|The GOP's Millionaire Tax Cutting--Planned Parenthood Defunding--Medicare Gutting Health Plan
A lot of names have been bandied about for the proposed Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act – TrumpCare (but I’m sure Trump knows nothing about it), RyanCare (but Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) doesn’t care about anyone), and WealthCare (accurate), but I’m going with RepubliCare as this bill provides a true reflection of the belief system of the GOP.
In RepubliCare (officially the “American Health Care Act”), the Republicans do not even attempt to solve the complicated challenges of a national health care policy. The bill is an amalgamation of 10 years of Paul Ryan’s letters to Santa. Tax cuts for the very wealthy, punishments for the poor, restrictions on women’s health, and more money for health care executives – Paul was a very good boy this year.
I’ll do my best to summarize the lowlights of this plan, which the Brookings Institute estimates will cause 15 million people to lose their insurance. I’ll answer your most urgent question though first. Yes, the bill addresses the greatest health care challenge of our day - getting lottery winners off of Medicare. 10% of the bill’s pages are dedicated to this scourge (seriously).
Here we go:
Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
Provides estimated $600 billion in tax cuts over the next 10 years - Sounds great, right? Well, before you get too excited, check your pay stub to see if you one of the 400 highest earners in the country. Here’s the breakdown of the tax break benefits as estimated by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
Restrictions on Women’s Health
- If you earn < $200k: you get nothing and like it!
- $200k - $500k: $510 tax break
- $500k - $1 million: $4,700 tax break
- >$1 million: $54,130 tax break
- Top 400 earners: $7 million tax break
Makes Planned Parenthood ineligible to receive Medicare reimbursement - Trump allegedly offered Planned Parenthood that it could keep its access to federal reimbursements if it stopped offering abortions (which by the way, federal funds are already not allowed to be used for abortions - this act threatens to take funding for all of the much needed medical care Planned Parenthood provides). PP declined to give into Trump's threat.
Forces insurance companies to not cover abortions - Under RepubliCare, Federal subsidies could not be used to purchase a health insurance plan that covers abortion. Therefore there would likely not be any insurance plans that cover abortion.
Punishments for Poor People
Allows insurance companies to increase premiums as punishment – The plan would eliminate the mandate that you buy insurance. However, if you have a gap in coverage for more than 63 days, because say, you’re poor or you lost your job, the insurance companies can charge you 30% more for your premium for a year. So instead of paying a penalty to the government for not having insurance, you now pay the insurance companies. Yeah!
Eliminates Medicare expansion – A primary reason so many more people were covered by the ACA was the expansion of Medicare to the nation's poorest. The expansion was paid for by the aforementioned taxes on the rich. Since the GOP can't wait to give that money back to the rich people, we need to take the Medicare away from the poor.
Replaces insurance subsidies with tax credits – Under the ACA, health insurance subsidies were tied to your premium and your income. So if premiums went up (or your income went down), your subsidies went up. Under the GOP plan, you would get a flat tax credit. When premiums go up, good luck.
Punishments for Everyone
Rates should skyrocket – The GOP plan would eliminate the individual mandate to buy insurance, which would cause a big adverse selection problem. Without the mandate and its associated tax penalty, young, healthy people may decide en masse not to buy insurance. However, when they leave, only the sick will remain. With only the sick in the insurance pool, premiums will shoot up.
Eliminates requirement that Medicaid cover mental-health and addiction services – Good news though is Trump signed a bill to make it easier for the mentally ill to get guns.
Increases allowed premiums for older customers – Under the ACA, insurers can only charge older customers 3x as much as younger ones. The GOP proposes to increase that to 5x. The AARP estimated that the elimination of subsidies combined with this allowed increase, would mean a 64 year-old earning $15,000/year could see annual premiums up to $8,400 under RepubliCare.
Breaks for Big Business
Reinstates tax breaks for health care company executive pay – The ACA capped the amount of executive compensation that health care companies could deduct on their taxes. The GOP plan recognizes this tragedy and would eliminate the cap and take away $400 million in revenue for the country.
Eliminates requirement that businesses with over 49 employees provide insurance - Since we cling to the odd concept that people access health plans through their employer, the ACA required employers to offer health plans. A logical solution to an illogical problem. RepubliCare does away with this requirement, leaving many to see what, if anything, they can find and afford on the open market.
Paul Ryan is trying to pass the bill at breakneck speed, hoping to get Trump’s signature on it by mid-April. Ryan spent the past 7 years complaining that President Obama jammed the ACA down Republican throats with a . . . 14-month approval process. The bill has already passed two committees. The alleged fiscally conservative party voted on the bill without even waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to provide a cost and coverage estimate.
The good news is that Paul Ryan’s incompetence may be the one thing that unites this country. Democrats, the AARP, the American Medical Association, and the American Hospital Association are unified against it since they think the bill is terrible. Conservative congressional Republicans and conservative think tanks are speaking out against it because they think it’s too generous. Apparently, they would like more people to go bankrupt and/or die to give more tax cuts to rich people. Regardless, this version of the bill will likely not make its way to Trump’s desk (I hope).
Quotes from This Week’s GOP Health Care Plan
Paul Ryan on being evil
Fox News host Tucker Carlson: It’s kind of a hard sell to say, ‘Yeah, we’re going to repeal Obamacare, but we’re going to send more money to the people who have already gotten the richest over these last 10 years.’
Ryan: I’m not that concerned about it, because we said we were going to repeal all the Obamacare taxes and this is one of the Obamacare taxes.
Paul Ryan showing he doesn’t understand what insurance is
Ryan: The whole idea of Obamacare is...the people who are healthy pay for the...sick.
Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) proving that he’s a worse person than Paul Ryan and has no idea how much medical care costs
Chaffetz: 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 want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own healthcare.
Representative Ron DeSantis (R-FL) explains what the uninsured should do if they get cancer
DeSantis: If people really need [cancer treatment], they show up to the emergency room. They do get care, it just gets passed on to other folks.
CNN host Erin Burnett: But she had $1 million in cancer treatments. You’re not going to get that by showing up in an emergency room.
Representative John Shimkus (R-IL) lets Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA) know what he finds truly objectionable in Obamacare and human reproduction
Doyle: What mandate in the Obamacare bill does [Shimkus] take issue with?
Shimkus: What about men having to purchase prenatal care? Is that not correct? And should they?
Representative Dr.(!) Roger Marshall (R-KS) enlightens us as to what Jesus would do (spoiler alert: Jesus would apparently take away health care from the poor since they don’t appreciate it)
Marshall: Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us.’ There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves . . . a group of people that even with unlimited access to health care are only going to use the emergency room when their arm is chopped off.
On MSNBC later, Reverend William Barber had a reply to Marshall’s interpretation of scripture: Jesus, if He did anything, provided free health care.
|Some People Just Want to Watch the World Burn
EPA Administrator Scott “Mr. Heat Miser” Pruitt said he doesn’t believe human generated CO2 is a primary contributor to global warming. I looked it up and he is shockingly correct. The primary source of warming is the vast hot air coming from his mouth.
A counter argument to the Head of the EPA is . . . the EPA website, which states "Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change . . . [I]t is extremely likely that human activities have been the dominant cause of that warming."
However, if you just looked that up, don’t hit refresh on your browser as that statement may be gone soon. The EPA Office of Science and Technology just deleted that controversial word “science” from its mission statement on its webpage. Previously, the webpage stated that the OST was “responsible for developing sound, science based standards.” Now its focus is on whatever the opposite of pushing the envelope is (sealing the envelope?) to “[develop] national economically and technologically achievable performance standards.”
Joining science on the endangered species list is also the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. With Trump’s eye focused on closing it, the Office’s head Mustafa Ali, who founded the office over 20 years ago, resigned this week.
I See a Red Dawn A-Rising
This week on As the Tяump Turns:
- We found out that former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn was paid more than $500k to lobby for the Turkish government during Trump's presidential campaign and transition. Yep, he attended U.S. intelligence briefings while employed by another country. Imagine what would be happening right now if Hillary Clinton was President and her friend and adviser, Huma Abedin, was taking money from a majority Muslim country and Hillary knew about it.
- In October, the Russian ambassador who had met with Flynn and Attorney General Jefferson Sessions during the Presidential campaign, denied meeting with any Trump campaign officials. For some reason, everyone is denying that these meetings took place.
- Former Trump campaign advisor and long-time evil doer Roger Stone admitted this past week that he had communicated with the Russian hackers of the DNC in August. During the campaign, Stone also mentioned he had a back-channel to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and that Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails would be leaked (they were leaked soon after).
- The FBI is investigating an “odd” computer link between Alfa Bank (a Russian bank) and a Trump Organization server. The Alfa Bank computer represented 80% of all lookups on that Trump server. I honestly don’t understand what exactly that means, but here’s an article from someone who does. It seems that no human or machine can enter into Trump’s sphere and not find a way to get connected to Russia.
A Ban by any Other Name Would Still be Anti-Muslim – Trump released his revised travel ban on Monday. Iraq is now off of double secret probation, but people from Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, and Libya are facing a 90-day visa processing suspension. Also, the U.S. refugee program is still suspended for 120 days, but Syrians are no longer banned until the end of time. Although, with Trump, the end of time could be less than 120 days anyways. Hawaii was the first state to file a legal challenge to the ban. Six other states, Washington, Maryland, Oregon, New York, Massachusetts, and Minnesota, came together to form a Voltron lawyer and jointly pursue Trump.
Fox and Trump’s Only Friends – Trump’s primary source of information seems to be TV cable news, which would be horrifying for any person, let alone the President. The Washington Post did a fantastic analysis of Trump responding on Twitter in real time to the Fox News morning program, "Fox & Friends".
Now Showing: Gattaca – Next on the Republican dystopia movie checklist is Gattaca. A Republican-sponsored bill is making its way through Congress that will allow companies to require you take a genetic test and give them your results.
Dr. Fingerscrossed - This week’s horrific state-level bill comes from deep in the cold dark heart of Texas. A Senate Committee approved with an 8-0 vote that doctors can withhold information from women about the status of their fetus. If the child is born with a deformity or defect, the parents cannot sue the doctor for, you know, intentionally lying to them.
I Object – Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked all 46 remaining U.S. Attorneys who were appointed by the Obama Administration to resign. While suddenly telling all the attorneys to leave without having replacements selected is highly unusual, the big news was that Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, refused to resign. So he was fired. Trump had told Bharara in November that he could stay on in the new administration. What changed? Could it be that Trump found out that Bhara had busted a Russian spy ring last year and that in 2013 Putin barred him from Russia? Maybe. Could it be that Fox News’s sentient cabbage Sean Hannity told Trump two days ago to purge all Obama appointees? Perhaps. Could it be that Bharara was investigating Fox News because of the terms of its sexual harassment settlements? Getting warm. Could it be that last week three watchdog groups asked Bharara to investigate whether Trump has received payments or other benefits from foreign governments? I think we have a winner!
Someone is a Breaking Bad Fan – Steve Bannon left $14,000 of damage in a Florida home he rented in 2105. One of the reasons cited by the landlord was, “[E]ntire Jacuzzi bathtub seems to have been covered in acid.” Get that man a bucket of Los Pollos Hermanos.
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An interesting twitter thread from a man who found out what his female coworker experiences every day.