Opinion: The Senate health-care bill is a gross betrayal

Dorothy McIntosh Shuemake, mother of heroin overdose victim Alison Shuemake, cries as she clutches the toy stuffed rabbit left behind by her daughter. (AP)

I can’t figure out why Republican senators worked so hard to keep their health-care proposal secret for so long, since it turns out to so closely mirror the House version.

Certainly, the bottom line is the same:

Both bills cut $800 billion in funding for Medicaid  — much of which covers health care for poor children, for the disabled and for the elderly in nursing homes. Through tax cuts, both bills then smuggle that $800 billion to those who are deemed much more in need.

You know, those in the top 1 percent of income, those who have already benefited enormously from this economy, those whom President Trump sneeringly derides as the elite even as he and his party alter the structure of government and the economy to further enrich that very same elite.

The Senate bill should also silence those who tried to argue that Republican policy shouldn’t be judged on the Republican bill that passed the Republican House and that Republicans went to the White House to celebrate with our Republican president. That bill was so bad that even Donald Trump complained later that it was too mean, that it lacked “heart.”

Well, the Senate bill is just as mean, except in a few slightly different ways.

Let’s be clear about what’s at stake here:

Medicaid pays the bill for roughly two-thirds of Americans in long-term nursing home care. In Georgia it pays for 74 percent of that care. Medicaid pays the health-care bills for almost 40 percent of America’s children. In Georgia, it’s 45 percent. And as Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price likes to point out, a lot of doctors won’t even accept Medicaid these days, although Price never mentions why.

It’s because Medicaid reimbursement rates are so low. So what happens to those rates when $800 billion in federal funding disappears? How many doctors will take it then?

In a letter this week to Senate leaders, the chief executives of some of the largest managed-care providers in the country pointed out another important consequence:

“In 2015, more than 2 million Americans had an opioid use disorder. Nationally in 2016, Medicaid paid for 24 percent of the medications that are used for treating opioid addiction. In the five states with the highest opioid overdose mortality rates (West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Ohio and Rhode Island) Medicaid covered 41 percent of opioid treatments. Cutting Medicaid coverage will only worsen the opioid crisis.” (Emphasis original.)

Look at those five states hit hardest by the opioid crisis. One is Kentucky, the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. As one gauge of the severity of the problem in Kentucky, emergency responders in the capital of Louisville, a city of 766,000, dealt with 151 emergency overdose calls in just a four-day period recently. It’s a terrible situation, but it would be much worse without Obamacare and Medicaid expansion, which have cut the uninsured rate in Kentucky from 20.4 percent in 2013 to 7.8 percent in 2016, the largest reduction in the country.

In New Hampshire, candidate Trump made sweeping, seemingly heart-felt promises that he would get help for those caught in the epidemic. “We’re going to set up programs,” he promised voters. “We’re going to try everything we can to get them unaddicted.”

In Ohio, which was key to Trump’s election,  he made similar promises.

“We’re going to take all of these kids—and people, not just kids—that are totally addicted and they can’t break it,” he told a town hall meeting in Columbus back in August. “We’re going to work with them, we’re going to spend the money, we’re gonna get that habit broken.”

As political strategy, it was brilliant. In the industrial Midwest, where Trump in essence won his victory, 95 percent of the counties where he outperformed Mitt Romney also had higher than average rates of drug mortality.

And this is the thanks they get. Instead of spending more money, Trump and his fellow Republicans are slashing those programs. In addition to drastic Medicaid cuts, both the House and Senate bills would strip the requirement that private health-care plans cover addiction treatment.¹

If these cuts are enacted, if Republicans “succeed,” then people will die who otherwise might be saved. Maybe a lot of them. I’ve been to funerals of young people — children, really — who couldn’t shake this addiction. One was for a young girl whom I coached in soccer for a decade. I’ve also seen friends, and neighbors, and children of friends and neighbors succumb to it, and I don’t live in the rural communities and small towns where its impact is greatest, and where government-funded addiction programs are really the only option.²

Now, the very people who promised to help those communities are in the process of stripping them of both help and hope, and using deception, secrecy and betrayal to do so, all in the service of tax cuts for the already wealthy. There’s a lot of anger out there in the political process, but you look at things like this and you realize that maybe there’s not as much as there ought to be, as there needs to be.

——————

¹Initially, the Trump budget for 2018 also proposed cutting the lead federal anti-drug agency, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, by 95 percent, and the Pennsylvania congressman initially tabbed to head the office withdrew from consideration. The administration reversed those proposed cuts only after being shamed by a public backlash, but it has yet to nominate a new director for the office.

² The Senate bill does contain a one-time, $2 billion appropriation for 2018 to help combat the opioid epidemic. However, as noted by U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV, that sop doesn’t begin to offset the loss of Medicaid funding for addiction treatment and is only a one-time expenditure.

 

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5547 comments
YouLibs
YouLibs

Lyin' liars and the lies they tell SHEETS.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

Fan4500: "Evolution is a theory and can not be proven."


It's widely known and has a huge amount of experimental support as well as real-life support. 


For example, have you heard of people getting infections where current medications cannot fight them?  That's because bacteria have adapted to our current medicines and built a resistance to them.  

That adaption and change is called "evolution." 

If evolution was not true, then no species could adapt (and basically have an updated genetic structure.) 

So, yes, evolution exists. 

honested
honested

@LogicalDude 

I used to have an ignoramus religious freak inlaw for whom "If evolution is real, why did it stop" was her go-to argument.

Explaining bacterial mutation would just make her cry.

Fan4500
Fan4500

@LogicalDude Nope, evolution is a theory. I'll be back. Lunch time and work. We'll talk more later today around 4 or 5.

YouLibs
YouLibs

@LogicalDude 

Fan, I've been through all of this before and I don't have the time to go through it all again, but a scientific theory is not just a guess about something, it is what scientists work with in the absence of a law.

If there is even one single case where a theory is shown not to be applicable, it is either amended or discarded.

Ask the people who lived in Nagasaki or Hiroshima back in the forties if they think Einstein's Theory of Relativity was just some cockamamie idea he was throwing around.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@McGarnagle @LogicalDude yeah, people used to think it was a "force" like magnetism, but with Einstein, people now think it's a "curvature of space-time". 


Until last year, there was no experiment to even measure affects of gravity in space-time, so there is more support for the "theory". 


Yep, Gravity is a theory, with no doubt as to whether a ball goes up or down when you let go of it. 

And Evolution is a theory with no doubt as to what happens whether an offspring has the exact same genetic code or a mixture of genetic code that allow them to adapt to changes in their environment. 

gotalife
gotalife

They trotted out conway to lie as usual.


If you still believe the crypt keeper you are a gullible moron.

YouLibs
YouLibs

"Fan4500 25 minutes ago@rimsky @Fan4500 I don't believe in it. I think men like Gore and others, (Paris Accord), have used it to obtain lots of money. It's a scam."

------

 

I'll bet that even though much of the money for the "think tanks" that come up with the denials of AGW  can be traced directly to the energy conglomerates, it has never occurred to Fan that denial is a scam to keep the energy conglomerates obtaining a lot of money.

A climate scientist I used to converse with told me he had calculated how many lifetimes it would take him, at his current level of income, to become as wealthy as Charles Koch. It was way into the thousands.

SFM_Scootter
SFM_Scootter

@YouLibs @rimsky @Fan4500 When it comes to CC I know nothing scientific. I do know that I have no need for any of the insulated clothing I used to wear. Whew! 

honested
honested

@YouLibs @rimsky @Fan4500 

Meanwhile, Al Gore's "Genesis Fund" (which invests exclusively in solid renewable energy products and projects has averaged 13% per year ROI for the last 6 years.

gotalife
gotalife

senate changed their trumpcare so the CBO was waiting on that.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@gotalife Does that mean they'll wait for the CBO to publish its findings or go ahead and vote before they hear how bad it'll affect their own constituents? 

gotalife
gotalife

sc did not consider the Constitution in their partisan politics.


It is a failed corrupt institution playing ignorant partisan politics.

rimsky
rimsky

@Kamchak 2 days ago you reported as 42%.  What changed?

gotalife
gotalife

We get to watch climate change play out.


Learn to swim.

_GodlessHeathen_
_GodlessHeathen_

"What was a 2.2 millimeter per year rise in 1993 was a 3.3 millimeter rise in 2014, based on estimates of the mass changes of a number of key components of sea level rise, such as the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the study in Nature Climate Change found."

So the sea level rise is not measurable but is based on estimates of mass changes in key components?


Interesting.

YouLibs
YouLibs

I once relayed the story here about being in the radio shack on the bridge of my ship when the General Quarters alarm sounded. I assumed it was a drill so I walked out onto the bridge to see what was going on and the Quartermaster (the guy driving) said we were preparing for a collision with another ship. I looked around and could only see one ship and it wasn't very close to us at all so I asked wtf? The Qm said that despite the fact that he had steered hard to port and reversed our engines, our momentum was going to carry us into the other ship. Sure enough, several minutes later we hit the other ship with an impact that was mind-blowing.

So, of course I was thinking about that when I read this about the collision last week between the U.S.S. Fitzgerald and that Japanese container vessel:

"The container ship steered hard to starboard (right) to avoid the warship, but hit the Fitzgerald 10 minutes later at 1:30 a.m., according to a copy of Captain Ronald Advincula's report to Japanese ship owner Dainichi Investment Corporation that was seen by Reuters."

The reason I brought that up originally was to discuss how the momentum of large masses makes their path hard to alter. Our climate is way, way bigger than a warship or a container ship.

honested
honested

@YouLibs 

And we have a 'captain' right now with no concept of momentum.

rimsky
rimsky

@YouLibs I hate it on the highways when folks in little cars play chicken in front of loaded 18 wheelers.

I had experienced a similar incident while driving my box truck load with totes of liquid on I 75 near Atlanta.  Fortunately I came close.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@YouLibs dam* rudders are just too small. 


(conclusion of Titanic not being able to turn quickly enough to miss the iceberg)

stefpe
stefpe

@YouLibs "the momentum of large masses makes their path hard to alter"

Mechanics is just a theory so you don't know that! 

skydog12
skydog12

@YouLibs

I`m not very superstitious, but I don`t think I would name a ship Fitzgerald again.

gotalife
gotalife

The saudis are free to do another 9/11 and not on the religious ban.

rimsky
rimsky

@gotalife Instead the Saudis are too busy starving the Yemenis to death.  Literally.