Tag Archives: Medicaid

GOP: the party of diversity in thought, philosophy

I want to toss a bouquet or two at the Republican Party.

The Grand Old Party has become the organization filled with diverse thoughts, philosophies, competing ideas. It is being revealed yet again as the GOP struggles over how to enact a bill that would overhaul the Affordable Care Act.

It wasn’t always this way.

A couple of generations ago, those of us of a certain age remember when the Democratic Party exemplified turmoil, tumult and tempest. The Vietnam War tore Democrats apart, had them ripping out the throats of their brethren. Republicans stood firm in support of that war.

The GOP would split in 1976 when conservative champion Ronald Reagan challenged President Ford’s election effort, only to lose narrowly at the party’s political convention.

Now we see Democrats standing as one in opposition to the GOP plan to dismantle the ACA and replace it with something else.

Republican moderates dislike the GOP alternative because it takes too much money from Medicaid. Republican conservatives hate it because they call it a “light” version of the ACA and are pushing for a more drastic departure from President Barack Obama’s landmark domestic legislative achievement.

Frankly, I find the intraparty debate refreshing and healthy for Republicans. There might be a purging after it’s all over. Whichever sides wins the argument will likely have to heal the rift that has developed with the other side, and vice versa.

I’ve always like diversity of thought. Democrats’ divisions in the 1960s and early 1970s cost them dearly over the course of many presidential election cycles. They would lose six of seven presidential elections from 1968 to 1988. Democrats eventually got their act together enough to win in 1992, 1996, 2008 and 2012.

It remains to be seen whether the current Republican political divide will cost that party as dearly as it did the Democrats. I believe, though, that the party’s struggle over health care overhaul will be ultimately good for its long-term future — if the GOP is able to cope with all this arguing.

CBO verdict is in: health care bill is ‘mean’

The Congressional Budget Office doesn’t use language such as “mean” to assess its analysis of legislation, but that’s what one can surmise of its latest analysis of a key Senate bill.

The CBO today turned in its “score” of the Senate Republican-passed health care legislation and it has told us:

* 22 million more Americans are going to be uninsured.

* The budget deficit will be cut more than $300 billion over the next decade, but that’s because of cuts in Medicaid spending for those Americans with financial need.

* There will be lower premiums, but there also will be less coverage.

It’s still a “mean” overhaul

Donald J. Trump said he wanted a less “mean” health care insurance plan than what the House of Representatives approved. The CBO score suggests that the Senate version of health care overhaul doesn’t make the grade.

Is the GOP plan in trouble? That depends on who’s doing the talking. Since this blog gives me a voice to speak out, I’ll suggest that Senate Republicans on the fence or leaning against the overhaul well might be inclined to vote “no” on this new plan if it comes to a vote later this week.

The president promised he wouldn’t touch Medicaid, that Americans who rely on Medicaid will continue to rely on it once he repealed and replaced the Affordable Care Act with something else.

It looks to me as though this promise won’t be kept.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has his work cut out for him as he looks for the votes to approve this bill.

Trump budget: DOA … of course!

Donald J. Trump’s proposed budget brings to mind a couple of thoughts about the president and the campaign he ran in 2016.

First, the president really is just another politician despite what he and his supporters said to the contrary during his amazing presidential election campaign. That is, he has made promises he cannot — or will not — keep to those who supported him.

Trump promised to leave the social safety net alone. His budget does nothing of the kind. It provides deep cuts to Medicaid, Meals on Wheels and other social programs upon which millions of Americans rely.

What’s more, he hits hard at farm subsidies important to rural Americans who turned out by the millions in 2016 to cast their votes for the flashy New York business mogul/reality TV celebrity.

His populist message, which he foisted on Americans who were willing to listen to it? Forget about it!

His budget provides big tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. And, oh yes. He also is proposing big spending increases in the defense budget — all while pledging to balance the budget in just 10 years.

The document sits at $4.1 trillion. Democrats hate it, quite naturally. Many congressional Republicans dislike it as well. It’s the GOP side of Congress that is more interesting to watch, given the peril they face as the 2018 mid-term election approaches.

Both sides are declaring the president’s budget to be “dead on arrival.” That’s standard operating rhetoric for members of Congress, no matter the party affiliation of the president who sends them a budget.

This much is clear: Donald Trump is going to get yet another real-time lesson on how the federal government works. As the saying goes, the president proposes, while Congress disposes of budgets.

Planned Parenthood scores needed court victory

Planned Parenthood is back in the Medicaid game in Texas, thanks to a ruling by a U.S. district judge.

This is good news for low-income patients who need state help in obtaining care such as cancer screenings or birth-control consultations.

Of course, the ruling by Judge Sam Sparks reignites the debate over whether Planned Parenthood operates with a callous disregard for human life by peddling “fetal tissue.”

Judge Sparks, who was appointed to the federal bench by fervently pro-life President George H.W. Bush in 1991, said his decision restores Planned Parenthood ability to participate in the state’s Medicaid program which offers health care at heavily reduced prices for those who request it.

At issue — as always — are those heavily edited video recordings of Planned Parenthood staffers discussing what to do with the remains of fetuses. No one has been charged with any illegal activity, I should add. Yet the state attorney general’s office has maintained that the video reveals callous and cavalier attitudes from Planned Parenthood staffers toward the rights of unborn children.

“After reviewing the evidence currently in the record, the Court finds the Inspector General, and thus [the Texas Health and Human Services Commission], likely acted to disenroll qualified health care providers from Medicaid without cause,” Sparks’ ruling read. “Such action would deprive Medicaid patients of their statutory right to obtain health care from their chosen qualified provider.”

“No taxpayer in Texas should have to subsidize this repugnant and illegal conduct,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “We should never lose sight of the fact that, as long as abortion is legal in the United States, the potential for these types of horrors will continue.”

Illegal conduct? No one has determined definitively that anything “illegal” has occurred, Mr. Attorney General.

The state keeps playing politics with the health care needs of Texans. Judge Sparks’ ruling no doubt will be appealed, as Paxton has promised. Fine. Take it all the way.

My own view is that Planned Parenthood performs valuable and wide-ranging health-related services to those who need it, but who cannot afford it without state assistance.

As for abortions, it remains legal in this country for a woman to terminate a pregnancy — no matter how fervently many Americans believe the law should be changed.

I also should add that Congress long ago prohibited the use of federal money to pay for an abortion. Therefore, this highly charged issue has become a giant distraction in the overall issue of the health care needs that Planned Parenthood fulfills.