update. I ask that you take a moment to review this proposal and let me know what you think through my website. Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter and stay tuned for my regular weekly update. “

Subsequent to sending out his above “Special Newsletter” he went on MSNBC to say he was a “NO” vote on the GOP’s (Un)American Health Care Act.  He also included a link to that interview with MSNBC’s Ali Velshi in a subsequent email to constituents.  Here’s that video interview:

 

Subsequent to that, Rep. Amodei attended a meeting hosted by the president, who declared that all of those in the room (which included Rep. Amodei), came in as “NOs” and were now YESes. The vote has now been scheduled for Thursday, tomorrow, in the US House of Representatives. I guess we’ll have to watch the vote tomorrow to see if Rep. Amodei is a man of his word, or just some malleable lump of clay that can be molded by others to suit their political needs regardless of the needs of the citizens of Nevada. Will he bow to “politics” or will he represent us?  That remains to be seen.

AMA Physicians Reject House ACA Replacement Bill


Andrew W. Gurman, MD Andrew W. Gurman, MD
President
American Medical Association
@AndyGurmanMD

The American Health Care Act (AHCA), released by Congress this week, is intended to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But as introduced, it does not align with the health reform objectives that the AMA set forth in January to protect patients. While the ACA is imperfect, the current version of the AHCA is not legislation we can support.

The replacement bill, as written, would reverse the coverage gains achieved under the ACA, causing many Americans to lose the health care coverage they have come to depend upon.

In a letter sent today to leaders of the House committees that will mark up the AHCA, AMA CEO and Executive Vice President James L. Madara, MD, wrote that the proposed changes to Medicaid would limit states’ ability to respond to changes in service demands and threaten coverage for people with low incomes. Dr. Madara also noted that the proposed changes in tax credits and subsidies to help patients purchase private health insurance coverage are expected to result in fewer Americans with insurance coverage.

It is unclear the exact impact this bill will have on the number of insured Americans, and review by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is still pending. The ratings and analytics firm S&P Global Ratings has already estimated that as many as 10 million Americans could lose coverage if this bill becomes law, saying that between 2 million and 4 million people could lose the insurance they purchased in the individual health exchanges under the ACA, and between 4 million and 6 million could lose their coverage under Medicaid.

That just won’t do.

We all know that our health system is highly complex, but our core commitment to the patients most in need should be straightforward. As the AMA has previously stated, members of Congress must keep top of mind the potentially life-altering impact their policy decisions will have.

We physicians often see patients at their most vulnerable, from the first time they set eyes on a newborn child to the last time they squeeze a dying loved one’s hand. We don’t want to see any of our patients, now insured, exposed to the financial and medical uncertainties that would come with losing that coverage.

That is, above all, why physicians must be involved in this debate.

Editor’s note: In the coming weeks, a series of AMA Wire® articles will explore policies that form the basis of the AMA’s advocacy on health reform. Read parts one (“Protecting insurance gains is priority No. 1”) and two (“No going back on key market protections”).

Reprinted with permission and as Published by the American Medical Association on AMA Wire at: https://wire.ama-assn.org/ama-news/physicians-reject-house-aca-replacement-bill