Tag Archives: Affordable Care Act

Government is nothing like a business

We all have heard at least one political candidate say something like this: “I am going to insist that we run the government like a business.”

Donald John Trump Sr. took that boast to a spectacular level while campaigning for the presidency in 2016. He kept pointing to his business empire; he kept reminding us how rich he is; he said he would bring all of his immense business acumen into the White House, that he would get things done.

“It will be easy!” he bellowed time and again.

His election as president has shown us all — if not the president himself — that governing bears no resemblance to business.

All those “easy” tasks have become “hard.” Repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act? Exterminating the Islamic State? Reforming the federal tax code?

One man cannot do those things by himself. The president needs Congress to assist him. He needs the legislative branch to do its part. He needs to cajole and convince those who oppose him to support him.

Trump entered the political arena from a different universe. He parlayed an inheritance handed him by his father into a substantial business empire. He became the CEO of everything named “Trump.” He didn’t have to answer to anyone. Trump snapped his fingers and things got done. His sole goal was to enrich himself.

His business ventures have produced a mixed record. He’s had great success and great failures along the way.

Donald Trump brought that all of that business experience into a world that bears zero resemblance to the world that he departed.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said Trump had set “excessive expectations” on how quickly he could enact his agenda. What is so wrong with that analysis? It makes perfect sense to many of us. A man with no government experience — and who exhibits no interest in learning how government works — expects to rack up achievements in the manner he did when he was the business empire CEO.

I’ve noted for many years that running government like a business is the height of naivete. Businesses do not operate under the principle of co-equal partnerships, but that’s what Donald Trump inherited when he took that presidential oath.

The president is learning — and I use the term “learning” with extreme caution — the hard way.

Health care is ‘hard,’ yes, Mr. President?

What once was “easy” has become “hard.”

So said the president of the United States. Yep, Donald J. Trump has told TV interviewers that efforts to overhaul health care legislation is a “hard” task, that it’s going to take time.

Who knew?

Certainly not the man who, while running for president, called it “easy.” He boasted from many campaign podiums that he would repeal the Affordable Care Act almost immediately upon taking office and replace it with … um, something else.

“It’s easy!” he bellowed.

Sure thing, bub.

It’s not so easy. The American Health Care Act barely cleared the House of Representatives. Now it’s the Senate’s turn to discuss and debate this matter. Except that only Republicans are doing the dickering; Democrats aren’t in the game.

And, oh yes. Now we have five Republican senators saying they dislike the current Senate legislation “in its current form.” The Senate, with a 52-48 GOP majority, can afford to lose only two votes; that would result in a tie and Vice President Mike Pence could cast the deciding vote, as he did when the Senate confirmed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to her Cabinet job.

So, the president bragged and blustered about the ease of overhauling one-sixth of the nation’s economy. Today’s reality is telling him the hard truth, which is that legislating is a complicated job.

It’s hard, man!

13 men writing major legislation — affecting women

There’s a certain sense of astonishment at this bit of news.

Thirteen members of the U.S. Senate have written a draft of a bill that affects one-sixth of the nation’s gross domestic product.

They’re all Republicans; no Democrats are allowed.

They’re all men.

And here’s the astonishing part of it: The draft legislation seeks to eliminate all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, a leading provider of health care services for women.

Where are the women of the Senate? Why are none of them working on this bill?

It’s like the Senate has become a boys’ club. I am now waiting for the sign on the conference room door that tells us “No girls allowed.”

This is how you produce legislation affecting such a huge portion of the national economy? This is how the Senate Republican leadership is developing a bill that seeks to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

It’s un-democratic. It’s un-American.

If you’re going to craft legislation that has a tangible impact on more than half of the nation’s population, it should be incumbent on lawmakers to include members of that demographic — the women of this nation — in putting it together.

GOP now reaping what it has sown

John Boehner was angry, man. He was furious when he took the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Republican congressman from Ohio was furious that Democrats had pushed a bill that sought to reform health care without even reading the massive piece of legislation.

He bellowed, blustered and berated his “friends” on the Democratic side of the floor for shoving this bill down the throats of their Republican colleagues.

Boehner’s anger was righteous.

The Affordable Care Act became law in 2010. Boehner would eventually become House speaker. He would file a lawsuit to get the law repealed. Speaker Boehner, though, bailed on public service after continuing to fight with the TEA Party wing of his Republican House caucus. He’d had enough.

Then the 2016 election occurred. Donald J. Trump was elected president. He promised to “repeal and replace” the ACA. This past week, the GOP-controlled House approved a bill we’ll call “Trumpcare.” It’s an alternative to the ACA. It passed by just four votes out of 430 cast in the House.

But wait! Did the GOP leadership know what was in the bill? Did they read the legislation? Did their GOP caucus members read it? Do they know all the nuts and bolts of it?

Hah! Hardly.

They’ve repeated the sin of their colleagues. Does it make their effort to “shove it down Democrats’ throats” any more palatable? Not in the least.

Instead, GOP House members are hearing loud and clear from their constituents a ringing message: The folks back home don’t like what they’ve passed and what they have foisted onto the Senate for its consideration.

Meanwhile, the president who has crowed about keeping his campaign pledge now has to persuade the Senate to follow the House’s lead. Trump, the guy with zero government experience or knowledge of how it works on Washington, D.C., is going to┬árecieve yet another lesson in how Congress just doesn’t do the president’s bidding whenever he barks the order.

And those Republican members of the House of Representatives who voted for Trumpcare are going to get a taste of what they sought to deliver to Democrats in 2010.

Payback truly is a bitch … you know?

‘Nobody dies’ because they lack health care?

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador needs to have his mouth washed out with soap.

The Idaho Republican went home this week, stood before a town hall crowd, and said this in response to a statement from one of his constituents:

“Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”

That was the wrong thing to say, young man.

The Lewiston, Idaho, crowd shouted him down. They hooted, hollered, hissed. Why? The answer is clear: They disagreed with Rep. Labrador’s silly assertion.

Of course people have died because they can’t get health care!

Rep. Labrador┬áhad just voted for the Trumpcare proposal that repeals the Affordable Care Act and replaces it with the Republican-crafted alternative. It passed the House by the thinnest of margins, 217-213 and now heads to the Senate, where it’s likely to be torn up, tossed into the trash bin;┬ásenators then will write their own version of health care overhaul.

Other lawmakers have gone home and they, too, will get a bellyful of bitching from their constituents over the vote that the House has just cast.

A word to the wise to the rest of them: Don’t repeat Raul Labrador’s silly comment.

‘Trumpcare’ it will be

Barack Obama’s critics have relished the opportunity to call his landmark health insurance overhaul legislation “Obamacare.”

I chose a while ago to forgo that term, preferring to call it by its official name: the Affordable Care Act. Any reference to the “Obamacare” would acknowledge that’s the term others have hung on it. The former president himself eventually would refer to the ACA by the term used by his critics.

Obama no longer is in office. Donald J. Trump is now the president. Trump has pushed another piece of legislation. It is called the American Health Care Act.

In the spirit of those who were so highly critical of the president’s predecessor, I am now preferring to refer to the AHCA as “Trumpcare.”

Hey, I am as critical of the current president as Barack H. Obama’s critics were of him. My loathing for Donald J. Trump entitles me, therefore, to refer to his version of health care overhaul as Trumpcare.

Trump assails media yet again

Why is it that the Fake News rarely reports Ocare is on its last legs and that insurance companies are fleeing for their lives? It’s dead!

That, dear reader, is one of Donald J. Trump’s latest tweets in a Twitter tirade he launched late today against the national news media.

I find it fascinating.

The president accuses the media of failing to report that the Affordable Care Act is collapsing.

Excuse me, Mr. President?

Trump and his allies keep saying it. The media keep reporting it. It’s no longer a novel notion.

I happen to disagree with the president’s assertion about the ACA. Isn’t that fair enough? He’s entitled to his opinion, while others are entitled to theirs — even if they are at odds with what the president says or believes.

The road ahead for the bill that the House approved to replace the ACA remains full of land mines. The U.S. Senate isn’t likely to adopt the House’s version of health care overhaul.

The media’s job is to report the progress of that journey regardless of whether it’s positive news or negative news for the Trump administration.

You can bet your last nickel, though, that the media are reporting precisely what the president is saying, which includes pronouncements about the future of the Affordable Care Act.

As if we needed reminding … POTUS is clueless

Donald J. Trump’s endorsement of the Australian universal health care system confirms what many of us have thought for as long as this individual has been involved in politics.

He doesn’t know anything. Not about public policy. Or governance. Or public service. Nothing outside the realm of personal enrichment and self-aggrandizement.

The president and his Republican colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives had just passed a bill that repeals the Affordable Care Act and replaces it with something called the American Health Care Act. Then he jetted to New York and sat next to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull — and then lauded the Australian health care system.

The president said we should pattern our system after the Aussies’ system of providing universal health care for every citizen. How do they do it? The government pays for it.

But wait! Didn’t the GOP members of Congress want to do away with government mandates? Didn’t they insist on letting the marketplace set the price for health care insurance? Haven’t they been savaging the ACA as some sort of “socialized medicine” scheme cooked up by the socialists ensconced in the White House, led by President Barack Obama?

The GOP’s main man, the president of the United States, just endorsed a government-run health care system that reportedly works pretty well for the people it serves.

The president doesn’t know anything! He is utterly and completely unaware of the very public policy he says he favors.

He’s been involved in politics for less than two years. He rode down the escalator at Trump Tower in June 2015 to announce his presidential campaign. He got elected and has continued almost daily to demonstrate his absolute ignorance of the office he now holds and the awesome responsibility he has assumed.

I truly don’t expect him to learn all there is to know about everything in such a short span of time. However, it wasn’t too much to expect that he at least had some semblance of a grasp of policy matters before deciding to run for president of the United States.

Cheers have ‘Mission Accomplished’ ring to them

All that back-slapping and high-fiving at the White House today seems a bit premature — to say the very least.

Congressional Republicans sauntered down from Capitol Hill to the White House to congratulate themselves for approving a measure that repeals the Affordable Care Act and replaces it with the American Health Care Act.

“Today we made history by taking the first important step toward rescuing hardworking families from the failures and skyrocketing costs of Obamacare,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise,┬á┬áR-La., said in a statement.

They all are members of the House of Representatives. The bill, which passed 217-213 — with zero Democratic votes — now must go to the Senate, where their fellow Republicans are sending signals that the House bill is dead on arrival. It’s a goner. The Senate is going to craft an entirely different bill.

As The Hill reported: “The bill, known as the American Health Care Act, repeals the core elements of ObamaCare, including its subsidies to help people get insurance coverage, expansion of Medicaid, taxes and mandates for people to get coverage.

“In its place, the bill provides a new tax credit aimed at helping people buy insurance, though it would provide less help than ObamaCare to low-income people.”

The Hill also reported: “The measure is expected to undergo a major overhaul in the Senate, especially on the Medicaid front, where several Republican senators from states that accepted the expansion are wary of cutting it off.”

Cheers are quite premature

I was reminded of another celebratory moment in recent U.S. history.

It was in 2003 and President George W. Bush flew onto the deck of an aircraft carrier, jumped out of the jet aircraft wearing a flight suit, changed his duds and then delivered a speech under a banner that declared “Mission Accomplished.”

The president was saluting the capture of the late dictator Saddam Hussein, who our troops pulled out of a spider hole in which he was hiding. The Iraqi dictator was put on trial, convicted and hanged.

The Iraq War, though, raged on … and on … and on. Thousands of American service personnel were killed and injured for years as they sought to bring the fighting under control.

The “Mission Accomplished” banner was premature in the extreme.

So was today’s GOP cork-popping at the White House.

Get set for next fight over health care overhaul

Congressional Republicans kept their vow to vote — no matter what — on repealing the Affordable Care Act.

It was a squeaker, 217 “yes” votes to 213 “no” votes. Every congressional Democrat voted “no,” which gives the minority a faint claim of bipartisanship, as some moderate Republicans joined them in voting against the Trumpcare health bill.

I want to make only a couple of observations about this effort.

First, Republicans yapped and yammered that Democrats shoved the ACA down the GOP’s throats in 2010. The GOP response was to do precisely the same thing to Democrats. Payback is a bitch, right?

The GOP throat-shoving, though, took on a little different tone than what the Democrats did in 2010. President Obama tried to get Republicans to sign on, but was unsuccessful. Donald J. Trump didn’t make that effort; neither did House Speaker Paul Ryan. Oh, no. They relied on their healthy Republican majority to win the day — barely, it turns out — in a now-or-never vote on the House floor.

Second, the initial effort to repeal the ACA and replace it with the American Health Care Act, ran into a Congressional Budget Office “score” that told a grim story of 24 million Americans losing their health insurance under the new plan.

This time the GOP didn’t bother to wait for the CBO to “score” this latest rendition of the replacement bill. Republicans forged ahead anyway. Damn the scoring! Who needs to know how this is going to affect Americans?

Oh, and the polls around the country indicate a growing base of support for the ACA. Hmm. Imagine that. The House of Representatives isn’t exactly representing its constituents.

The AHCA now heads to the Senate, where it faces an even steeper climb than it had in the House. The GOP majority in the upper chamber is pretty skimpy and the Republicans cannot afford to lose any support among their ranks. The initial signs don’t look good for final approval in the Senate.

House Republicans sought to win over reluctant conservatives by sweetening the pie for them; then they assuaged some moderate GOP concerns by tossing in some money to pay for those with pre-existing medical conditions.

What say you, senators?

Now it falls on the Senate to decide what to do with this legislation that doesn’t yet have any analysis on how much it will cost and how many Americans might lose their insurance.

Meanwhile, House Republicans are back-slapping each other like crazy. They said they’d cast that vote to repeal President Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

They got the job done. Now they can go home for their 11-day recess. I would bet real American money they’re going to run into a good bit anger among the home folks.