Nel's New Day

May 6, 2017

DDT: More Week Fifteen

The spin on health care keeps coming. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) claims that she would never hurt people with pre-existing conditions because she has a special-needs child. According to Rodgers, states can have “new models for better patient outcomes” and criticizes health insurance for relying “on younger, healthier people subsidizing the costs of the older and sicker.” That’s why it’s called “insurance.” People whose houses don’t burn down subsidize people whose houses burn down. That’s insurance. The GOP is now officially “the party of death.”

Lucky for Rodgers, she’ll still have insurance if the rest of the nation doesn’t. And her need for “new models” didn’t extend to state retirement plans that can help the national retirement savings crisis. Republicans vote for states’ rights as long as they benefit only the wealthy.

About ten percent of the Republicans who voted to take health care from people are facing their constituents at town hall meetings, and their audience isn’t swallowing what their representatives are serving. A crowd loudly jeered Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) when he claimed that nobody dies from a lack of access to health care. A study published in 2009 by the American Journal of Public Health shows that lack of health insurance is linked with 45,000 deaths annually, about 2.5 times higher than the estimate from the Institute of Medicine in 2002. Uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts, up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in 1993. Labrador probably isn’t aware of research surrounding health care because he probably didn’t even read the bill he supported.

The Republicans claim that no one should have to pay for other people’s health insurance, but they make sure that we pay for the GOP war that George W. Bush started over 14 years ago. Taxpayers also pay for the extended DDT family‘s travel around the world, touting their businesses. The budget that DDT just signed into law includes an extras $120 million for security that includes reimbursements to law enforcement in Manhattan and Palm Beach and another $73 for “necessary expenses for presidential security.” Between the election and inauguration, New York paid $24 million for Trump Tower security, and Palm Beach County has spent $4.5 million in overtime pay for presidential protection. DDT has not spent one weekend in the White House since his inauguration, and each of DDT’s seven trips—25 days—to Mar-a-Lago has cost over $600,000 for just the flights. None of these costs shows the loss to the economy as small businesses are badly damaged by restrictions from DDT’s presence.

DDT’s businesses are profiting. His frequent trips to his properties, including his Washington hotel for dinner and his Virginia golf course, has increased their income by 30 percent. Taxpayers also give DDT $1.5 million a year to rent the floor below DDT’s penthouse, and he still appears on ads his new condominium building on Uruguay’s coast. The Trump Organization is using Mar-a-Lago’s taxpayer-provided helipad for Marine One, and the club’s promotional magazine features quotes about DDT’s last presidential campaign and an advertisement for Ivanka’s jewelry.

During his campaign DDT was highly critical of costs for President Obama’s vacations and the time that he played golf. A DDT broken promise: “I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf.” In eight years, the former president spent $96 million–$8 million a year, a sum that DDT blew through in less than three weeks. Although he tries to hide his games, DDT has played golf on the average of three times that the former president did.

Some other happenings from last week:

The Heritage Foundation has fired Jim DeMint from his position as president. One reason was was tension between DeMint and Ed Feulner, his predecessor, who was concerned that the DeMint-era emphasis on political activism overshadowed the institution’s role in the intellectual development of the conservative movement.” Feulner will replace DeMint on an interim basis. But the reasons behind the coup against DeMint might be deeper.

Be careful where you laugh. CodePink member Desiree Fairooz, 61, could face up to a year in prison. Her crime was laughing after Sen. Richard Shelby said during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearings that the nominee had a history of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.” She didn’t disrupt the proceedings until she was arrested and dragged out of the Senate chambers. No one was arrested for laughing when Sessions “joked” about disagreements with his wife. Each of two men wearing KKK costumes at the Sessions hearing could also be in prison for a year each.

Current administrative officials treat leadership like a joke. Last week, Wilbur Ross, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, described the U.S. preemptive bombings on Syria as “after-dinner entertainment” for guests at the Mar-a-Lago club on 6 April. His audience of the wealthy and powerful at the Milken Institute Global Conference laughed. Ross continued by saying, “The thing was, it didn’t cost the president anything to have that entertainment.” Actually, taxpayers shelled out about $100 million for the “entertainment.” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) referred to the “most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen” five times when he talked about the bombing.

DDT touted the Energy Star program, which honors businesses and organizations that excel in energy efficiency, as “America’s resource for saving energy and protecting the environment.” Then he announced that he will eliminate the 25-year-old program. Energy Star posts information on appliances about their energy efficiency, and over 1,000 U.S. companies call it a model for successful collaboration between public and private sectors. DDT’s properties, also evaluated by the Energy Star program, typically get low ratings: eleven of his 15 skyscrapers in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco are less energy efficient that comparable buildings. On a scale of 1 to 100, his Mayfair Hotel, now converted into condos, received a 1. Follow the rubles.

As a campaigner, DDT said he’d label China a currency manipulator. Now he says they aren’t because he made China to stop manipulating the currency as soon as he was inaugurated. He didn’t know that China’s currency manipulation ceased in 2014. The question is whether DDT is delusional or merely ignorant.

DDT has abdicated another responsibility of “commander-in-chief.” The Pentagon is now in charge of setting troop levels in Iraq and Syria where over 5,000 military members are employed.

DDT looked forward to terminating the trade agreement like a Christmas gift to himself until his brand new Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue, showed him a map of how the farmers who voted for him would be hurt. DDT changes his mind based on maps as well as what hurts blue states and who talked with more recently.

Guns were banned at the annual NRA meeting in Georgia where DDT made a campaign speech. Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Guns should be available everywhere with no restrictions. And NRA members are all responsible gun owners who would never kill people. Right!

Sean Hannity’s question about DDT’s biggest accomplishment brought a variety of responses. My favorite: Not getting impeached.

DDT wants to change libel laws  so that he can sue journalists and the media for articles that DDT considers inaccurate and “win lots of money.”

Why would DDT call for “a good shutdown”? Maybe because he wants to know how far he can go and still have support. A year ago he said that he could kill someone in the street, and he would still get elected president. Now he’s called president—although he wasn’t sure about it at a recent speech. Fill the Cabinet with billionaires who hate their agencies? Sounds good. Shut down the press? No problem. Buddy up with the world’s tyrants while rejecting the nation’s allies? Just fine. Now he wants a “good shutdown” in September to fix the “mess” in government. He blames the constitutional checks and balances:

“I think the rules in Congress – and in particular the rules in the Senate – are unbelievably archaic and slow moving. And in many cases, unfair. In many cases, you’re forced to make deals that are not the deal you’d make. You’d make a much different kind of a deal. You’re forced into situations that you hate to be forced into.”

To change the “rules of the Senate” is because “for the good of the nation things are going to have to be different.” A major goal is to do away with the Senate filibuster of 60 votes if more Republicans aren’t elected. He’ll have to do more than that because of the serious split in the GOP.

DDT ran on a campaign promise of changing Washington, D.C., yet 54 percent of voters say that he’s made no progress. I disagree: he’s made it much worse.

April 29, 2014

Obamacare Terrifies GOP Leaders

What happens when GOP leaders accidentally tell the truth? There’s a lot of backpedalling!

What Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said last week:

“We need to look at reforming the exchanges.”

The news that over 600,000 residents in Washington state probably led her to say that the Affordable Care Act will persist with reforms occurring within that structure.

What Rodgers said this week via her spokesman Nate Hodson:

“The headline is not an accurate or representative portrayal of what the congresswoman said in the interview, what her voting record reflects, or what she believes. She will continue fighting to repeal Obamacare at every opportunity moving forward and replace it with patient-centered reforms.”

What House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said last week:

“[To] repeal Obamacare … isn’t the answer. The answer is repeal and replace. The challenge is that Obamacare is the law of the land. It is there and it has driven all types of changes in our health care delivery system. You can’t recreate an insurance market overnight.”

About immigration, Boehner blamed rank-and-file House Republicans for the lack of immigration reform and ridiculed them for an unwillingness to work hard.

What Boehner said this week:

“There was no mocking. Listen, you all know me. You tease the ones you love. But some people misunderstood what I had to say. And I wanted to make sure that members understood that the biggest impediment we have in moving immigration reform forward is [the president].”

People who watch the video of Boehner’s mocking his own party members might disagree with his assessment. Spokesman Brendan Buck tried to cover for Boehner’s comments about the ACA: “For four years now, the House Republican position has been repeal-and-replace.”

That’s not necessarily true:

  • 2012: Boehner said, “It’s pretty clear that the president was re-elected. Obamacare is the law of the land.”
  • 2013: Boehner shut down the federal government using, in part, the opposition to the ACA.
  • 2014: Boehner said that the ACA is “the law of the land” and full repeal “isn’t the answer.”

Would the real John Boehner please stand up?

Scott Brown, briefly a GOP Massachusetts senator now running for the same office in New Hampshire, also demonstrates the GOP confusion related to the Affordable Care Act. Because opposition to Obamacare helped elect him to senate in 2010, much of his current campaign is based on his opposition to the ACA. He has declared Obamacare a disaster and want a plan that sounds almost exactly like the ACA:

“I’ve always felt that people should either get some type of health care options, or pay for it with a nice competitive fee. That’s all great. I believe it in my heart. In terms of preexisting conditions, catastrophic coverage, covering kids–whatever we want to do, we can do it.”

This is his position for New Hampshire healthcare:

“As a matter of fact, in New Hampshire, I would encourage everybody to do a New Hampshire plan that works for New Hampshire, that deals with individual freedoms, and doesn’t have mandates put on by bureaucrats in Washington … a plan that is good for New Hampshire … can include the Medicaid expansion folks who need that care and coverage.”

Throughout the country, GOP candidates are campaigning on an anti-ACA platform that replaces it with the existing ACA provisions:

  • Thom Tillis (NC GOP Senate candidate) says that of course he supports protecting people with preexisting conditions, just not with Obamacare.
  • Tom Cotton and Terri Lynn Land (AR and MI GOP Senate candidates) want to expand health care to those who need it but don’t take positions on state Medicaid expansions.

Voters need to ask GOP candidates these questions:

  • What do they intend to replace the ACA with?
  • How many consumers would lose coverage if Republicans have their way?
  • What’s wrong with Medicaid expansion?
  • Why would they oppose the ACA’s most popular provisions?
  • How does one endorse ACA goals while condemning the ACA policy?

One man, Dean Angstadt, represents everything that terrifies GOP candidates and legislators. A self-employed logger, he refused to have anything to do with the ACA because he thinks that the Democrats are “full of it.” Yet the worry about his faulty aortic valve led him to either use the ACA to buy a health plan for life-saving surgery or die. The pacemaker and defibrillator implants that helped his heart three years ago weren’t working any longer. He hoped to save money for surgery but couldn’t work to make the money.

Luckily he had a friend who persuaded him to sign up for health insurance through the ACA and pay his premium of $26.11. His plan started on March 1, and his surgery for life-saving valve replacement was on March 31. Angstadt said, “Not only did it save my life, it’s going to give me a better quality of life.”

He continued, “For me, this isn’t about politics. I’m trying to help other people who are like me, stubborn and bullheaded, who refused to even look. From my own experience, the ACA is everything it’s supposed to be and, in fact, better than it’s made out to be. A lot of people I talk to are so misinformed about the ACA.”

Conservatives like the Koch brothers pay for ads to keep Angstadt and others like him from signing up for health care. He learned that they were wrong, and he’s alive to tell others that opposition to “Obamacare” is wrong.

Not everyone will be as lucky as Angstadt. Despite the 13 million people who got healthcare because of the ACA, over half the states refuse to expand Medicaid with federal money. Other court challenges could do away with the ACA in another nine states. The body count of preventable deaths in states that refuse Medicaid expansion is from 7,115 to 17,104. Opt-out states will have 712,037 more people with depression, and 240,700 more people suffering catastrophic medical expenditures. Another 422,553 people won’t get medication for diabetes, and another 443,677 women won’t get pap smears to detect cancer.

gop_obamacare_body_count

In just Rick Perry’s Texas, up to 3,000 people will needlessly die, joined by 671 from Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, 1,176 in Nathan Deal’s Georgia, 2,221 in Rick Scott’s Florida, and 1,145 in Pat McGrory’s North Carolina. These deaths can be directly tracked to the state governors and legislators.

Medicaid refusers are states that already have the lowest Medicaid benefits to working adults. These are places where people with below-poverty incomes don’t qualify for Medicaid but can’t get tax credits for coverage on the insurance exchanges. Leaders in these states condemn thousands of people to death because they refuse money from the federal government.

left out people

States even lose money by refusing federal funding. For example, Georgia refused $33 billion in Medicaid funding during the next decade and has to make up the difference of Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments. Federal funding would have meant an annual $60 million and coverage of 27,000 uninsured patients for Grady Memorial Hospital instead of a $45-million loss. A fourth rural hospital announced it was closing its doors in February after a shortage of patients who can pay their medical expenses. Savannah’s Memorial Hospital is losing about $50 million in annual subsidies. And that’s just one state out of the 25 refusing ACA funding.

The shame of these states is their refusal to help the most vulnerable—at no cost to themselves. All because of politics. The states of shame are largely those who vote Republican. And those states are the unhealthiest in the country.

uninsured

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