Tag Archives: Obamacare

Rod Blum’s Terrible, No Good Couple of Days in the Cedar Valley

Rod Blum is having a terrible time here in the Cedar Valley the past couple of days.  Hot on the heels of his miserable performance in an interview with my new hero Josh Scheinblum where he stormed off after being asked a question about campaign contributions, the congressman for the 1st district held town halls in Cedar Rapids and Cedar Falls.  Things went about as well as anyone could have hoped.

In Cedar Rapids the crowd was primed to ask lots of questions about health care and ask they did.  You can see the highlights of the town hall here. The gist of things is that people are unhappy that Rod Blum voted for a health care overhaul that was pushed through congress without a score by the CBO, without any substantial hearings, and without any substantial public comment.

Remember, Paul Ryan—the beady eyed leader of this gang—criticized the passage of the Affordable Care Act for all the same reasons even though that process took a year.  I guess that Republicans were just all too giddy to screw people over.  Just look at the happiness in Jason Chaffetz’s face as he comes back from surgery on a pre-existing condition to gut your health care:

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His heart is racing with the possibility that now is the time he gets to put his big boy pants on and really screw over some little people.  Gotta’ get more tax cuts for the millionaires and billionaires who make the Republicans go.

Back to our embattled congressman Rod Blum.  Things went even worse for Blum in Cedar Falls.  Seeking to placate the crowd he told them how he did not agree with the process of passing the bill before knowing the costs.  Instead of voting against the bill, which a single vote from any Republican would have killed the passage, he vote for the bill.  Nothing shows how resistant you are to something like voting for its passage.

Rod Blum does not represent the first district of Iowa.  Hell, he does not represent the state of Iowa or any of our interests.  He represents Rod Blum and the people who pay to keep him in Washington D.C.  Who is that?  Outside groups like American Action Network spent big to keep him in office.  Who is the American Action Network?  It’s a dark money front founded by Norm Coleman, the former Republican senator from Minnesota who lost to Al Franken.

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Life is a Pre-Existing Condition

Afford me a moment to ramble about health insurance and pre-existing conditions.

My mother died from terminal lung cancer almost eight years ago.  She fought her disease with a fierceness and dignity that I find almost unimaginable.  The greatest insult during her entire ordeal was with her health insurance.

After more than two years of purchasing a health care policy on the individual market in pre-Obamacare days she was denied coverage when she was diagnosed with lung cancer.  The functionary on the phone told my father that her cancer was a pre-existing condition.  It was as if they were telling him that she waited to get diagnosed with cancer after more than two years of paying premiums.  As if she waited to deal with her cancer because…reasons?

My mother probably started her path toward lung cancer taking her first drag of a cigarette as a sixteen year old in East Moline Illinois in the 1960s.  Based on health insurance company logic she had a pre-existing condition going back almost forty years.

In truth, we all have a pre-existing condition.  We are alive and we will die.  This might be a little bit of hyperbole, but after dealing with health insurance companies I do not feel that anything is beyond the pale.  When you are at your lowest these people will step on your throat.  When you have lost family members these people will drop a letter detailing their refusal to honor the policy you dutifully paid upon for two years.  These are the people that Republicans in the House of Representatives have sided with instead of actual human beings.

If you think that things will be fine you need to wake the fuck up.  Health insurance companies will drop your ass from your policy for any of the following reasons:

 

  • Breast cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Pregnancy or expectant parent
  • A Cesarean delivery
  • Being a survivor of domestic violence
  • Medical treatment for sexual assault
  • Mental disorders (severe, e.g., bipolar, eating disorder)
  • AIDS/HIV
  • Lupus
  • Alcohol abuse/drug abuse with recent treatment
  • Alzheimer’s/dementia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Arthritis (rheumatoid), fibromyalgia, other inflammatory joint disease
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Any cancer within some period of time (e.g., 10 years, often other than basal skin cancer)
  • Obesity, severe
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Organ transplant
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Paraplegia
  • Coronary artery/heart disease, bypass surgery
  • Paralysis
  • Crohn’s disease/ ulcerative colitis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)/emphysema
  • Pending surgery or hospitalization
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Pneumocystic pneumonia
  • Epilepsy
  • Hemophilia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Hepatitis (hep C)
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease, renal failure
  • Transsexualism

That’s right, if you survived an abusive domestic situation you have a pre-existing condition for which a health insurance company could deny you coverage.  Born with cerebal palsy?  Hell, that is almost the definition of pre-existing condition in the eyes of a health insurance company.  Paul Ryan came for your health care and he succeeded.

So, basically Republicans want to punish us for having the gall to live and to expect more than a Hobbesian existence.   The ethos in Republican circles is “Fuck you if you are not rich and powerful.”

Paul Ryan came for your health care.  Paul Ryan is coming for your retirement.

Paul Ryan is a Smug S.O.B.

Shortly after barely passing a bill to repeal critical elements of the Affordable Care Act House Republicans boarded some busses and headed to the White House for a celebration with their new spirit animal Donald Trump.

In the glow of potentially taking health care away from tens of millions of people and throwing the entire system into disarray Paul Ryan could not be happier with himself:

President Trump Speaks At The White House After The House Voted On Health Care Bill

Notice something else about the image?  Yeah, it’s filled with middle aged to elderly white men.  Based on the average net worth of Congress these are also men who make significantly more money than the rest of the United States.  We wonder why these asshats do not pass legislation that actually helps people?

Paul Ryan has come for your health care.  Paul Ryan is going to come for your retirement.  Paul Ryan’s goal is nothing short of a radical departure from more than eight decades of progress in the name of some ideological wet dream he had in college.

Also, these no talent ass clowns celebrated their big victory by wheeling in coolers of Bud Light.  Nothing says American celebration like a lame ass beer brewed by a Brazilian company.

Did Rod Blum Get a Spine?

Thursday is apparently the day when Paul Ryan, the anointed intellectual godfather of the right wing in Congress, and Donald Trump, otherwise known as a Russian stooge at this point, are going to put the American Health Care Act to a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.

According to members of the Freedom Caucus, a right wing group of Tea Party conservatives, the bill does not have the votes.  According to Donald Trump, the self-styled ultimate closer and dealmaker who somehow went bankrupt in the casino business, the bill is going to pass because…um, Obamacare bad.  Seriously, that is the logic at this point.

What about Iowa’s first district Congressman Rod Blum?  Normally, his vote is in line with Paul Ryan and the stooges because Rod Blum is a nothing member of the House.  Really, take a moment and try and find any legislation the guy has authored or fought for in any way that is substantive.  Take a moment and try to find a hearing where he was a forceful contributor.  I will be here waiting for your reply.

The guy will not meet with his constituents, but according to his own Twitter account he is not going to support the bill.  Blum adds the important caveat “in its current form” which allows him the wiggle room to vote yes if some inconsequential change is made and he can go home without being called a spineless liar.

I will not hold my breath expecting him to be an actual no vote when the arm twisting is done, but stranger things have happened.

The Right Wing Health Care Shell Game

Republicans in Congress, with the House leading the charge under the guidance of Paul Ryan, are conducting a great game of three card Monte with the American public.

The proposed American Health Care Act is a joke.  It’s like Diet Obamacare and everyone with half a brain understands that fact.  It is also the type of bill that is so neutered yet destructive enough that it is finding strange bedfellows in opposition like the entirety of the Democrats in Congress and Rand Paul.  If you ever thought Rand Paul would be a dissenting vote on Republicans’ attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act raise your hand?

Now the spin begins.  Republicans and Donald Trump are trying to sell the idea that the goal is cheaper health insurance.  This is a farce because cheaper health insurance generally does not cover any health care.  If something is cheaper it usually means one of two things: someone else is picking up the tab or you are getting less coverage.  It is a zero sum game.

Under the Affordable Care Act the federal government was subsidizing your health insurance if you were so qualified to receive subsidies on the individual market.  Under the American Health Care Act you will just receive less coverage.  “But it is cheaper!” Paul Ryan will scream with Ayn Rand-esque shrillness.  Yes, just like a regular cab rear wheel drive F-150 is less expensive than a crew cab four wheel drive F-150.  Both trucks are F-150s, but one is cheaper because it has less content.  Everyone understands why those two trucks are priced differently and people will understand why health insurance is cheaper under Paul Ryan’s plan when they discover it covers no actual health care.

Thankfully, after seven years of claiming to work on a replacement for Obamacare and despite Donald Trump’s promise of amazing coverage for everyone Republicans have shown their utter lack of vision and leadership on the issue by producing a piece of crap bill.  Furthermore, provisions in the bill that would be windfalls to multi-millionaire CEOs and other rich people just show who the paymaster of the Republican Party really is in 2017.

Paul Ryan is Coming for Your Health Care

Paul Ryan, the wunderkind of the right wing, finally saw fit to release his proposed “replacement” for the Affordable Care Act.  Let me sum it up for you:

  1. If you relied on the individual market or Medicaid for health coverage you will get less. According to Paul Ryan you will like it because the free market will warm your insides with the fiery glow of Ayn Rand’s ridiculous ideology.
  2. If you relied on Planned Parenthood for any health services you are screwed because Paul Ryan hates Planned Parenthood. This is red meat thrown to a conservative base that might have a hard time supporting the bill, but can now hide behind the fact that it defunds Planned Parenthood.  Imagine the member of Congress going back to angry constituents, “I realize you are getting less health care, paying more, and even being denied coverage but we defunded evil Planned Parenthood.”  Look for this to be Ted Cruz’s defense when the human blobfish eventually goes along with passage.
  3. If you are wealthy you like this bill. Why?  You will pay less in taxes.  It is the right wing salve for the soul.  Got an HAS?  You will get to sock away more money under this plan.  The problem with this part of the plan is that poor people are living paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford to fund an HAS for future health obligations.
  4. The bill keeps the popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act that deal with keeping your children on your insurance until age 26 among others, but I suspect that these provisions will be weakened or removed entirely as the bill works its way through committee and reconciliation assuming it gets that far in the process.

Republicans do not understand how people actually live.  Asshats like Jason Chaffetz subscribe to the old Ronald Reagan “Cadillac driving welfare queen” when saying bullshit like this:

Americans have choices. And they’ve got to make a choice. And so maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions themselves.

This is the first shot in a war that Paul Ryan intends to fight over the government providing any sort of assistance to anyone other than the rich and corporations.  Remember, Paul Ryan only has eyes for…

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Having “Access” to Health Insurance is the Latest Right Wing Bait and Switch

Over the next few weeks you are going to hear a lot of right wing talking heads spout off about ensuring “access to health insurance” in whatever plan they happen to be promoting at the time.  However, access to health insurance is not the same thing as being able to obtain health insurance.

Bear with a thought exercise for a moment.  Everyone in the United States has access to a Chevrolet Corvette.  However, only a small percentage of the population of the United States can actually afford a Chevrolet Corvette.  Access does not equal the ability to obtain.

The example is facetious and it does not go far enough.  No one needs a Chevrolet Corvette for transportation when a Chevrolet Sonic will do just fine in most cases.  Yes, it is a completely different car but it provides basic transportation.  Again, a large segment of the population cannot obtain a Chevrolet Sonic even though they have access.

Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act millions of Americans were denied access to health care based on pre-existing conditions.  Now, Republicans are likely to not totally scrap the prohibition of denial based on pre-existing conditions but it is likely to be modified in a way that benefits health insurance companies in denying you coverage.  Therefore, Republicans will have preserved “access to health insurance.”  See, they are looking out for the little guy.  Aren’t you relieved?

Beyond accessibility is the issue of affordability.  Under the current system, which again is defined by the Affordable Care Act, health insurance for lower income individuals is subsidized.  Makes less money and you qualify for a larger subsidy.  According to Republican logic this is evil.

Under Republican plans the current menu of subsidies would disappear and be replaced with…you got it, tax credits.  These tax credits are not based on income, but age so even if you are rich you get the same tax credit as someone who is poor.  Furthermore, these tax credits will do nothing for the segment of the population that cannot afford health insurance and does not pay taxes because they make too little income.

Make no mistake that the right wing of the right wing, known to most in Washington D.C. as the so-called “Freedom Caucus,” will probably support none of this tax credit nonsense.  The reasoning will be a word salad including the terms “socialism, communism, fascism, Obama, market based solutions, capitalism, Ronald Reagan, America, freedom, and Jesus.”  You can feel free to rearrange the words to match whatever particular politician from the Republican Party happens to be speaking.

In practice this means that whatever mechanism to ensure affordability that survives the gauntlet of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul will likely be so meaningless as to make health insurance as unaffordable as it was prior to the Affordable Care Act.  Therefore, “access to health insurance” has been limited because affordability is central to accessibility.  Do not fall for this madness.

Under Republican plans prices for plans will go up, the ability of health insurance companies to screw you over will increase, and the ability of people to actually afford health insurance will erode considerably.  However, you will have “access to health insurance” and that should make you feel all warm inside as you read that dog eared copy of Atlas Shrugged.