Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Response to The Price of Price

Though he did not discuss healthcare and entitlement policies frequently, Trump insisted several times that he would protect programs serving vulnerable Americans. 
“I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican, and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” Trump said last year ...
How many Trumpists will suffer buyer’s remorse, once they realize their hero is hiring Georgia Congressman Tom Price, a guy who wants to get rid of all that, to be his Health and Human Services secretary, in charge of running all that?

And by the way, why does everyone assume that Trump voters were on Obamacare when they voted, and will now lose their coverage? I always assumed they weren’t, and, therefore, won’t.

Who’s right? I don’t know. Maybe none of us do, probably because the so-called “Lying Media” never seemed to ask Trump supporters for a show of hands of those on Obamacare. And nor did anyone, at least that I know of, ask Trump if he even believed in universal healthcare, or whether those 20-million folks will lose coverage when he replaces Obamacare, or if he planned on “replacing” Obamacare with a Medicare-like single-payer program.

I suspect one reason nobody asked him any of that was because they saw no point, since everyone assumed he wasn’t going to win anyway.

And so millions of Americans lost their jobs to the George Bush economy, even as billionaires got even richer from it, and in response, Americans elect a billionaire for president, and he hires other billionaires to run the country. The reasoning? I guess it's that all these rich people were so successful in keeping our share of the recovery gains, we should hire them to, what, do the same on our behalf? I mean, it's not that they need the work!

Which is to say that, Trump or no Trump, Republican politicians will continue to know exactly how to exploit America’s blind spots. Take, for example, the case of Tom Price:
Price, like House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), advocates replacing the government-provided Medicare health plan with a program that provides seniors with a voucher to purchase private health coverage. 
This system, which supporters call premium support, saves the federal government money by gradually shifting costs onto beneficiaries, independent budget analyses have shown.
So apparently, the plan is to save federal government healthcare money by gradually not spending any of it! What a stroke of genius!
Price also advocates a new system of block grants to states that would sharply cut federal aid for Medicaid, which primarily serves poor Americans.
So as I understand this, instead of us paying for your medical bills, we give you a coupon worth a couple of thousand dollars you can use to pay any medical bills that might come up — and, by the way, although healthcare costs would probably increase, the vouchers would not, so as years go by, this program would eventually just go poof!

And the reason I say “would” instead of “will” is that, like George Bush Jr's assuming his reelection victory gave him a mandate to “privatize" Social Security (which he tried to soft-pedal by, mid-stream, substituting the term “ownership society” for “privatize”), and just as Americans rejected his plan in droves, they will likely do the same if Price tries that trick with Medicare.

At some point, Bush realized that the public, 77% of whom just last year said that Medicare is a “very important” program, sees the word “privatize”, in reference to public programs, as another word for “abolish” — as well they should! — and I’m pretty sure present-day Republicans are about to learn that same lesson.

As for "block grants" to states to replace Medicaid — in which the feds say to the states, “Here, take this money! Go buy yourself something nice!” — about two-thirds in that same 2015 poll said they value Medicaid for the needy, too, so I hope Price and Ryan (and, indeed, Trump, if he goes along with their ideas) get their heads handed to them.

And if not, and all American public healthcare, including Medicare, bites the dust? Then we all might as well just move to Costa Rica, where it will no longer matter that our Medicare can’t be used anyway.

I really don’t understand the appeal of all this “populism” stuff — which, when you think about it, is just a lynch mob impersonating democracy. Maybe we are now entering an era in which Americans finally learn why you shouldn’t send away for all that seemingly-cool garbage they see on late-night TV, after which maybe we can go back to trusting our government to the professionals who know how to do it.

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