GOP Health Plans: “Die, You Gravy Sucking Senior”

… or person with special needs, or pre-existing condition, or lady parts.

I can’t understand what’s going on in Congress these days. The House and Senate Republicans’ healthcare bills send a clear message that unless you have a lot of money, you are not worthy. You’re not worthy of support, you’re not worthy of preventative healthcare, you’re not worthy of living longer. The healthcare bills cut taxes on the rich and gut Medicaid and their supporters are attempting to sell it as a good thing.

And it may be working.

The Republicans have a long track record of framing issues in such a way that people who are harmed by a policy support it anyway. They have been sold on the idea that they will benefit from the policy.

A good example is “tax relief.” That phrase has been used for decades as a way to cut taxes which greatly benefit the wealthy and harm the middle class and poor. For the middle class, they see a few hundred or thousand extra dollars in their net pay over a year and think they are winners, but then they complain about bad roads, poor schools and incompetent staff at the VA. They don’t seem to make the connection that the vast majority of the tax cuts went to the rich and for them, a car repair from bad roads won’t break the bank, there are many good private schools to send the kids, and they don’t really need VA benefits, even for the few who are entitled.

So how are the Republicans framing their healthcare bills?

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price: “Nobody will fall through the cracks, nobody will have the rug pulled from under them. We believe we’ll get more individuals covered than are covered now.”

Sen. John Thune (SD): “We’ve got to be able to make Medicaid sustainable, which it’s not today, and give states flexibility to design plans that work better for their populations but that don’t pull the rug out from people who really, really need help.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (WI): “We are mortgaging our children’s future. A compassionate society doesn’t impoverish future generations for benefits in the here and now.” (Sen. Johnson is not in support of the bill as proposed, but wants to include additional cuts in federal healthcare spending.)

In brief, the Republicans frame the message as (1) Obamacare is failing, (2) We spend too much on healthcare, (3) States know better than the federal government, and (4) “Trust us – nobody will fall through the cracks.”

The Democratic response is (1) It hasn’t been Obamacare since Trump was elected and told insurers he would cut support, (2) Then why does the bill give a $765 billion tax break to the wealthy (mostly), (3) Really? States will be able to care for many more people with much less money?, and (4) Are you kidding me?

See how much better Republicans are at framing the message?

Because the Republican healthcare bills provide hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks primarily to the wealthy (40% to the top 1%) and cut Medicaid by billions of dollars, they are a hardship for tens of millions, but they are a death sentence for those in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Only 6% of Medicaid enrollees use these services, but they account for 42% of all Medicaid spending.

If you were coldhearted, the decision is easy – get rid of those who use expensive services. Kill off the elderly poor, the disabled poor, the poor with cancer, diabetes or kidney disease. You don’t have to get your own hands dirty. If you’re a member of Congress, all you have to do is pass these healthcare bills. That will cut the funds that keep these people alive, and in the process, you’ll improve the social security trust fund’s health because there will be fewer payees. It seems that these healthcare bills are a win-win for Republicans in Congress.

And they can pass the blame. It’s the states’ fault for not using the money better. It’s the patients’ fault for not living a better quality of life which may have kept them from getting cancer, diabetes or old. It’s the Democrats fault. The Republicans don’t really need to justify why it’s the Democrats fault – it’s just what they say these days – “Democrats are obstructionists toward this legislation” (in which we didn’t even want them involved, but don’t say that part out loud.) Strange times indeed.

Since Donald Trump’s election, my wife has wondered on several occasions whether we should consider moving to another country because most actions planned by Congress and the president will harm the country in the long term. For six months I have answered that while income and wealth inequality is bad for the country as a whole, we are on the better side of the divide. I have even suggested early retirement in Sedona, AZ, where we would go hiking and play golf every day as a better alternative to moving to another country.

But these Republican healthcare bills are changing my mind. They are an attack on old people and I hope to be old one day. If the U.S. has a healthcare policy engineered to kill you off once you reach a certain age and have less than a certain level of assets, that is scary. Not just a policy – the Republicans are intent on getting this written into federal law. Canada is looking pretty good right about now. I should start learning French.

About tonyj126

I'm a 50+ married man who always seems to have a large backlog of work to do, but also a lot of flexibility in my schedule. Much of the work I do is volunteer or taking care of extended family members. I suffer from, as my priest calls it, "the sin of self-sufficiency," which means I can figure out how to do most things myself, and consequently, reduce the need for community to solve problems. As a logical extention (at least to me), I find myself called to comtemplate the country's and the world's woes and offer my observations. I hope someone out there will find them useful.
This entry was posted in Economics, Healthcare, U.S. Politics, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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