We Stopped Talking About Trump’s Health Care Plan, but It Still Sucks

As righties yell about mental health's role in gun violence, don't forget their attacks on access to mental health care.

Insofar as the Trump administration plans anything, the plans it does come up with are usually garbage. There is no clearer example of their lack of integrity and interest in factual reality than the Trump-GOP assault on American health care.

If you can think of an institution or industry more closely tied to a nation’s standard of living than health care, this writer defies you to name it. However, this fact seems lost on an administration that is putting reckless ideology and the interests of private profit before the needs of ordinary and especially at-risk Americans.

Health care seemed to have finally emerged as a big deal in America in 2017, but as is tradition these days, the media circus pivoted away before we had anything close to closure. This is understandable — the gun control debate certainly deserves its moment, too, in the wake of several recent preventable tragedies. America can’t solve more than one problem at once.

In fact, we can’t solve even one problem at once, because the Trump administration and the GOP are capitalizing on a media hurricane they actively help fuel. Its aim is to push through a historically unpopular agenda that would leave millions more Americans indentured to unnecessary need and a totally preventable lack of basic resources.

What Is the Trump-GOP Coalition Doing to Health Care?

Let’s not waste time being vague. Here is the Trump-Republican-Conservative-Libertarian fever dream for health care in America, which is already partially accomplished:

· The Trump administration’s health department has cast doubt on whether it would continue to enforce the individual health insurance mandate, which is expected to further destabilize the insurance marketplaces.

· Rules proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services to loosen restrictions on low-cost catastrophic health care plans are expected to destabilize premiums for the elderly and for people who rely on their insurance coverage for peace of mind.

· The administration has reduced the Affordable Care Act’s advertising budget by 90 percent and committed to taking HealthCare.gov offline during peak usage hours every single Sunday, which will only fuel the confusion surrounding American health care and keep additional at-risk families in the dark about how the exchange can work to meet their needs.

Virtually every move proposed — as well as those already undertaken — by the Trump administration and its appeasers in the Republican Party is expected by experts to do far more damage, over a far greater period, than it claims to ameliorate. Even the simplest of facts seems to have escaped their calculus, the most important of which is that insurance of any kind gets cheaper as the pool of insured persons gets larger.

Research undertaken by Urban Institute predicts the following fallout from the Republican war on affordable health care and their disregard for the laws of action-reaction:

· An additional 6.4 million uninsured persons by 2019

· An expected average rise of 18.2 percent for health care premiums in 43 of 50 states

· A 9.3 percent rise in government spending on health care by 2019.

Make no mistake: Obamacare represented the framework of universal socialized health care. It shifted things in the proper direction — but its huge failure was allowing insurance companies to retain their ownership of the system rather than transforming it into a more public utility the way other developed nations have. It’s an oversight that Trump and his Republicans have been practically giddy about pouncing on.

The Obamacare insurance exchanges are state-facilitated marketplaces for selling insurance. They are partially socialized in the form of subsidies and tax breaks for middle-income and poor Americans. Trumpcare doesn’t change any of this — it’s literally just a worse version.

The public and private sectors still commingle in an upsetting patchwork of confusing federal laws and contradictory statewide ones. However, Trumpcare gives even more latitude to private, for-profit insurance carriers to dictate who is eligible for affordable health care and who is not. The ACA told insurance carriers they had to play by civilized rules. Trump and Republicans want to tear up that rulebook.

Under both presidential administrations, medicine in America is still, fundamentally, a for-profit institution. No matter how we change the window dressing, it’s always going to be unacceptable in a nation that pretends at civility and exceptionalism.

Yes — Trumpcare is the same as Obamacare in all the ways that matter and all the ways that hold us back as a nation. It just has the distinction of costing way more and insures far fewer people. It betrays every promise the GOP has made to anyone who isn’t a campaign contributor.

Grassroots Activism Doing What the Media Can’t

As we’ve discussed, the country can’t spare the mental bandwidth to tackle two crises at once: health care under siege by kleptocrats and our children’s safety in school under siege by weapons salespeople masquerading as members of Congress.

Thankfully, even the lightning-fast news cycle hasn’t deterred grassroots and nonprofit efforts from their struggles to bring about consequential change in American health care. The phrase “single-payer health care system” is on just about everybody’s lips these days.

Many groups have mobilized in the name of winning basic human dignity through universal access to health care — not health insurance. Within the walls of the Senate, the indefatigable Bernie Sanders has rallied one-third of Democratic senators to the cause of single-payer health care system.

It’s clear the pieces are there, and the American people want universal health care by a margin that widens with each new poll. Recent numbers indicate 60 percent of Americans want the government to ensure health coverage for all, with 33 percent of those supporting a single-payer system.

Remember this: While Republicans have retreated to their last partially defensible explanation for America’s epidemic of gun violence — “Mental health did it!” — this administration still appears intent on the wholesale destruction of the health insurance marketplace in America. It clearly doesn’t care about mental nor any other type of health care.

For a group of people who believe the government ought not to meddle in people’s affairs, they spend an extraordinary amount of time getting between people and the solutions to their worries.

Comments
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Philip Carino
Philip Carino

The mistakes of Obamacare should have been dealt with while all the other good things it provides like universal access were retained. Trumpcare was still a setback

Pat Greer
Pat Greer

Editor

The GOP seems happy with any alternative that is “Just not Obama Care”. As is evident by the damning policies Trumpcare has toward the American people. This is not an opinion, just a fact based off what it does. No where in Trumpcare or any gop lead health plan did they seek to improve upon the framework of the ACA . It is one of the many examples of a congress that is more concerned with Larry politics than helping the American people #sad

Jon Saltzman
Jon Saltzman

Editor

But Obamacare wasn't the answer. We need basic coverage for all people and that includes mental health care.

Jon Saltzman
Jon Saltzman

Editor

I'm still in favor of single payer healthcare despite my conservative view- I just think that the horse is out of the barn on this issue, It's not an economic issue anymore but an expectation

A_Chapman
A_Chapman

Editor

This is a great reminder to keep talking about and working on this issue. I support universal health coverage but I think the ACA was a terrible piece of legislation. Does anyone think there is anything in it that can or should be salvaged? Or would it be better to just just scrap it completely and start fresh with a totally new system?

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