By Mickey Friedman
April 1, 2017
Old people are a royal pain in the ass. Even old people know this. But old people have also lived long enough to know that all people are pains in the ass.
For years the Democrats pretended to like old people. Enough to try to keep some of them alive. That’s some of what the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare if you need to blame him – tried to do. Along with trying to keep some poor people alive. It succeeded in some ways but failed in others. Mostly because it forced people to deal with insurance companies.
Paul Ryan, The Trumpster, and the Republicans decided to repeal and replace Obamacare. And give more money to the rich by again cutting their taxes.
For them, it’s about The Market. The mythical place where companies compete to drive down prices; where companies fight to provide the best possible customer service. Imagine the moment when you call your insurance company about a doctor’s bill they haven’t paid, or ask about the drug your doctor wants you to take, but they won’t pay for, or ask for that physical therapy they’ve said you don’t really need. The lady answering says: “Oh honey, I’m so sorry. We must have made a mistake. And by the way, we’re going to reduce your bill by 20%!”
That’s the imaginary Market that Paul Ryan, Dr. Tom Price, our new Secretary of Health, and The Trumpster are touting.
What with making sure the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries make tons of money – making sure their CEOs make five hundred times more money than plumbers and carpenters and teachers and waitresses – well, healthcare is pretty darn expensive.
The Trumpster knows these guys do a bang up job. Which is why Daniel Amos got his $27.97 mil a year. You think it was easy convincing that duck to say “Aflac, Aflac, Aflac.”
Ronald Williams of AETNA got a measly $30.8 mil a year. He works twenty-four hours a day and hardly has time to golf.
Ryan, Price, and The Trumpster know if you want to do right by them, and help the rich get richer you better let a bunch of old folks die. That’s Trumpcare, their American Health Care Act, AHCA.
There are young folks and old folks and the in-between; healthy people and sicker people. If you mush them all together, you can spread out the risks and your costs. Older and sicker people –kids with cancer and old folks with bad hearts – need a hell of lot more care than twenty and thirty year olds who can go years without anything worse than a bad cold. If you were an insurance company, who would you rather insure? The people who’ll pay their premiums for years without ever needing healthcare or those who’ll need doctors and drugs and maybe even surgery and hospitalization?
If for some crazy reason you believe in taking care of everybody, rich and poor alike, maybe someone like the Government should step in and make sure health care is a right. Someone to level the playing field and make sure that The Market doesn’t deny decent heath care to those who can’t spend 50% of their income on healthcare.
Obamacare offered Medicaid expansion for folks whose incomes were below 138% of the poverty levels; refundable tax credits for people with incomes from 100% to 400% of the poverty level; and cost-sharing subsidies for those whose incomes were between 100% to 250% of poverty level to provide lower deductibles and copays. Trumpcare offers assistance based not on income but age, which favors the wealthy.
Repeal and Replace is just a nifty way of saying screw the sick and the old and the poor. Cut the taxes on the wealthy that helped Obamacare expand coverage. The Republicans want to get rid of the 3.8 percent tax on investment income, like capital gains, and a 0.9 percent surcharge on the Medicare taxes that individuals who made more than $200,000 a year, or married couples who earn more than $250,000 a year had to pay. Get rid of those, and you don’t have the money to provide for those Obamacare helped.
Under Obamacare, insurers can’t charge old folks more than three times than what they charge the young. Trumpcare would allow them to charge five times more.
Dr. James Madara, CEO of the conservative American Medical Association – 220,000 doctors – wrote “we cannot support the AHCA as drafted because of the expected decline in health insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations”
But repealing those Obamacare taxes will save the wealthy between up to $20 billion a year. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that as a result between 14 to 24 million Americans will lose their health insurance. For Ryan, Price and The Trumpster, that’s a victory. For the old and sick, it might be easier to drop dead.
“Drop Dead” first appeared in the March 23, 2017 issue of The Berkshire Record.
Mickey Friedman’s Berkshire-based I Ching mysteries, “Danger” and “Folly”, as well as his non-fiction “A Red Family” are available on Amazon.com.
For more information:
“These 3 Powerful Groups Are Slamming the GOP’s Obamacare Replacement Plan”
“Millions Risk Losing Health Insurance in Republican Plan, Analysts Say”