The Zombie Apocalypse of Republican Health Care Proposals

Newark  I don’t really watch these “living dead” zombie shows, but I’m starting to get the picture by following the various Republican proposals to “repeal and replace” the Obama Affordable Care Act. Here’s my question though? In the movies and television shows are each generation of zombies more disgusting and worse than the ones that came before them?

Certainly that is the case with the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill to take one more shot at this for the right wing before they would have to obtain more than a simple majority of Senators to push these horrors onto the American people. September 30th is the “expire by date” on the Republicans ability to make mischief with 50 votes, rather than having to go bipartisan with a super-majority.

Let’s look at this version of the healthcare apocalypse though.

A spokesperson for Kaiser Healthcare said it was almost impossible to imagine a bill so bad that it hurt even more people and that had less support from anyone.

Blue Cross/ Blue Shield, AARP, and other insurers, who have been largely silent in earlier versions of the bill, have all mobilized to oppose this version because they argue it will wreck havoc with insurance markets by destroying a national system and making it a state by state battleground.

Thirty-six states will immediately get less money from the Graham-Cassidy bill, if it succeeds. The pain will be especially pronounced in some of the blue states like New York, California, and Oregon, and generally in those states that expanded Medicaid for their citizens, but even the fourteen states that might see themselves as “winners,” have to understand it’s only temporary. By the 2020s part of the impact of this bill is not the simple devolution of healthcare responsibilities and the money that pays for them from the federales to the states, but a cutting of Medicaid dollars period, which will create a huge hole in state budgets everywhere and reduce many red states in the South to the healthcare delivery standards of third-world nations.

Economists argue that even the sponsors of the bill don’t seem to have a clear idea what’s in the language. For example, Cassidy and Graham have claimed it continues to protect those with preexisting conditions, but reading the bill it’s just not in there.

There is no cost estimate on the bill from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office nor is there a score on how many will lose coverage under this bill. The best estimate is that 30 million will be pushed off of insurance.

So, why are we worrying that this zombie may end up ruling our world, rather than having a stake driven through its heart? God knows, but it seems to be just a case of politics divorced from the impact of health and harm to the public. The Republicans are so desperate to fulfill an absurd promise that they willing to pretend a mangy dog is Lassie on the way to save you.

If there’s something you can do, do it now, before this zombie stalks the land and leaves million dead or dying.


Republicans “Hail Mary” Healthcare Repeal is Blocked at the Goal Line

Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Little Rock   Leaving the KABF board meeting last evening, I stopped into the offices of the Arkansas Community Organizations, the old Arkansas ACORN, to see if they had gotten back from actions in Washington trying to block the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. There was a full house. I thanked one of the women who had been arrested trying to get the attention and support of the solidly Republican Arkansas delegation. They were all back home, safe and sound. We scratched our heads at the impossibility of understanding what a so-called “skinny” repeal might be, and went on our way.

I woke up to find that Arizona’s Senator John McCain, former Republican presidential candidate and Vietnam war prisoner and hero, still recovering from surgery and a likely fatal diagnosis of aggressive cancer, had cast the deciding vote to defeat the “skinny” repeal 51-48, joining two other Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski from Alaska and Susan Collins from Maine along with all Democratic Senators. Who knows the full list of McCain’s reasons, though his comments about the secretive and exclusionary process that Majority Leader McConnell had used to write and bring the matters forward, had long been dismissive and hypercritical. Collins for her part has long been critical of the Republican bills and especially the singling out of Planned Parenthood for defunding. Murkowski understands the need in Alaska for coverage from the lobbying of hunters, fisherman and others who have pleaded with her to keep the protection, but she also may have straightened her back in response to the ham-handed bullying the White House had tried to orchestrate using the secretary of the Interior Department, even though Murkowski herself as head of one committee on natural resources and a subcommittee on appropriations effectively holds the whip hand over Interior’s budget.

But, who cares the reasons, as long as the result is right in this case, because this whole process and its future prospects, had it been approved, was rotten to the core and a perversion of democracy, good government, and sound policy. It starts at the point the bill was being presented as a budgetary matter, even though it is larded up with everything under the sun from eliminating Planned Parenthood to removing essential coverage and mandates. Remember the Parliamentarian had already warned them these items were subject to challenge because they were out of bounds. McConnell had adopted this secretive and controversial strategy for the simple reasons that he doesn’t have the 60 votes to stop a filibuster and doesn’t want to work for a bipartisan fix on healthcare that would mean having to work with the Democrats. In the end he has also proven he doesn’t even have 50 votes at this point.

Furthermore, the strategy was to try and put a ribbon on a garbage bag, and then pass it over to the House so that maybe in a conference between the House and Senate, they could compact something together, since the House had already passed a draconian bill earlier. Several Senators, including McCain had demanded assurances from Speaker Ryan and the House, and he was trying to help them. How is this democratic? The peoples’ representatives can’t share the process with the people, but then go to another closed process to sort it out. Ryan reminded them in an aside that they would still have to get to 51 votes even after everything went through the grinder.

We’re dealing with a Republican healthcare replace-and-repeal zombie apocalypse. Is it really dead now except for Trump’s twitter rants? How will they fix what needs to be fixed? Will this ugly head be raised again? How many goal line stands can we win?