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The War on the Sick
December 26, 2016
by William P. Meyers

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Sick War and Fighting Back

On January 20, 2017, the newest government of the United States, led by Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell, is going to launch a war on sick people. The first weapons are bills being revised now, and will be hustled through Congress unless we rally to stop them.

It will take some time for new laws to go into effect, but they will fall like bombs on our cities and countryside starting some time in 2017. The casualty rate will be horrific.

The war has a number of parts, some of which will go into effect quickly, while others will take years to be of consequence. Most likely the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) will be wrecked first, followed by Medicaid, then Medicare, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the tax deduction for businesses buying health insurance for their employees. Also likely to be tossed into the dustbin of history are the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), job safety laws, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Soon tens of millions of Americans will see their healthcare costs go up. Many will choose to forego treatment. In the case of infectious diseases, this will result in plagues the U.S. has not seen since the 1950's, or even since the 1800's, plus new diseases like Ebola and Zika spreading unchecked.

First to the ovens: small business employees and freelancers

The first provision to go, most likely, will be Federal subsidies for health insurance policies issued under the Affordable Care Act. Once citizens start receiving bills that do not include the subsidies, they will drop out. They will have no choice; for most people there is no way to reallocate their budgets to cover that large of an increase. Anyone still in after the first year will drop out when 2018 rates appear because the healthy will not be there to subsidize those with preconditions. If those with high annual expenses are the only ones left in the plan, then the rates must go up to the point that even for the average sick person it will not pay to stay insured.

There was a time when most people received their medical insurance from employers. We now live in the freelance or gig economy, where a large percent of workers must pay for their own insurance. Many others work for businesses with workforces too small to be required to offer health insurance as a free benefit. And many businesses would like to boost their profits by only offering paid health insurance to their most valuable employees.

Next to the ovens: Medicaid recipients

Paul Ryan and friends consider people on Medicaid to be subhumans. They really do. As far as they are concerned, the sooner Medicaid people die, the better. But Medicaid has been around since 1965. So first they will throw out the people who were added to Medicaid rolls by the ACA. Then they will figure out how to close down Medicaid altogether. Sure, some states will create their own equivalents, but a lot of people are going to have to rely on private charity for medical help. I would suggest they stand outside various Trump properties and beg for alms.

Or surround Congress with a field hospital.

And then, goodbye Seniors

Seniors, except those who have invested and are multimillionaires, are a burden on industry according to Donald, Paul and Mitch. Cutting Medicare benefits is on the table, the only question is: how much to cut how soon? As long as it is a matter of something treatable with a cheap pill, Medicare will linger. Forget anything expensive like surgery or the newer miracle drugs. Those will be reserved for those who had the good sense to be born at least upper-middle class and who have saved up since then. If a home has to be sold to pay a hospital bill, why, that is only what is right and just in our free market economy.

A Shiny, New America

In the shiny, new America envisioned by Donald, Paul and Mitch, ten years from now only the healthy and wealthy will have survived. If you are healthy and poor you can do useful work. If you are wealthy you will be okay whether you work or not. With a healthy population medical costs as a % of GDP will be way down. That is what we need to compete with the Chinese, Russians, and the Islamic State. It worked for the Nazis until they made the mistake of invading Russia.

Or We Could Stop This Nonsense

The new health plan for America, by the way, is to be called TrumpDoesntCare, or TDC for short.

Sick people are usually too sick to spend a lot of time and energy fighting evil. But since everyone is the child or grandchild of an elderly person, and everyone is going to get seriously (and expensively) sick some day, it would make sense to Stop TDC before it happens. Or maybe even after it happens.

The weak point for the TDC plan is the U.S. Senate. If all the Democrats stand firm against TDC, then it would only take 3 Republican Senators opposing TDC to stop it in its tracks.

You would think you could easily find 3 Republican Senators who would have the decency to not engage in a war on the sick. After all, sick people vote, and seniors who are receiving Medicare, in particular, vote. So with a number of Senators facing re-election battles in 2018, there should be some leverage. Unfortunately most states right now are either strongly Republican or strongly Democratic. The re-election worries of Senators tend to focus on primaries. In a Republican primary failing to vote for TDC would open up incumbents to challenges from the right.

Still, it is the best bet for those of us who might get sick someday and want to have health insurance we can afford.

If TDC does pass I am in favor of more extreme measures.

Corporations or Crazy People?

The left tends to blame corporations for much of what is not right in America. In this particular case, I don't think the pharmaceutical companies, hospital corporations, or even insurers are to blame for the TDC proposals. They all seem to like Obamacare, which guarantees them a steady stream of profits.

Some of the more Neanderthal like corporate leaders do favor TDC, and would profit from its enactment, but they are the minority. Unfortunately Trump is putting them in his Cabinet and other positions of power.

TDC is driven by heartlessness and a crazy-ass ideology. The idea that society is a war between individuals, each willing to get material wealth even if it means cheating someone else, drives Donald, Paul, Mitch and their minions. It is called free-market capitalism. We tried that, in the U.S. for about 150 years, and got the Great Depression as a result. Now people have forgotten the Depression and its lessons.

It is sad when a child learns about the danger of heat by burning the flesh off their hands on a stove top. Hopefully people don't have to experience TDC to feel the burn. Hopefully we can have the sense to look out for Our Fellow Americans by stopping TDC in its tracks. Whatever the problems of our healthcare system, I don't think a majority of Americans want the old and sick to die in the streets. In fact I know that, because in the Presidential election, a majority of voters cast ballots for Hillary Clinton. She wanted to expand the ACA and Medicare, not close them down.

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