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The scorekeeper speaks

from Peter Radford

The Congressional Budget Office is the latest victim of the intensity of Washington politics. The CBO is the organization we rely on to “score” legislation so that Congress and the White House know roughly what impact their policies will have on the country. As you can imagine being the CBO during times such as these when alternative facts have become the primary way of explaining things is perilous. Worse: being the CBO when one party wants to cram through some legislation  that is already known to be a doozy is more than perilous.

So it is with Trumpcare.

Up until today we were just guessing at how awful the Republican healthcare reform plan is. Now we know. The CBO issued its report today. There isn’t much to say other than this: 

  • A sixty-four year old man with an income of $26,000 [which is 175% of the poverty limit] would be hammered — that’s an understatement. Under Obamacare such a person pays $15,300 for a policy but gets a subsidy of $13,600 for a net cost of $1,700. Under Trumpcare that same person pays $19,500 for a policy and gets a subsidy of $4,900 for a net cost of $14,600. So healthcare becomes over 50% of that person’s annual income. This is an astonishing and thoroughly immoral attack on the poor.
  • If that same person was much better off and was earning $68,200 [which is 450% of the poverty limit] the same numbers apply. The massive rise in cost is slightly more bearable, but is still an outrageous act of pillage.
  • Twenty-four million people will lose their coverage entirely.
  • By 2026 a total of 52 million people will be uninsured, compared with an estimated 28 million under Obamacare.
  • Spending on Medicaid, America’s primary healthcare plan for the very poor, will be reduced by $880 billion over the next ten years. An example of the damage this will do is that Medicaid provides about 60% of all spending on old age homes. So the effect of reducing it so drastically will be to throw older and sicker people back into the care of their families, reducing those families ability to pay for other things and thus setting up a negative cascade through the economy that could dramatically affect growth.
  • By altering the funding set aside for Medicare, the plan brings forward the date of the insolvency of the Medicare Fund by three years.
  • The plan contains specific wording to attack Planned Parenthood which is the country’s primary delivery mechanism for family planning to low income women.

I need say no more.

The Republican plan is mean spirited, stupid, immoral, and menacing. It represents a massive tax cut for the wealthy and an equally massive attack on income redistribution. It may satisfy the raving libertarian right, but it utterly fails even the slightest humanitarian test.

It is important we pin the moniker “Trumpcare” on it. Make Trump responsible for the damage he is trying to do because of this great irony: the slice of the population hit the hardest is exactly that slice who voted for Trump with the largest percentage margin. He is undermining his own supporters. He manifestly lied during the election. Either that or he is spineless because he could oppose the plan but isn’t.

This plan must be stopped.

  1. March 14, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Republicans are making democrats seem human.

  2. Craig
    March 14, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Why not suggest creating a healthcare bank that was mandated to distribute a debt free $50 per month health insurance stipend to everyone and also rebated back to every health care business model a 20% discount they gave to everyone’s monthly premium? You could also increase the discount rate by say 5% to any business that agreed to keep their prices within .5% of what they were 6 months before such a program was implemented. You could also give an additional 5% discount rate to any new healthcare business start up, and the same to any system that included scientifically rigorous alternative medical procedures. Then the government could get behind public service announcements extolling the benefits of the importance and positive effects of proper exercise the same way that it did when it lowered the smoking rate significantly starting in the 70’s.

  3. March 14, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    There is no greater moral incongruity in the Western world than that of the Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians who voted for Trump because of his anti-abortion and court appointment promises, and the savage medical proposals described by Peter here, fundamentally at odds with the Sermon on the Mount.

    It’s enough to fight another Civil War over. I’ve been ready for a long time.

  4. March 16, 2017 at 9:03 am

    I understand your concerns. But humans are not new to genocide. And laws against murder are so strong and the penalties so severe because humans have always murdered one another. Even killing one another by denying aid or medical care is not new for humans. So we can’t pretend that human morality has not allowed such things. Any more than we can pretend that killing people by ignoring their needs is new. The commitments we need to make are those made by people such as Albert Schweitzer, “We must make atonement for all the terrible crimes we read of in the newspapers. We must make atonement for the still worse ones, which we do not read about in the papers, crimes that are shrouded in the silence of the jungle night…” And we atone by changing our culture so that it no longer “divides people into two classes: civilized men, a title bestowed on the persons who do the classifying; and others, who have only the human form, who may perish or go to the dogs for all the ‘civilized men’ care.” What’s happening in DC now clearly shows human evolution is taking us away from not toward such atonement.

  5. patrick newman
    March 17, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    The USA spends about 17% GDP on healthcare. The UK spends about 8.5% on healthcare. For a cost of around £3000 per adult there is comprehensive availability and no one has to take out private health insurance although some do to get preferential service. There is nothing in between the patient and the healthcare providers although GP’s act as gate keepers – they are qualified to do this. Yes there are anomalies and some queuing. For example payment for drugs (max £8.40). dental treatment (£55 for a filling). For a £150bn organisation employing 1.2M people there is bureaucracy but as every citizen has a right for treatment there are no insurance type transaction processing and no payment disputes and issues. The NHS is funded from general taxation. Finally interms of morbidity and mortality the UK has better outcomes! Obviously the USA would do well to avoid ‘socialised’ medecine! Clearly some Republicans think for the poor – better prematurely dead than red!

  6. March 18, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Markets do some things well. Hamburgers and toys, movie tickets and soccer matches. But for most of the important things markets are clearly second best to government provision and regulated sales. Markets have no way to handle what economists call “externalities.” For example, markets for oil establish sales prices and terms, but can’t deal with the effects of pollution from oil or the wars that are waged over oil. Markets for medicine can assure sales availability but cannot deal with drug counterfeiting or theft. For externalities laws and law enforcement are necessary. Every time I hear an oil company or drug company argue this is not the case I anticipate many harms coming our way – from pollution to unsafe medicines to people going without electricity.

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