Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Trumpcare Threatens Low-Income Seniors’ Health Coverage

By Mildred Robertson
Having the choice to die from lack of health care rather than the lack of food or shelter is really not a choice at all. But that doesn’t seem to be much of a problem for Republican House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). You see, Ryan thinks the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessment of the Republican alternative to Obamacare is great. In fact, he says its assessment of the planned legislation exceeds his expectation.
Ryan touts this plan as “the most fundamental entitlement reform in a generation.” He appears to be oblivious to the fact that seniors with an annual income of $26,000 or less would be choosing to give up more than half their annual income if they choose to take advantage of his “free market” alternative to universal healthcare. So it appears disingenuous when he states that his plan is about giving people more and better health choices.
According to the CBO, a 21-year-old making $68,200 would pay an average of $1,450 for a year’s worth of insurance premiums after the new tax credits, compared with $5,100 under the current law. A senior who falls in the same income bracket would pay about the same for a year’s worth of premiums. But for those 64 year olds in the $26,500 income bracket the cost would rise from an annual premium of $1,700 under the Affordable Care Act to $14,600 under Trumpcare.
·         If your 21 years old and make $68,200 annually, your premiums will be about $1,450.
·         If you are 64 years old and make $68,200 annually, your payments would be about the same.
·         If you are 64 years old and make $26,500, your annual premium would skyrocket to $14,600.
So, that means redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich exceeds Speaker Ryan’s expectations. That means denying subsistence-level seniors the financial ability to acquire healthcare in order to give a tax break to those who need it the least exceeds Ryan’s expectations.
It is short-sighted to determine that it is not universally beneficial to our nation, regardless of a person’s age or infirmity, to have access to affordable, quality healthcare. We pay for the healthcare of those who opt out whether we want to or not.  And we generally pay more if the person must utilize the emergency room; or only seeks healthcare when the malady has progressed to a more severe and costly condition.
The CBO report indicates that as many as 24 million Americans will become uninsured under Trumpcare. Ryan says that is a good thing because it would be their choice. But his words ring hollow, because healthcare being available and being accessible are two different things. The CBO report indicates that healthcare would become anything but universal under the GOP plan, excluding millions.
Those 24 million uninsured represent our mothers, brothers and sisters…our children. They are real people, with real, beating hearts. It is irrelevant whether you are young or old, sick or healthy. Life is more important than a tax cut for the wealthy. The life of every citizen matters and one should not have to forfeit it for lack of money.
So while Trumpcare meets Speaker Ryan’s expectations, it does not meet mine. My expectation is that affordable healthcare is available for all Americans. My expectations is that every American facing a health crisis, regardless of age or income, should have the chance to live.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Focus on Congress – Trump is Just a Distraction

By Mildred Robertson

Are Trump’s tweets perplexing, infuriating, deceitful, hurtful, destabilizing and just plain ignorant? Absolutely. But we must not be duped by his seemingly adolescent predisposition to tweet nonsensical fabrications in the wee hours of the morning. There is, I believe, a method to his madness.

His intent is to distract us from the truly diabolical activities of his administration and the Republican Party as they destroy healthcare, education and the environment, all while chipping away at our civil liberties and covering up collusion with a foreign power to impact the inner workings of our government.  
I understand the news media’s proclivity to focus on his outrageous tweets, but by so doing they are helping Trump lay cover for his much more dangerous pursuits. It is easier to talk about the ridiculousness of his allegations against President Obama than it is to explain how House Bill 610 will eliminate the Elementary Education Act of 1965, which provides for equal opportunity in education, or that it will strip programs designed to help struggling learners and abolish the Nutritional Act of 2012 that provides breakfast and lunch for needy children.

Focusing on the tweets is easier than discussing how immigrant parents of American citizens are being snatched away from their children on their way to drop them off at school, or how the new immigration order continues to be a dressed up version of his previous Muslim ban. The media’s attention to his tweets gives less time to discuss the ramifications of the GOP’s plan to replace Obamacare, which is predicted to cause millions to lose coverage and millions more to pay a higher price for healthcare, or how it will defund Planned Parenthood and effectively shut down private health insurance coverage for abortions.
There is not much talk about the Russian steel being used to build the Dakota Pipeline.  There is not much time to discuss the exorbitant cost of Trump’s weekend get-a-ways to Mar-a-Largo, or the cost to house his wife in New York, or to protect his sons as they globetrot; pandering favor to foreign businesses. No in-depth reporting seems to be occurring regarding the unprecedented access to government officials given to those who can pay to stay at Trump’s properties or why that is a problem. Only fleeting mention has been given to ethical challenges associated with this administration and its unorthodox method of governing.

Little time is left to discuss the inadequacies of the cabinet members who have been confirmed, or to discuss all the vital vacant positions in our government which are going unfilled. Little attention is being paid to the mad-man in North Korea, the chill between the U.S. and China, or the overall break-down in our foreign relations.
So his tweets may seem ignorant and juvenile…and they are. But they are also crafty. Trump is determining what will be discussed in the news cycle. He is setting the agenda for the media. He is deciding what will be the national discussion.

Will he get himself in trouble with some of his tweets? Probably. But the fact is, the GOP is quietly instituting legislation that will harm the American public with little or no scrutiny, while Trump draws our attention elsewhere.
Ultimately his lack of understanding of the process of governing, his arrogance and his instability will take its toll. But who knows what will be the state of the country by the time that comes to fruition?

Don’t fall for his distractions. Our very way of life is under assault, and we do not have time to entertain his nightly temper tantrums and juvenile distractions while our nation burns.