Remembering the Democrat Role in America’s Health Care Crisis

by William Skink

One thing has become crystal clear during this post-election transition period: Democrats are more than just sore losers; they are pathologically incapable of taking any responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

Losing the election is just one glaring area where Democrats have deployed vigorous methods of scapegoating, with Russia featured as the central factor in Clinton’s loss. Another issue where Democrats refuse to acknowledge their failure is health care.

On a micro-level, individuals who weren’t previously covered and now do have coverage probably don’t see the Affordable Care Act as a failure.

On a macro-level, costs are ballooning and choice is dwindling. This is having huge negative impacts on those American citizens who are not wealthy and not poor enough to receive subsidies.

On a personal level, if I hadn’t gotten a job that provides pretty good health insurance, the cost increases my family was facing started a difficult conversation about whether we could afford to keep living in our house.

Now that coverage has been extended through the ACA, taking it away will be both incredibly cruel and economically disastrous. That doesn’t change the fact that the health reform Democrats succeeded in passing was originally a Republican idea birthed in the bowels of the Heritage Foundation.

Instead of acknowledging the actual fix to America’s health care woes–a single payer system that Montana’s Max Baucus ensured wasn’t seriously considered–outgoing lame duck loser, President Obama, is once again lashing out to blame others for his disintegrating legacy. The target of this latest effort to shift blame is Bernie and his supporters:

President Barack Obama said on Friday that criticism from the left wing of his own Democratic Party helped feed into the unpopularity of Obamacare, his signature healthcare reform law.

Obama has been spending part of his last two weeks in office urging supporters to speak out against plans by Republicans – who will soon control both the White House and Congress – to dismantle the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

At a town hall event with Vox Media, Obama acknowledged the politics have been stacked against his reforms, mainly blaming Republicans who he said refused to help make legislative fixes to Obamacare, which provides subsidies for private insurance to lower-income Americans who do not have healthcare plans at work.

But Obama also said Liberals like former Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders had contributed to the program’s unpopularity.

No, President Obama, it’s not Bernie’s fault that the ACA is increasingly seen as a failed attempt to fix the most expensive and least efficient health care system on the planet. It’s the lived experiences of real people that has contributed to the program’s unpopularity.

There is a sliver-lining for Democrats as Republicans prepare to blowup Obamacare: the resulting pain of human suffering and state budget crises that will result can be solely pinned on Republicans. For partisans trying to figure out how to not lose elections, they will eagerly exploit this suffering for electoral gain.

When Republicans fall into this trap, the memory of how we got here will be obliterated. But some of us will remember that an opportunity to actually fix health care in America under the Obama regime was suppressed in order for Democrats to smear liberal lipstick on a conservative idea that proved critics were right: Obamacare was destined to fail.

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About William Skink

I'm a poet and political cynic living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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29 Responses to Remembering the Democrat Role in America’s Health Care Crisis

  1. Big Swede says:

    You guys need to make up your minds. Either your for the will of the people or against it, make up your minds.

    “The overwhelming majority of Republicans, 96 percent, want the Affordable Care Act repealed. Most Democrats, 84 percent, say the same, as do swing voters by a 3-2 margin.

    Conservative legislators are eager to “pull Obamacare up by the roots as if it never existed,” Luntz told PBS in December. “They would say that Obama’s plan has failed.”-Luntz

    Like

    • Republicans don’t have a genuine plan to replace it with. that means the post-repeal reality will be disastrous, and it will all be hung on Republicans.

      Like

      • Big Swede says:

        The Republicans have always had a plan.

        The GOP plan would:

        Expand health savings accounts
        Offer refundable tax credits to subsidize the purchase of private health insurance and decrease dependence on employer-sponsored plans
        Cap the tax exclusion for employer-provided health insurance
        Allow people to purchase insurance across state lines
        Provide $25 billion in funding for high-risk pools over 10 years
        Devolve Medicaid to the states, either through a block grant or a “per capita allotment”
        Partially privatize Medicare beginning in 2024 through a “premium support” option

        Compare and contrast the 30,000 page Ocare plan, passed in the middle of the night which no one read, including Tester.

        What did Nancy Pelosi say? “You have to pass it to see why’s in it”.

        Like

  2. steve kelly says:

    Most countries have figured out that effective, universal health plans are essential. In most countries all citizens are protected from losing everything to greedy rents-seekers who profit from illness. When it comes to health-care policy and practice, the USA is exceptional, but no where near superior.

    There are many examples to choose from that work. Will we finally pick one?

    Like

  3. Big Swede says:

    Repeal and immediate replace.

    Like

  4. Eric says:

    I disagree with your premise – that there will be chaos as Obamacare is dismantled.
    There were already millions of people losing their policies as providers left the State exchanges, and they haven’t taken to the streets, they just took the big increase, gulped, cancelled their paper, cable, and extra cell phone (or debated keeping their house) to pay for it.
    Most of the affected will be people who are getting it highly or 100% subsidized, and paid for by you & I.
    You have noticed, that the Dems are forgetting their lies – you know – keep your plan, keep your Doctor, premiums dropping $200 or more per family, per month, etc., and they are trying to rewrite history.
    IMO – if they open up the insurance market, and sell insurance across State lines, pass tort reform, and throw out some of the regulations the market will sort itself out really quick.
    There will still be social safety nets, and those that qualify for medicare will still get it, and the people who will appreciate it will be people like me, with a family, who will see both premiums and deductibles go back down to their pre-ACA levels

    Like

    • JC says:

      How will any of this lower the health care (not insurance) costs?

      And if you have employer-provided health insurance, then I and every other taxpayer has been subsiding it.

      But if you believe that your premiums and deductibles will ever go down (with the same set of benefits), then you’ve been smoking some strong [medical?] dope.

      Like

  5. Eric says:

    Why not expect them to go down?
    The company I work for will start negotiating a better insurance deal as soon as the ACA is gone, and whichever company has the best deal will get the business.
    Guess what – the plans will get tailored, and the lowest bidder will win. It’s a very old, and very fair arrangement.
    Hospitals cannot be forced to lower their prices, as shown by Obamacare – but if regulations can be cut, and their costs go down, it’ll be a step in the right direction. Let’s see how the Trump Regime handles it.

    Like

    • JC says:

      You’re a nice capitalist. Why should reforming the insurance market (again) lead to lower medical costs? The onus is on you (and all others who are going to write new reform legislation) to explain to me how it will lower my medical (not insurance) costs. Otherwise all that is going to happen is that networks will get thinner, and covered services will be decreased. What will happen to deductibles, copays and coinsurance is debatable. But there isn’t a shred of evidence or legislative intent, or study that will show how any republican-generated insurance reform plan (“ObamaCare replacement”) will do anything to improve care.

      You’ve got a high bar to cross here, Coobs. Either you guys have a transparent process that outlines what you’re going to do — what people will get, how much it will cost, how it will be paid for, and how medical costs will be constrained — or you will morph the system into one where insurance becomes meaningless in terms of actually being useful, and people will resort to just using fee for service as premiums and out-of-pocket expenses continue to increase while covered services diminish.

      The system is broken, I’ll give you that. It was broken before ObamaCare, but at least 20+ million people have insurance now that didn’t before: lives are being saved, and people’s health needs are being met to a larger degree. But all I see coming from republicans is something that is just going to break the system even worse for all but those who can either afford to pay out of pocket (wealthy) or can buy cadillac coverage (upper middle class). The rest of us are going to continue to be screwed, and the uninsured will pay ever-increasing prices for less health care as the actual prices of medical care increase.

      Like

  6. Eric Coobs says:

    “but at least 20+ million people have insurance now that didn’t before”

    Please check it out – the insurance those people have has deductibles so high that they can’t use the plans. The ones under the poverty level are getting Medicaid, as they should.

    Don’t forget the last lie – “Everybody will be covered”

    There are still 27 million people uninsured.

    Here’s a breakdown on the numbers:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2016-obamacare/

    Like

    • JC says:

      And MT reps are touting replacement plans for major medical and reducing the numbers of Medicaid recips. Major medical plans make high deductibles look like piggy banks.

      So what’s your plan to cover everybody? Outside of buying a plastic card at Walmart that’s good for a trip to the local public health care clinic.

      Let go of the past, and rehashing old resentments. You guys won. Now you gotta show up and prove you’re not just a bunch of heartless bastards.

      Like

      • Eric says:

        JC – there IS no plan to cover everybody. Free Health care, or even subsidized Health Care is not a right in the USA.

        Our rights are spelled out in the Constitution and it’s amendments.

        Like

        • JC says:

          Eric, you don’t need a constitutional right to health care in order to have universal coverage. Every other enlightened country in the world has universal health care, and most have no constitutional provision to such. So drop the red herring, it don’t work no more.

          What’s your health coverage plan, and how are you going to lower medical (not insurance) costs? You’re really avoiding the only important questions there are.

          Like

  7. nemo says:

    Pre-ACA a high deductible ($10 or 15,000, I forget) catastrophic CYA policy would run me, personally, about $150/mo. Fast forward to 2017, the lowest level “bronze” plan is $650/mo. Coverage I don’t want at a price I’m not willing to pay. Taking the tax penalty is the lesser of two evils. If making health care affordable for some while making it unreasonable/unaffordable for others was the ultimate goal, job well done.

    Like

    • JC says:

      Cheap catastrophic policies may be good for you. But a $10k-15k deductible is catastrophic for most lower middle class families and individuals. As in bankruptcy-style catastrophic. Particularly when coupled with a loss of wages for several months from the catastrophic health crises.

      So, you’re saying that we should revert to pre-ACA catastrophic plans because of you and your wants. Nice. Another “I got mine, f*ck the rest” story.

      Like

      • Eric says:

        I was self-insured for years JC, and if it wasn’t for Obamacare I’d still be doing it.

        If one of the kids got sick, I’d take them to the clinic, and write a check.

        When I picked up their prescription, I wrote another one.

        I might have spend $400 per year on health care. I put a lot of money away doing it too.

        Like

        • JC says:

          And what would you do if one of your kids got in an accident, almost died, and all of a sudden you have $400,000 in doctor bills? Self coverage at that level is available to less than 1% of the population. I quit my job, became a full-time custodial single parent, and went on Medicaid for three years when this happened to my daughter. My only other choice would have been to let her die, or not get the critical care she needed beyond the ER and 30 days in the ICU ($350,000) to avoid being an invalid the rest her life. My kid and I were uninsurable due to pre-existing conditions.

          You republicans really are heartless bastards when it comes to health care.

          Like

      • nemo says:

        You assume much and know little. Look into having that chip removed from your shoulder.

        Like

        • JC says:

          As I said with Eric, the past is over, done. What’s your plan moving forward then? Do you have a plan for covering those already covered under the ACA when it gets repealed?

          The only two questions worth asking at this point are: 1) how should medical (not insurance) costs be reigned in (if you believe that is a worthwhile endeavor; and 2) how are you going to provide coverage to those who will lose it when the ACA gets repealed (again, assuming you care to cover those who will lose coverage, or who have no coverage).

          If you’d care to answer those question nemo, maybe we can get beyond the resentments of the ACA in general, and against those who get subsidies in the ACA in particular (including Medicaid) and have a discussion.

          Like

        • nemo says:

          It appears JC that any exchange of ideas ends with you labeling people “heartless republicans” who are only in it for themselves. Your myopic view of the world serves you well, why change it? You assume my choice of a catastrophic policy, in order to have some rather than no coverage, meant I could easily pull $15k out of my ass as I gave the finger to the rest of the world ‘cause I got mine. I hope the world continues to wipe your ass in the style you’ve grown accustomed to, junior. I now look forward to jumping on medicare and draining the system as I mindlessly scream year after year for more medical coverage, more drug coverage and ever increasing COLA’s. Knowing you, your children and grandchildren will toil for generations to pay for it will be icing on the cake. I’m depending on y’all to stay healthy so keep paying those premiums but if ya can’t, keep paying those medicare and FICA taxes ‘cause, fuck it, I got mine! I hope the preceding fits your narrative. Toodles.

          Like

        • JC says:

          So I take that as a you got no plan.

          And as to labeling people “heartless republicans”, if the shoe fits… And that comment wasn’t meant for you, it was for Eric, whom I’ve commented with mostly civilly over the years. And he finally revealed he has a bit of heart. Not so most of the republicans in Congress who are more interested in repealing the ACA than dealing with meaningful health care (not insurance) reform.

          Like

  8. Eric says:

    JC – you got through it, and I respect you for it – more than you know.
    I figured a huge medical bill would put me into bankruptcy, and with the crummy plan that was available to me back then, a $350,000 bill, with the high deductible, and 60/40 out of network cost, I would have been in bankruptcy too. Medicaid is still there. and I support that with my tax dollars and pay quite a lot.

    Like

  9. Eric Coobs says:

    Hey JC – I went back and studied your post.

    I think I’m starting to understand your point of view. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks like you believe that The Great Leader created an entitlement when they enacted Obamacare.

    Looking at the lies that were told, I can see why people believe that.

    But looking at the ACA, that is not the case.

    To create a workable entitlement, for free health care for everyone, supported by taxes, much of our Constitution would have to be re-written.

    All the public hospitals would have to be bought/seized by the government.

    Medical suppliers, all the way down to the gauze manufacturers would be nationalized / taken over. Ditto the drug companies.

    All medical professionals would have to ‘enlist’ in the medical industry and be government employees. If enough people were not willing to sign on, a draft would begin.

    There would be health care guidelines, written in Washington, deciding what kind of treatment you would get.

    This would create private Doctors and hospitals, for those who can afford to pay themselves, and those doors would be closed to the general public, kind of like a black market.

    ~ OR ~ Try to enhance the ACA to simply let the industry do it’s thing, and work on the insurance plan end of it.

    Think you can afford it? Look up North.

    In 2013, a typical Canadian family of four can expect to pay $11,320 for public health care insurance. For the average family of two parents with one child that bill will be $10,989, and for the average family of two adults (without children) the bill comes to $11,381. As a result of lower average incomes and differences in taxation, the bills are smaller for the average unattached individual ($3,780), for the average one-parent-one-child family ($3,905), and the average one-parent two-child family ($3,387). But no matter the family type, the bill is not small, much less free.

    So I’m willing to sit back and see how the GOP handles it. The Dems had their chance.

    Like

    • JC says:

      Eric, I never claimed that either the ACA was an entitlement, or wished it to be. While morally I believe in an enlightened society that health care is a right, I don’t embody that right in the constitution.

      As such, you can have a universal health care system (everybody gets in), and the costs are paid through a single payer system (or other similar mechanism, of which there are several). In such a system, the actual delivery of health care doesn’t radically change from what we have. You still have services handled by private (like the Billings Clinic), nonprofit (like the Sisters of Providence Hospitals), or government sources (i.e. VA, IHS, County public health clinics, etc.).

      It would be far more simplistic and with a lot less administrative overhead to create a single national health service, but I don’t ever see that happening in the U.S. So if we stick with a hybrid system (and the ACA, as derived from the Heritage Foundation model aka “RomneyCare” was a hybrid — or selective care system), it can still be moved to a universal system. And as with many other countries, you don’t have to have single payer, relying instead on a hybrid of public/private funding (like Medicare, and private insurance).

      The main problem I see is that Congress — republicans and democrats alike — are so enamored by lobbyists and campaign contributions, that they are unwilling to tackle the big questions — how to drive down medical care and pharmaceutical costs so that we can afford universal care like every other country in the world that is worth anything.

      Here’s a nice moderate article in Forbes talking about this:

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2013/12/08/universal-coverage-is-not-single-payer-healthcare/#263b541947f5

      So, the debate should be around whether or not we want to join the rest of the enlightened modern world and provide universal heath care. Once we get to that place, then we can figure out how to finance it, and what that would look like. Again, this isn’t resorting to an entitlement requiring constitutional revisions. It is just doing what all other countries have, and there are dozens of models out there to learn from.

      And all of this is why I have absolutely no faith that republicans (and before them democrats) are going to solve this dilemma. The problem is never framed correctly — universal health care — hence all the verbiage is just about fiddling around the edges of our health care morass, and do nothing to go to the heart of the problems.

      Thanks for taking the time to look back into this, I appreciate it.

      Like

  10. Big Swede says:

    Tester has stuck his finger in the air to see which way the political winds are blowing. Last night he voted with Republicans to repeal Obamacare.

    Interesting that there was no replacement legislation with the bill.

    Like

  11. JC says:

    His final vote was against the repeal. Where did he vote for it? But I agree he’s a finger-in-the-air politician.

    https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/s26

    Like

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