Category: Health care

The Republican war on children

The Republican war on children

The New York Times
By Paul Krugman
Image courtesy of Mark Makela for The New York Times

Let me ask you a question; take your time in answering it. Would you be willing to take health care away from a thousand children with the bad luck to have been born into low-income families so that you could give millions of extra dollars to just one wealthy heir?

You might think that this question is silly, hypothetical and has an obvious answer. But it’s not at all hypothetical, and the answer apparently isn’t obvious. For it’s a literal description of the choice Republicans in Congress seem to be making as you read this.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, is basically a piece of Medicaid targeted on young Americans. It was introduced in 1997, with bipartisan support. Last year it covered 8.9 million kids. But its funding expired more than two months ago. Republicans keep saying they’ll restore the money, but they keep finding reasons not to do it; state governments, which administer the program, will soon have to start cutting children off.

What’s the problem? The other day Senator Orrin Hatch, asked about the program (which he helped create), once again insisted that it will be funded — but without saying when or how (and there don’t seem to be any signs of movement on the issue). And he further declared, “The reason CHIP’s having trouble is that we don’t have money anymore.” Then he voted for an immense tax cut.

These Americans hated the Health Law, until the idea of repeal sank in

These Americans hated the Health Law, until the idea of repeal sank in

The New York Times
By Kate Zernike and Abby Goodnough
Image courtesy of Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times

Five years ago, the Affordable Care Act had yet to begin its expansion of health insurance to millions of Americans, but Jeff Brahin was already stewing about it.

“It’s going to cost a fortune,” he said in an interview at the time.

This week, as Republican efforts to repeal the law known as Obamacare appeared all but dead, Mr. Brahin, a 58-year-old lawyer and self-described fiscal hawk, said his feelings had evolved.

“As much as I was against it,” he said, “at this point I’m against the repeal. Now that you’ve insured an additional 20 million people, you can’t just take the insurance away from these people,” he added. “It’s just not the right thing to do.”

As Mr. Brahin goes, so goes the nation.

When President Trump was elected, his party’s long-cherished goal of dismantling the Affordable Care Act seemed all but assured. But eight months later, Republicans seem to have done what the Democrats who passed the law never could: make it popular among a majority of Americans.

Most profound, though, is this: After years of Tea Party demands for smaller government, Republicans are now pushing up against a growing consensus that the government should guarantee health insurance. A Pew survey in January found that 60 percent of Americans believe the federal government should be responsible for ensuring that all Americans have health coverage. That was up from 51 percent last year, and the highest in nearly a decade.

How the White House and Republicans underestimated Obamacare repeal

How the White House and Republicans underestimated Obamacare repeal

Politico
By Nancy Cook and Burgress Everett

The longer Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare flounder, the clearer it becomes that President Donald Trump’s team and many in Congress dramatically underestimated the challenge of rolling back former President Barack Obama’s signature achievement.

The Trump transition team and other Republican leaders presumed that Congress would scrap Obamacare by President’s Day weekend in late February, according to three former Republican congressional aides and two current ones familiar with the administration’s efforts.

Republican leaders last fall planned a quick strike on the law in a series of meetings and phone calls, hoping to simply revive a 2015 repeal bill that Obama vetoed.

Few in the administration or Republican leadership expected the effort to stretch into the summer months, with another delay announced this weekend, eating into valuable time for lawmakers to tackle tax reform, nominations or spending bills.

As Trump himself infamously remarked, “nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated” — even though health care has reliably tripped up past administrations.

Now that the difficulty of getting 50 senators to rally around a bill has come into stark relief, Republicans are starting to acknowledge they misjudged the situation.

McConnell says GOP must shore up ACA insurance markets if Senate bill dies

McConnell says GOP must shore up ACA insurance markets if Senate bill dies

The Washington Post
Juliet Eilperin and Amy Goldstein
Image courtesy of AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that if his party fails to muster 50 votes for its plan to rewrite the Affordable Care Act, it will have no choice but to draft a more modest bill with Democrats to support the law’s existing insurance markets.

“If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur,” McConnell said. “No action is not an alternative. We’ve got the insurance markets imploding all over the country.”

McConnell, who pledged in 2014 to eradicate the law also known as Obamacare “root and branch,” initially raised the prospect of having to work with Democrats last week after he pulled a measure he had crafted behind closed doors.

But while he previously declared that Republicans “need to come up with a solution” if they wanted to make real changes to the nation’s health-care system, McConnell on Thursday acknowledged how difficult it is proving to craft an alternative that can satisfy the GOP’s conservative and centrist camps.

His suggestion that he and his colleagues might instead try to bolster the insurance exchanges created under the ACA is at odds with Republican talking points that they are beyond repair.

Yet the Fourth of July recess has not bolstered the political prospects for McConnell’s legislation; GOP senators have been peppered with questions by constituents anxious about the potential impact on their coverage. In the past several days, some senators have implied that considerable work would still be required before the Better Care Reconciliation Act could pass the Senate.

A GOP stunt backfires, and accidentally reveals a truth Republicans want hidden

A GOP stunt backfires, and accidentally reveals a truth Republicans want hidden

The Washington Post
Greg Sargent
Image courtesy of CNBC

With the Republican campaign to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act now set to enter its final, frenzied push, the Indianapolis Star reports that the Indiana GOP attempted a stunt that was supposed to provide Republicans with more ammunition against the law. But the stunt went awry:

The Indiana Republican Party posed a question to Facebook on Monday: “What’s your Obamacare horror story? Let us know.”

The responses were unexpected.

“My sister finally has access to affordable quality care and treatment for her diabetes.”

“My father’s small business was able to insure its employees for the first time ever. #thanksObama”

“Love Obamacare!”

“The only horror in the story is that Republicans might take it away.”…

By 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Indiana GOP’s post collected more than 1,500 comments, the vast majority in support of Obamacare.

This reveals that the energy in this battle right now is on the side of those who want to save the Affordable Care Act. But, while the rate of pro-ACA postings should obviously not be taken as a scientific indicator of public opinion, this episode also neatly captures another larger truth about why it is proving so hard for Republicans to repeal the law: It has helped untold numbers of people, and the GOP bill would largely reverse that.

This is admittedly a simple and obvious point, yet the extraordinary lengths to which Republicans are going to obscure this basic reality continue to elude sufficient recognition. If you think about it, pretty much every major lie that President Trump and Republicans are telling right now to get their repeal-and-replace bill passed is designed to cover it up.

The threat Trump poses that gets almost no attention

The Washington Post — Written by Catherine Rampell

Bradley Ledgerwood, 36, is a proud Republican and an enthusiastic fan of President Trump.

He’s also on a fast track to becoming one of Trump’s fabled Forgotten Men.

Ledgerwood has been enamored with politics all his life. An active member of the Craighead County Republican Committee and the Northeast Arkansas Political Animals lunch club, he serves as an alderman for 342-person Cash, Ark.

Profoundly physically disabled, Ledgerwood participates in these activities only through the help of two government-funded programs that are now on the chopping block: Medicaid and legal aid.

You’ve no doubt heard lots about threats to the first of these, given Republican efforts to wring $800 billion from the federal low-income health insurance program. The second has received almost no attention, despite facing an existential threat from both the president and House Republicans.

Arthritis surgery sounded like a breeze. So why was she in more pain?

Arthritis surgery sounded like a breeze. So why was she in more pain?

The Washington Post — Written by Sandra G. Boodman — Image courtesy of Cameron Cottrill /For The Washington Post

To Beth Jersey, it sounded like a no-brainer.

The pain from the deteriorated joint at the base of her thumb caused by osteoarthritis was worsening, making her favorite hobby — gardening — increasingly difficult.

So in February 2014, the 58-year-old payroll manager who lives in northern California decided to have the outpatient operation recommended by her hand surgeon to repair the joint. Two of her friends had undergone the same procedure and “were really happy with the results,” she said. “They had no complications. It sounded really simple.”

But as Jersey discovered almost immediately, her case was anything but.