Senate shenanigans

While we have been dealing with our own family health issues, I have also been keeping my eye on the sorry spectacle unfolding in Congress.

Last week, the Senate Republicans made public their version of a health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. It was drafted by a small group of the most conservative male red-state Republican Senators, without hearings, public debate, the input of health care experts, and contributions of the other 87 Senators, who are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

The bill would cut Medicaid over time, raise deductibles, decrease the comprehensive nature of insurance, increase premiums, make insurance unaffordable for millions of people, and give massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.  It faces major opposition from doctors, nurses, hospitals, insurers, public health organizations and advocates, and the general public.

Still, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans a vote on the bill this week. It seems that the main reason is to have the first major piece of legislation enacted in the new administration, not to actually improve medical care access or affordability for the American people.

One of the things that has been most annoying is the Republican members of Congress and some pundits and reporters who equate the current process on this healthcare bill to the process that produced the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act was passed after almost a year of public discussion, numerous Congressional committee hearings, expert testimony, amendments from both Democrats and Republicans, Congressional debate, floor votes, the creation of a bill to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions, and a final round of voting with met the 60 vote total in the Senate to avoid filibuster.

Contrast this with the current Republican bill, which was written behind closed doors by a small group of Republicans. There are no hearings, plans for only limited debate, and the invocation of budget bill rules which make it impossible to filibuster.

There are two Republican Senators who are opposing the bill because it will hurt their constituents and other Americans. Four other Senators oppose it as not conservative enough. After the Congressional Budget Office analysis came out yesterday, with projections of 22 million people losing coverage and costs skyrocketing especially for those with low incomes and those who are in their late fifties to mid-sixties. there is hope that Senator McConnell will pull the bill or, at least, slow down the process to allow for more debate and revision and to put the bill under regular order instead of trying to reform healthcare through the budget process.

Many of us are inundating our Senators with pleas to protect and improve our healthcare. We’ll see if they listen.

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Author: Joanne Corey

Please come visit my eclectic blog, Top of JC's Mind. You can never be sure what you'll find!

10 thoughts on “Senate shenanigans”

    1. True. While I prefer single-payer, at least the public option would mean that no county would be left without any insurance provider. Here in NYS, there is a robust market on the state exchange, but some states, especially in rural areas have only one private insurance company available and some will probably have none next year, due to the uncertainty that the current administration and Congress have caused.

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  1. It’s so discouraging, Joanne! I was fully engaged in the on-going process of the ACA and know it was a step in the right direction to solving the chaos in healthcare. Everyone was involved in that with the exception of Republicans who did nothing but criticize, spread false information and sabotage. Now they’ve shown their true colors by coming up with nothing of substance. Thanks for passing on facts about this fiasco. 😦
    http://www.meinthemiddlewrites.com

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    1. Thanks for your advocacy, Mary Lou. We are trying to keep the pressure on Congress to improve the ACA rather than wreck the system that has provided healthcare to so many millions. I can barely believe that some are now calling for repeal without immediate replacement, the same thinking that brought us the budget sequester.

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  2. I have a real problem with this Joanne. I have read a couple of your post and thought I would post my comment here. I do not know if you will post this or not but let me clue you in on some things regarding Obama Care.

    I have a friend who had a kidney transplant. Her insurance was 1400.00 with a 500.00 deductible. After Obama care her insurance went up to 2000.00 a month with a 12,000.00 deductible. She also lost her doctor. So that is 19,200.00 dollars more she has pay a year before Obama care will even kick in.

    See she is like the rest of us and has grown accustomed to eating and paying her bills, which is nearly impossible now because of the precious Obama care.

    So what do we do with these people? Let them die because they cannot afford Obama care???? Who represented them in the previous administration? Nobody!!! That’s who? Of course those in the government of Obama care would just as soon she go on Medicaid, which she is not going to do!!! She does not want nor desire the government in her life in any form or fashion. Many people don’t, but I guess we do not need to be “represented.”

    Now let’s go to the elderly. My Dad, 86. Never took a dime from the government and he and Mom raised us kids. Had a nice SS check until Obama care. Oh he got his 20.00 yearly raise, but because of his secondary insurance premiums, from dear old Obama care, he makes about 60.00 dollars a month less. That is 720.00 less a year he has to live on. Who is fighting for these elderly?

    I have a neighbor who is 83 who had to go to work to get his teeth fixed. Why? Obama care premiums, shrunk is income for him and his wife.

    Another friend on disability check went down 10.00. 140.00 per year. That was a week’s worth of groceries for her. Maybe her phone bill. Fill up her car for a month. Obama care gave it on one end and took it off on the other and it does not take rocket science to figure that out!!!

    Who represented these people in the Obama administration, Joanne? Many including myself and my husband had to pay the fine, because we could not afford it. We went for two years without insurance and thank God, we were able to stay away from the doctor. The whole time the government was taking 700.00 a year from us. We could not afford the insurance so just take 700.00 more dollars away from us. That makes sense. I would have 1400.00 more today if it were not for Obama care. Many people in the United States had to do this.

    See there is a set of people in this nation called “middle class” America. Though silent we made our voice heard at the poles. We represented ourselves. We represented the people I have spoken about in my above statements.

    Your party does not represent every single person in this nation. I do not even give a flip about that. I do care about the people.

    We were in business for ourselves. Under Bush our taxes were 25% of our income. By the time Obama left our taxes were 33.333% of our income.

    Let us not forget Benghazi. Who represented them Joanne? Who represented their families? To this day that sticks in my stomach like a hard rock. They needed help from Hillary Clinton. Nothing!!! AND THEY DIED!!!!! Do you look at their families and say, “Oh I am so sorry.” “Tough luck.”

    As far as this climate change mess. How do you explain the flood in the Bible? How do you explain the Ice Age? Where were all the cars and factories then, causing it? The earth has changed in climate since the beginning of time. Cattle, goats, sheep and all animals have roamed the earth, using the bathroom on it.

    What are we supposed to do with the animals because they poop on the ground? Put a diaper on them? Good luck with that on a bull the size of a boat!

    We spoke up Joanne, not because we were Republican nor Democrat. We spoke up because we got tired of those who thought they represented every single American, and only represented their own agenda’s. We spoke up because we think for ourselves. We are free thinkers and do not want anyone telling us how to live our lives, raise our kids, what we can and cannot say, and none of us want the government in our personal lives any more than it has to be. We want the right to choose our own insurance, with a payment and deductible that is affordable, like we had before Obama care. Who is anyone to tell me I did not have good insurance. Yes, I did Joanne! Obama care took it away from my personal life, and I did not give them, you, or anyone else permission to do so.

    I have the right to freedom in this nation, the right to choose, and the right to think for my own self. To make my own living and maintain my life, health, and anything else I want to for as long as I can. I do not need the government to make these decisions for me. God gave me a brain.

    I know there are those who are disabled. For them I want them to have all they deserve. What should of been done in this whole mess, was to set up something for them and leave the rest of us ALONE!!! I don’t need you to speak nor think for me Joanne or anyone else for that matter. That is the point the whole bunch of you are missing.

    So if you want the government to represent “ALL” people, you have to include us too!!! God Bless, SR

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    1. Thank you for your comment, SR.

      First, a clarification. I am not a member of any political party and vote for the candidates that most closely align with my ideals, which are largely informed by my commitment to the principles of Catholic social justice doctrine and my long-ago education in civics.

      I am very sorry for the health insurance problems that you and your friends and family have encountered. I expect that you are all in states that do not have a state marketplace and expansion of Medicaid, as the ACA was designed to have. I live in a low-income area of my state which does have its own marketplace and, because of Medicaid expansion and federal premium subsidies, people here have access to affordable premiums and often have low or no deductibles. There are definitely things that can be improved, but the Republicans who control Congress thus far have not allowed any ACA reform bills to come to the floor over the past 6+ years.

      Social Security and Medicare are government programs. So are our roads, rail system, schools and many other services we use on a regular basis. I don’t understand why people should be willing to receive benefits from them, but feel that receiving benefits from Medicaid is wrong. I firmly believe that our government is established by “We the People” to “promote the general welfare” as it says in the Preamble to the Constitution. I feel it is my duty as a citizen to pay my taxes, to vote, and to be involved in voicing my opinions to my local, state, and national representatives. I feel that our national representatives should represent all of us, whatever our age, socioeconomic status, religious convictions, etc., and am distressed by those in both parties who seem to think they only represent the people who voted for them.

      Some of the problems that you describe are not related to plans that come from the ACA insurance exchange. The deductibles and out of pocket expenses you mention are higher than is allowed for ACA marketplace plans, so I am expecting that plan, like Medicare supplement plans, is offered through private insurance, not through the government or the exchange. This means that a good chunk of those exorbitant fees are going to high-paid executives and stock holders, not to paying for health care for their customers. That is one of the reasons that I wish the US would go to a single payer system, as most other economically advanced countries have. Doctors and patients decide on treatment and send the bill to the government health agency, which reimburses using tax money. Because the taxes are based on income, most people would pay less in higher tax than they pay now for premiums, deductibles, and co-pays and everyone is covered. As it stands now, the US spends more per person on health care than any other country, even though some people have no coverage at all. For me personally, I am concerned that the lack of universal health care violates human dignity and our call to love our neighbor, as well as our stated national goal to promote the general welfare.

      I would also love our health care plans to cover dental, vision, and hearing care, but our private insurance market did not evolve that way.

      As an American, I truly honor all those who serve our country in the armed forces and the diplomatic services. They go into dangerous places. Benghazi was a tragic attack on an American consulate. Multiple investigations showed, though, that Sec. Clinton was not at fault. Congress controls the State Department budget; had they allocated more funding, perhaps security would have been stronger.

      Current climate change issues do not have any relationship to ice ages, floods, animals, etc. Those are all part of normal variations. Current greenhouse gas levels are unnaturally high because Industrial Era humans have added extra carbon to the system and destabilized it. This is another area where my faith is important. I believe that we are called to care for God’s creation, with particular care for the most vulnerable. One of my favorite resources on this is “On Care for Our Common Home” by Pope Francis.

      I in no way deny your right to think and speak for yourself. I did, however, want to thoughtfully respond to you and try to clarify my own viewpoint. Thank you for reading and commenting, SR.

      Respectfully, JC

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  3. Sorry, but I meant to ask you this. Are you or any of the Senators who voted for Obama care going to reach inside their pockets and give my friend her 19,200.00 a year she needs to keep her insurance. Are you or any of the Senators who voted for Obama care going to give my Dad his 720.00 that was taken away? Are you or any of the Senators who voted for Obama care going to give me my their 1400.00 back? Are you or any of the Senators who voted for Obama care going to give my neighbor their money back so at 83 he does not have to work and get his teeth fixed? Are you or any of the Senators who voted for Obama care going to give my other friend back her 140.00 a year? Hmmmm… that is what I thought. God Bless, SR

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    1. The members of Congress who voted for the ACA voted to expand coverage. The increases that caused the problems resulted from the private insurance market. That is who you should be going after. However, if someone had ACA options for federal subsidies or Medicaid expansion and chose not to use them, it is not fair to blame the Congress or other taxpayers. That was a personal choice, not a lack of concern or opportunity from the government and fellow citizens.

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      1. In some instances, it would be state leaders who would be to blame, if they did not follow through on accepting available federal funding to expand affordable insurance to their citizens.

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