US Healthcare Update

Overnight, the Senate defeated the Affordable Care Act repeal bills. It wasn’t pretty, with 49 Senators willing to take health insurance away from millions of Americans, but 51 Senators stood up for us.

Now, we need Congressmembers from across the spectrum to engage with each other to craft legislation that improves and expands the Affordable Care Act so that everyone has access to affordable, quality health care. There are already some bill drafts that do that available as a starting point.

Let’s go.

Plan C? Seriously?

Last night, more Republican Senators made it clear that they would not vote to open debate on the latest version of the health care bill.

Within a couple of hours, Majority Leader McConnell announced that he would bring up a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but delay its taking effect for two years, during which time the Congress would need to pass a replacement plan for the president to sign.

This is a bad idea.

The last time the Congress tried something similar was during a budget impasse. They put in place a sequester program that capped budget allocations for both discretionary and defense spending. The theory was that both parties would want to cooperate so they could allocate more money for their budget priorities. The reality was that no agreement was reached and there were some years that Congress didn’t even pass its appropriations bills, but used a series of continuing resolutions to fund the various departments.

This does not give high confidence that Congress would pass a replacement bill before the deadline.

Insurance companies and health care facilities are upset because this would create so much uncertainty for them.

The general public is concerned because the repeal is expected to immediately raise premiums and reduce the number of people who can afford insurance.

There are senators across the political spectrum calling for a new process to begin, involving input from all senators, along with public health professionals and the public, to craft health care reforms that will increase the availability and affordability of health care.

I hope that Senator McConnell will choose to engage in this more cooperative process which is in line with the way the Senate has traditionally operated.

climate commenting

When I was on the online rapid response team for commenting on fracking issues in New York,  I learned over time not to revisit comments on articles, even though I knew I was getting inaccurate (and occasionally nasty) replies.

Due to changing circumstances, I haven’t been commenting on much of anything lately, but I did make a comment on a recent column by Thomas Reese, SJ, on a carbon tax. This has turned into a long stream of comments from a man who does not believe in mainstream climate science with my replies and a few others weighing in.

I have decided to stop replying at this point, but I’ve spent so much time on it that I thought I would share it here:
https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/faith-and-justice/carbon-tax-revisited

Writer Beat comment

My recent post on the US, the Paris accord, and climate change was picked up by Autumn of Writer Beat and republished here. Due to personal circumstances, I have been remiss in answering comments, but I was up early today and baby ABC was asleep so I managed to put together a response. I urge you to visit the Writer Beat post to read the comments to which this response was written – and to check out the site which has many, many interesting posts from a range of bloggers.
*****
I wanted to share this link which has one of the best explanations of climate change/global warming I have ever read, compiled by knowledgeable scientists.

In terms of social responsibility, I truly appreciate the visions and insights of Pope Francis. In his encyclical Laudato Si’, he describes an integral ecology, which includes both care for creation (the environment) and care for people, especially those most vulnerable. One of the advantages of renewable energy is that it is often produced locally, eliminating the need for long-range distribution grids and powering other development needs.

A real-world example is a project in conjunction with my county’s community college and a remote village in Haiti. Solar panels with battery storage power a pump for a community water well for safe drinking water and a modern bathroom near the church and school. The community has started a garden to grow staple crops to feed the schoolchildren. Solar ovens are allowing the cooks to bake extra goods for sale to people in the village. LED lighting, which does not need much electricity to operate, allows the children to gather at the church and school to do homework in the evenings. Adults and children are able to use computers. Communication can be accomplished with cellular networks rather than by hardwire.

Climate change impacts are felt most acutely by those who are most vulnerable economically. Drought; collapse of native crops, fisheries, and wildlife; coastal, river, and flash flooding; and other climate and severe weather related problems disproportionately affect populations least able to defend against them. We are already seeing conflicts arise over water and other resources. Access to water and/or fossil fuels underlies many of the conflicts in the Middle East and in Africa. Natural gas transport is the subtext for the Russian land grab in Ukraine. The problems in Venezuela are connected to economic dependence on oil.

My personal viewpoint is that the United States, as one of the largest current greenhouse gas producers and historically the largest total greenhouse gas producer, should help people at home and abroad to deal with the effects of climate change as a moral responsibility. Doing so would not impoverish the wealthy or our country. We can re-prioritize our spending, especially in taking some of our current military budget and putting it toward human needs. Our military leaders have been speaking out for some time about the dangers that climate change poses to world stability and have been big advocates for using renewable energy as much as possible when they are in action. It makes sense to redirect some of the military budget to helping population around the world deal with climate change, hunger, water scarcity, pollution, sea level rise, and other problems, both because it is the just and moral course and because it will reduce causes of military conflict.

One-Liner Wednesday: Facts

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
~~ Aldous Huxley

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays!  Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/05/31/one-liner-wednesday-a-dogs-purpose/

the privilege of (private) mistakes

We all make mistakes.

After the problem at the Oscars last night, mistakes are in the news, so I have been thinking about mistakes a lot today.

Most of us lead our lives in a small, mostly private sphere. When I make a mistake, it is usually straightforward to correct it and move on.

I’d hate to think of what my posts would look like if I couldn’t correct my mistakes…

A simple mistake of handing someone the wrong envelope last night led to a few minutes of confusion before the situation was corrected, but having millions of people viewing that mistake must have made it very difficult for those involved.

Still, the solution was fast and there was no lasting damage.

Other mistakes are not so easy to rectify.

Last night, 60 Minutes was re-showing a segment on people who have been exonerated after long prison sentences. Such grievously mistaken convictions are not so easy to rectify. Some states try to award money to the person, while others don’t even do that. Still, no amount of money can replace decades of lost life with family and friends, a chance for a career or for building a family, being able to choose what to eat and where to travel, to have contact with others on a regular basis, all the stuff that we take for granted as we build our adult lives.

One man, exonerated by ballistics testing after thirty years in prison, made his first stop after being released his mother’s grave. Nothing could ever replace the precious time he lost, locked away from her.

One of my current worries is mistakes from the White House, which can have massive consequences.

For example, mistakes with the executive order on immigrants and refugees sent some people back to dangerous situations. A mistake made in international relations could even lead to armed conflict.

People who are in positions of public authority don’t share the luxury that I have of making – and correcting – mistakes in private. Therefore, they must be particularly diligent to be thoughtful and considered in everything they say and do.

The new administration is not there yet.

a visit to a congressional office (door)

I had wanted to write last week about political developments, including the resignation of DT’s national security adviser, the failure of Republican leaders in Congress to step up to investigate the relationship between DT’s campaign/administration and Russia, the confirmation of Scott Pruitt as EPA chief, and DT’s bizarre press conference and continued attacks on the free press, which should be guaranteed by the US Constitution.

I couldn’t muster the energy to do it.

This morning, I attended a monthly meeting of the Catholic Peace Community, where we discussed a community health care town hall being held this evening. Our member of Congress has been invited to attend, but there has been no indication that she will do so.

She is a Tea Party Republican and wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I had already written to her about the ACA, asking that it be retained and improved, not repealed. Her reply to my letter was somewhat disingenuous, faulting the ACA for not solving problems that it was not designed to solve in the first place.  She also did not give concrete ideas on how a replacement plan would work.

Before the meeting, I had seen a post on Facebook about the town hall which gave the location of her new local office, which I shared with the people at the meeting. After we finished, I proceeded downtown to the new office, to ask that the Representative attend the town hall and to share my further thoughts on health care.

It was a bit difficult to locate the office. There was no listing on the directory, no arrow pointing down the appropriate hallway, and no sign on the door, although I knew it was the right place because there was a Congressional seal on the wall beyond the glass door.

The lights were on, but the door was locked.

Not having any idea how long it would be before someone returned and not wanting to waste a visit, I found a bench, pulled out some paper from my pocketbook, and composed a several-paragraph-long note.

I walked back to the office and slipped my note under the still-locked door.

When I returned home, there was a phone message from one of the staff members, so at least I know that my message was received.

Whether it, along with the opinions of many, many others in our district, has any impact on her Congressional votes remains to be seen.