Pulse of the Peninsula: Our eyes turn to Cuomo for health care

Pulse of the Peninsula: Our eyes turn to Cuomo for health care

At this writing, no one has seen or knows what’s in the health care bill being concocted in secret by 13 Senate Republican men; by the time of publication, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, invoking Rule 14 so that the bill doesn’t require any hearings or amendments, may well have already rammed it through the Senate with only minutes for the other 87 Senators to look over what is likely to be hundreds of pages — it’s his intention to have a vote before July 4.

What does it say that 13 Republican men are meeting in secret to come up with a health care law that will mean life/death and quality of life for every single American, not to mention that the health care industry represents 1/6 of the entire economy?

That they are treating Democrats as if they are foreign aliens rather than representatives of more than half the country, let alone bothering to get any kind of expertise from health providers, from patients, from local officials?

How sick that Trump cheers the Senate version (wonder if he even knows what is in it), and actually blasts the House Republicans’ version as “mean” and “harsh”— the very bill he feted in the Rose Garden when it passed — but now asserts (in that hyperbolic grandiose manner we have come to expect) that the Senate bill will be “generous.” Really? Based on what?

America’s health care system is already in freefall, thanks to Trump’s Day One executive actions which eliminated enforcing the Obamacare mandate that individuals and businesses have health insurance. Insurance providers have been pulling out or raising premiums ever since, mainly because of the uncertainty the Trump policies created which make it impossible to do business.

Trump’s proposed budget builds on that assault, cutting subsidies so that the very existence of rural health clinics and hospitals is threatened. And if you look at the New York Times’ map of where there are only one or no insurance providers for the Obamacare health exchanges, they are all dominated by Republicans.

Isn’t that telling. Indeed, as has been well reported, Trumpcare would hurt a big chunk of Trump voters the most. But also everyone else.

I don’t think people realize that while Obamacare was intended to help the 20 percent of Americans (50 million people) who did not get subsidized health insurance through their employers, it also put into place protections for everyone (including not charging excessively for pre-existing conditions, capping non-patient share of premium costs at 20 percent, that children could stay on their parents’ policy up until age 26, even the requirement that businesses provide insurance to their employees or else give them money toward purchasing insurance on the Obamacare exchange) will all be gone for everyone.

Wellness care including an annual physical, mammograms, colonoscopies, and most assuredly contraception.

Gone for everyone. It will be a return to the bad-old days when bean-counters at for-profit insurance companies had the power of life & death, only worse. Health care — the ability to live a productive life without fear of needless suffering or premature death or impending bankruptcy — won’t be a right, it will be a privilege.

Democrats have said they are willing to work with Republicans on a bipartisan basis, provided the Republicans drop their politically motivated, ideological obsession with repealing Obamacare.

Democrats’ ideas include giving more power to the state insurance commissioners to prevent rates from going up; creating a public option; being “tougher” on drug companies; and expanding Medicare.

I’m frankly amazed that the Republicans have not seen fit to simply ask insurance providers how they could make the Affordable Care Act work better; or ask doctors or hospital administrators, or patients.

Because that’s not what Trumpcare is about — improving access and affordability of health care.

What Trumpcare is about is shifting $1 trillion in tax cuts and spending to the top 1% and corporations and turning everyone but the wealthy into serfs dependent upon the kindness of employers, wiping out anything approaching discretionary income.

And overturning anything that Obama accomplished, especially something as historic and important as revolutionizing American health care.

But like climate action, it may well be up to states and localities to do what they can.

Indeed, New York, which is a profit-center for the for-profit  insurance companies (and which has an aggressive grassroots activist network pushing the state to adopt a single-payer system), may set the standard for other states for health insurance coverage, just as California has largely dictated pollution standards to car companies, despite the federal government.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has directed the state Department of Financial Services to promulgate new emergency regulations mandating health insurance providers do not discriminate against New Yorkers with pre-existing conditions or based on age or gender, in addition to safeguarding the 10 categories of protections guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act.

He should be applauded for his leadership.

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