So, where can we even start? Okay, France’s election proved that they are, as they have long said, more together as a society than we are. LePen the fascist got sent packing, and Macron, an imperfect centrist corporatist, won the election. If only we could’ve had an imperfect centrist corporatist beat a fascist, I probably wouldn’t even be writing this, but oh well, spilt milk. I guess I’ll just light up a Gaulois and rue the folly of these focking Americains while I wait for my friend, Godot.
The GOP, having passed the dreadful AHCA out of the House of Representatives last week, launched a full court press disinformation campaign to lie to the public to drum up support for its handiwork. Tom Price went on the Sunday talk shows to insist that the AHCA handles the issue of preexisting medical conditions better than the ACA, a baldfaced lie. What the AHCA does is lets states entirely opt out of the ACA’s requirement that preexisting conditions be covered, as long as any state that does so funnels its sick people into a high-risk pool. Those pools have been tried before, and they’re dismal failures What will happen is that a small number of insurers will make that coverage available to sick people, at an astronomical premium that people won’t be able to afford on their own. And the AHCA doesn’t adequately subsidize those pools, providing only a fraction of what would actually be needed to defray the costs of coverage.
Paul Ryan had this to say on Stephanopoulos: “Under this bill, no matter what, you cannot be denied coverage if you have a preexisting condition,” Ryan said. “And under this bill, you cannot only not be denied coverage, you can’t be charged higher.” That’s bullshit, of course. You can be charged out the ass under this bill. Ryan then tried to recover, saying “Let me finish my point….You can’t charge people more if they keep continuous coverage. The key of having a continuous-coverage provision is to make sure that people stay covered and they move from one plan to the next if they want to. It’s kind of like waiting until your house is on fire to then buy your homeowner’s insurance. You want to make sure that people stay covered to keep the cost down.”
See what he did there? He conflated two separate lies. Yes, if you have a preexisting condition, you can now be shuffled off to a high risk pool. You won’t be able to afford that coverage, so you’re screwed. Simple. The “continuous coverage” provision, on the other hand, is what Republicans came up with to replace the ACA’s “individual mandate”, the requirement that you either buy coverage or pay a tax. The GOP came up with a much less effective and ultimately dumber idea: if you let coverage lapse, you then pay a 30% penalty when you do buy coverage again. I already discussed in a previous post that this provides the opposite incentive, in that it encourages people to simply not buy coverage until they’re sick. Then they can pay a surcharge for coverage, but in the meantime, they end up paying tens of thousands less than they would have if they maintained coverage. It’s obvious to anyone who understands it how easily this “penalty” can get gamed. The problem is that it will destroy the risk pool, and destroy the individual insurance market. The mandate is the only way you can get there – just ask the conservative Heritage Foundation, who proposed the idea originally. They loved it before the n-word got elected….
Anyway, kudos to Paul Ryan for being the kind of grinning, remorseless evil that can actually celebrate kicking 24 million people off their healthcare and then have the balls to lie to the people who voted for him about what he just did. That takes an exceptional, one in a million kind of jerk, and that’s Paul Ryan.
If there’s any consolation in all of this, it’s that the AHCA is unlikely to make it through the Senate. I’m sure those folks will unleash their own fresh hell on America, but it won’t be this, hopefully. The one thing that makes me hopeful is that the more you see the polling around healthcare issues, the more you realize that people have come to see health care as a right, not a privilege. And that’s a lasting triumph of Obama’s legacy that Trump and all his wingnuts simply can’t undo.
In other news, Scott Pruitt has ousted a bunch of scientists from the scientific advisory board of the EPA, so as to allow people from regulated polluting industries to fill those spots. Yep, the foxes are officially going to be guarding the henhouse. The job of the EPA, which is charged with safeguarding the environment, is now going to be ensuring that the government doesn’t get in the way of the polluters’ agenda.
These are sad days in America. There are legislative solutions, but rank and file Americans actually support these idiots, thinking that Exxon and Koch Industries have the same interests and priorities that they do. They cheer on their own destruction, so they can’t be counted on to bring to bear the critical thinking it’ll take to solve our problems. I’m starting to wonder if we aren’t closer to complete societal decline than I thought. And if we are, even the most liberal and pacifistic among us had better think about what survival in a declining and collapsing society will take, and prepare accordingly.