July 20th 2018
One of the elements of Obamacare is something called “risk-adjustment payments” which transferred funds from health insurance companies with a lower percentage of chronically or severely ill patients to companies with a higher percentage of such patients. The program, which involved on average, about $10 billion a year, was designed to keep insurance premiums and profits level among companies. It worked well.
In a compromise with Republicans, the program was designed to be revenue-neutral, to transfer money amongst the insurance companies with no net cost to the taxpayers.
Some smaller insurance companies sued, arguing that that the payment arrangements favored larger insurance companies and made it more difficult for insurance company startups. A Massachusetts federal judge ruled that no such adverse condition existed and bade the program continue.
But a federal judge in New Mexico ruled that the program must be suspended on the curious grounds that the government had not adequately articulated its reasons why the program should be revenue-neutral. Therefore, the program should be suspended so an investigation could be conducted as to why this wasn’t costing the taxpayers anything. (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/07/us/politics/trump-risk-adjustment-payments-obamacare.html)
Given the two conflicting rulings, it’s not hard to guess which the Trump administration decided to side with. Trump had already signaled during the Health Care debate of 2017 his intent to sabotage Obamacare in any way he could.
In July of 2017, Trump tweeted, “If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”
He’s been working to fulfill this promise to unnecessarily hurt the American people to spite Obama ever since. And it’s having a dire effect already.
Two weeks ago, I got this in my email from an online friend, a highly-respected journalist who requested I withhold his identity due to harassment from trolls. He had suffered a stroke at the beginning of last year and been working hard to rebuild his life since.
As you no doubt know, about a year and a half ago, I suffered a massive stroke. I am told that most people who have a stroke of the type and severity of the one I had don’t survive it.
But I survived it with most of my mental faculties intact, although at times I have a bit of difficulty focusing and my short term memory is spotty. I have lasting nerve impairment that makes coordination and locomotion difficult. I live with constant fatigue, as well as lack of equilibrium. I am on medical prescriptions that leave me weak and dizzy, on top of the already existing difficulties. I had seizures last fall that required an additional med that puts me in even worse shape.
My doctors (my primary care doctor and the battery of specialists on my case) recommend I don’t even try to work outside the home, which is fine because black men of my age are not high on the priority list for companies to employ. This wasn’t hard to accept. Many days it is necessary for me to remain lying down all day because of the weakness and dizziness. I no longer have regular sleep patterns and often must sleep for large parts of daylight hours.
My expenses are covered by Medicaid, including my health care and prescriptions. By chance, I had enrolled in Obamacare shortly before the stroke, and fortunately, it covered all my hospital expenses, which would have left me in perpetual debt. Without Obamacare and Medicaid I am here to tell about it. My housing is also covered by a state program which utilizes Medicaid funding to help keep me going.
Yesterday I received a letter informing me that to retain my health care it will be necessary for me to start paying them $685 a month.
Today I received a notification informing me that it will now be necessary for me to begin paying $685 monthly to continue living in the home where the state moved me.
I don’t get SNAP any more. My only income is the $750 monthly from Social Security disability.
As far as I can tell, this is all due to Trump and his GOP cronies messing with both Obamacare and Medicaid.
My friend is one of hundreds of thousands of people affected by this cruel and capricious action by the Trump administration, and it will get far worse as the criminals and vicious ideologues of the Republican Party, led by the treasonous Trump, slash away at Obamacare in their drive to keep the American public desperate, frightened, and totally reliant on the supposed largess of the corporations. You have a party that is essentially middle management as envisioned by John Galt, and a malevolent narcissist leading us off a cliff.
One response my friend got to his post was this: “Be warned, ****, I have low empathy. Your situation as described is very unfortunate; I hope you find a resolution. It’s fair to point out that you’re not the only person who has faced a similar situation, since Obamacare resulted in many people losing their insurance, forcing them to get new policies with very high premiums and high deductibles. I can’t hold you personally responsible for their problems, as you can’t (and I’m sure don’t) hold me personally responsible for yours. Even if the government didn’t meddle in the health care system, some people would come up short.”
This is a good example of the utter savagery of Trump and his supporters. “Low empathy” indeed.
My friend isn’t alone, and of course, the number of people affected by Trump’s tearing at the very fabric of society will grow and grow and grow, to the millions, and then tens of millions, and on up.
< The original promise was to “repeal and replace Obamacare with something better.” No Republican anywhere has proposed a replacement. They simply want to go back to the old Ayn Rand system, the wor>st in the developed world.
It’s easy to miss in the clownishness of Trump’s two-hour tryst in the Helsinki Don’t Tell Motel, or the efforts to drive the world economy into a ditch through trade and currency wars, but it is Trump’s vicious, unreasoning and vindictive attacks on health care that are having the most immediate, and horrific, effects.
Reread his words above very carefully. You’re next.