Everyday, we’re bombarded with the GOP’s style of “Chicken Little” politics:
Medicare is killing us. Medicaid is killing us. The Affordable Care Act/Obamacare is killing us! And if they don’t, Social Security will kill us! We’re all going to die and be buried in socialists’ cemeteries run by undocumented gay people, black people and Muslims. RUN!!!
It’s all hype; but its dangerous hype. Stop and think what it would be like if the GOP successfully cuts Medicare, Medicaid (and Social Security), and repeals the Affordable Care Act by any means necessary — if they can’t do it at the federal level, they’ll kill it at the state level. Millions more people will be left without health insurance. And replacing these plans with a voucher system is just plain stupid; especially when the voucher loses value over time.
In addition, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, the restrictions on health insurers from being able to deny coverage (among a host of other benefits) when you get sick will disappear. Imagine getting sick and having a government voucher to pay for your hospital stay that is redeemable through an insurance carrier who just dropped you as a customer.
And how does one get or even qualify for the GOP government health care voucher? Republicans have stated in the past that they will work with the American people. Will the GOP create a new government department of “Working with People who Have Vouchers.gov?” Will there be separate ones for the former agencies? Even if it’s privatized, someone will have to “oversee” these private entities so that they can have control of who gets what. Keep in mind, these are the folks who don’t believe in “big government.” It would not be fiscally prudent or politically smart to start new government agencies; might make them look like socialists.
Ironically, the cost of caring for the uninsured by hospitals is a significant factor in driving up the costs of insurance premiums and the cost of care for everyone else. The winners in this shell game are not you and me, its health industry CEOs, their shareholders and GOP deep pocket donors.
If your insurance carrier drops you because now you are sick and you no longer have the safety net of the Affordable Care Act which would have prevented the insurance company from dropping you in the first place — will these government-issued vouchers be redeemable directly at one’s local hospital, side stepping the insurance companies? That could cut into the insurance companies’ bottom line making this scenario rather doubtful.
Here’s the stark reality that the GOP prefers to ignore.
The US Health Department released a summary of a new report, The Value of Health Insurance: Few of the Uninsured Have Adequate Resources to Pay Potential Hospital Bills, stating that, “Every year, nearly 2 million uninsured Americans are hospitalized. With 58-percent of these hospital stays resulting in bills of more than $10,000, most uninsured people are unable to afford potential hospital bills.” If the rumor is true that these vouchers will be worth $8000, if your need more than one can you get it?
USHH’s summary also states that:
On average, uninsured families can only afford to pay in full for approximately 12-percent of hospital stays they may experience – and even higher income uninsured families are unable to pay for most potential hospital stays. Hospital stays for which the uninsured cannot pay in full account for 95-percent of the total amount hospitals bill the uninsured. Other studies have estimated that the bills for all types of health care that the uninsured cannot pay – the uncompensated cost of care – is up to $73 billion a year, a significant portion of which is shifted into higher costs for Americans with insurance and their employers.
So what’s the GOP plan again? Lose the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and replace them with privatization and government vouchers rumored to be worth $8,000 a pop (and if these methods don’t work, you’re on your own). Really?
Last Tuesday, Rep. Eric Cantor tried to explain it like this: “House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Tuesday that private healthcare plans ration care for profit but that consumers should be free to buy whatever coverage they can afford rather than depend on government rationing.” [….] And the difference between the government programs we have now and the GOP government voucher coupled with privatization is?
Cantor continues and gently eases in typical GOP Chicken Little politics with a “warning” that: “Democrats’ healthcare reform law mandates benefits that are too generous and will bankrupt the country as the government ends up having to offer ever-increasing subsidies. That can only lead to government rationing, he said. … “That doesn’t mean those kinds of decisions aren’t being made now by the private sector,” Cantor added, “because they are.”
Here are 12 benefits of the “Democrats’ healthcare reform law” that Republicans want to get rid of:
- Ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care. (versus $73 billion being spent now to cover uninsured before the GOP plan kicks in).
- Create a new, regulated marketplace where consumers can purchase affordable health care.
- Extend much-needed relief to small businesses.
- Improve Medicare by helping seniors and people with disabilities afford their prescription drugs. (Instead of eliminating it – fix it.)
- Prohibit denials of coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
- Limit out-of-pocket costs so that Americans have security and peace of mind.
- Help young adults by requiring insurers to allow all dependents to remain on their parents plan until age 26.
- Expand Medicaid to millions of low-income Americans.
- Provide sliding-scale subsidies to make insurance premiums affordable.
- Hold insurance companies accountable for how our health care dollars are spent.
- Clamp down on insurance company abuses.
- Invest in preventive care.
How is this “too generous?”
In her press release summarizing the department’s new report, Sec. Kathleen Sibelius states that, “When the uninsured cannot afford the care they receive, that cost must be absorbed by other payers. This is why expanding access to affordable health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is so important.”
The report also found that “[M]ost uninsured people have no savings … the median financial assets for all uninsured families are just $20. Even among higher income families, assets are low. Half of families with income at 400-percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), or $89,400 a year for a family of four in 2011, have financial assets below $4,100.”
We’ve been down this road with the GOP before — that’s why we elected President Obama. Buzzflash got it right in its editorial on Bill Maher’s commentary about the GOP’s spending habits and it’s Chicken Little politicking:
Beginning by debunking the “frames” that the GOP is strong on defense and budget reduction, Maher nailed the party as “packaging” that is contradicted by the facts. … The GOP ran up the deficit under Bush after Clinton had balanced the budget; 9/11 happened on their watch, even though Bush was warned of Osama bin Laden planning hijackings in the US (and Bush did nothing); it ran up the deficit further with unending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and ran up the deficit even further by twice increasing tax cuts for the most wealthy, even though we are in wars in two nations. … As BuzzFlash at Truthout has repeatedly noted, the GOP and its echo chamber, particularly on TV and radio, creates false information and scare tactics by repetition.
And now Republicans want to deal with the deficit they created by eliminating Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the Affordable Care Act (and other vital government agencies like the EPA, OSHA, etc.), while they continue to increase tax breaks to big corporations like GE, AIG and others, and the rich. And Republicans just voted to continue taxpayer subsidies to oil companies. And what do we get? A government voucher rumored to be worth about $8,000.
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