Welcome to Buster's Blog

Irregular commentary on whatever's on my mind -- politics, sports, current events, and life in general. After twenty years of writing business and community newsletters, fifteen years of fantasy baseball newsletters, and two years of email "columns", this is, I suppose, the inevitable result: the awful conceit that someone might actually care to read what I have to say. Posts may be added often, rarely, or never again. As always, my mood and motivation are unpredictable.

Buster Gammons

Thursday, May 4, 2017

I Guess They're Trying To Kill Me

The GOP-controlled U.S.House will vote today on their latest health care brain fart -- a scheme to give a tax cut to the wealthy by gutting Medicaid and isolating those with pre-existing conditions in unaffordable high-risk premium pools.  Their plan would mean 24 million people would lose their coverage, and premiums would rise out of control for anyone who wasn't young, bullet-proof and ten feet tall.  (And that's a whole lot of people.)

Check out these estimated annual premiums for those with pre-existing conditions, if this god-awful plan were to be enacted into law.  Your humble correspondent resides on the top line, and I'm here to tell ya, $140,000 a year is just not gonna work for me, or anyone else for that matter.  Note also that, in true free market fashion, insurance companies will be happy to classify things like pregnancy, arthritis and autism as pre-existing conditions.

If insurance companies are allowed to charge you more, they will.  If they are allowed to reduce your benefits, they will.  The leopard does not change its spots.

The plan is overwhelmingly unpopular with everyone in America except House Republicans, and their rush-rush House vote today is driven by an additional $8 billion earmarked for high-risk coverage.  This amount has persuaded some R's to change their vote from no to yes.  Anyone who votes yes on this basis is a blithering idiot.  The extra $8 billion is a drop in the bucket.  The bill's funding for their magic high-risk pool idea is still pathetically insufficient.  It just won't work, which is the sad history of high-risk pools.  They fail.

In this case, data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, and the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates the bill should provide $327 billion in order to have a modestly subsidized high-risk pool.  The bill already included up to $130 billion for that purpose.  Bumping it up another $8 billion will have little impact.  It's still not nearly enough.

But House R's don't give a shit about that.  They believe that keeping a stupid, unpopular political promise is more important than any sense of moral obligation to their fellow citizens.  The rat bastards are willing to price me out of coverage and kill me off quickly just so they can offer lower premiums to others.

The Republican approach to health care continues to be punitive to the sick, and totally bass-ackwards overall.  They reject the concept of group insurance in favor of individually underwritten coverage.  They wish to isolate me and others like me with serious health problems and make us pay exorbitant costs for our sin of becoming ill.  They're not sick, so why should they pay a nickel for someone who is?

Because that time, that need, will come for all of us, even for Republicans.  The genius of group insurance is that it spreads the risk, it doesn't segregate it on Exile Island.  And the bigger the group, the better it works.  The young, healthy inexpensive members do in fact subsidize the costs of the older, sicker, higher-cost members.  But time marches on, and inevitably those in the first segment will become those in the second, and then they'll appreciate the young and healthy cohort subsidizing their health care costs when they really need it.  Over the long haul, costs are controlled and everyone benefits.  A high-risk pool, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of group coverage.

The GOP House plan is malicious.  I hope it doesn't pass, but it might.  Obamacare is far superior, and is preferred by the vast majority of Americans.  Obamacare works.  Let's leave it in place, and work toward universal single-payer coverage; Medicare for all.    

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