Tag Archives: Medicaid

Promise made … promise broken

Donald Trump made a solemn vow while campaigning for the presidency of the United States of America.

He said he wouldn’t be a typical Republican. He said he would leave Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security spending alone. He wouldn’t touch them. He would solve the nation’s budgetary woes — as he defined them — without laying a hand on those valuable social programs.

So, what does the president do when he presents his fiscal year 2020 federal budget? He proposes cuts to Medicare by $845 billion, cuts for Medicaid by $1.5 trillion and reduces Social Security spending by $25 billion.

His record-setting budget of $4.75 trillion does add money for the Department of Defense.

Broken promises

My point here is that Donald Trump persuaded many American voters that he would leave these coveted programs alone.

OK, he has officially stuck it in our household’s eye. My wife and I are retired Americans. We draw from our Social Security accounts and we also depend on Medicare to help with our health care needs; I also have Veterans Administration benefits to assist with my health care issues.

Is this the bargain the nation got when it elected this promise-breaker president of the United States?

TEA Party? Where have you gone?

Don’t you remember when the 2010 midterm election produced a “shellacking” of the Democrats? It was delivered by what was then called the TEA Party.

Eight years ago, the TEA Party was the dominant insurgent force within the Republican Party. The TEA Party comprised Republicans who were fed up with being taxed too much.

Indeed, in recent years I’ve been using the term “TEA Party” in all capital letters, because it was born of a movement that proclaimed itself to be “Taxed Enough Already,” hence TEA Party is an acronym.

The TEA Party drove then-House Speaker John Boehner — a leader of the “establishment wing” of the Republican Party — to just this side of nuts. Indeed, U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Clarendon Republican and a friend/ally of Boehner, told me he believed Boehner was going to bail from the House because he was tired of battling the rebels within his GOP caucus.

It turned out Thornberry was right. Boehner quit the speakership and the House in 2015. He’d had enough.

The TEA Party has its share of lawmakers who’ve taken their message forward. Ted Cruz of Texas is one of them.

But since about 2016, we hear less of the TEA Party and more of another insurgent group of Republican lawmakers calling themselves the Freedom Caucus. It, too, is a low-tax outfit committed to cutting government spending on programs that have become part of the national fabric. You know, programs such as Medicare, Medicaid … those kinds of things.

The Freedom Caucus has picked up where the TEA Party (seemingly) left off in opposing the Affordable Care Act. They want to repeal the ACA, but I haven’t heard about whether to simply repair the ACA, make it better, preserve those elements of it that are working.

The Freedom Caucus has become every bit the political gadfly that the TEA Party became to the point of sending a speaker of the House of Representatives packing in the middle of his term.

It’s not that I miss the TEA Party. I don’t. I’m just wondering out loud how these movements come and go and how replacement insurgencies come to the fore.

I happen to favor good government, not necessarily big government. The TEA Party — wherever it is — wants to gut government. As one who appreciates the role government plays to improve people’s lives, I wouldn’t mind one bit if the TEA Party would simply vanish, never to be heard from again.

Same for the Freedom Caucus.

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.