Archive | Fuck the Poor

Trump’s war on Social Security begins

Mick Mulvaney OMB Dir. student talk_18

Well, here we go. Trump’s new budget will be announced today, and it features massive cuts to Social Security disability. They are selling this to the media as “disability, not real Social Security,” and it’s up to us to stop them:

We pointed out back in March that Trump budget direct Mick Mulvaney displayed an alarming ignorance about Social Security disability benefits during an appearance on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

Now it turns out that there was method to his muttering. In effect, Mulvaney was telegraphing that the Trump White House was planning to cut disability benefits sharply. Axios reported Sunday that the Trump budget due out Tuesday will include $1.7 trillion in cuts to major social insurance and assistance programs, including food stamps, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Social Security disability.

Any cut to disability would be a major violation of Trump’s oft-repeated campaign pledge not to cut Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare. Trump also broke that promise, by the way, by endorsing the American Health Care Act, the House Republican Obamacare repeal plan that incorporates a stunning $880 billion in Medicaid cuts.

It turns out that Mulvaney was setting up a flagrant deception during that “Face the Nation” appearance. He asked moderator John Dickerson, “Do you really think that Social Security disability insurance is part of what people think of when they think of Social Security? I don’t think so.”

Dickerson let the remark, which we described then as “a drive-by shooting” aimed at some of the nation’s neediest and most defenseless people, slide without comment.

But Mulvaney was tapping into a knowledge vacuum that appears to extend more deeply into the Washington press corps. Politico, which reports that the budget document will “avoid revamping Social Security and Medicare,” and the Associated Press, which says the budget “won’t touch Social Security or Medicare,” get snowed by the implication that a cut in disability isn’t a cut to Social Security.

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Addiction vs. dependence

Clinic graffiti (one addict's sentiment)

This is a very persuasive piece about the bias medical policy has against handling dependence with medication. It would be nice if our national policies were grounded in actual research instead of punishment:

Decades of research show that these medications dramatically reduce the risk of death, HIV infection, and recurrence of drug use. (A recent review of the scientific literature involving more than 100,000 patients found that death rates were two to three times lower for people in methadone or buprenorphine treatment, compared to people not taking medication). No other method — including abstinence-only residential rehab — has such strong support.

Yet the common myth is that people taking these medications are “still addicted” and that residential treatment is a better option. Failure to understand that addiction is not dependence leads many — including family members and people with addiction themselves — to avoid lifesaving care.

Mistaking dependence for addiction can also harm patients with chronic pain. Those who benefit from opioid therapy can be mislabeled as addicted, when, in fact, they are physically dependent. This can lead to cessation of an effective treatment — and sometimes even suicide.

If, as a society, we really believe that addiction is a disease, we can’t exempt it from the standards we use to discuss other illnesses. That means dropping inaccurate medical terms from the past. It also means that addiction physicians must do a much better job of educating the public and even other doctors — especially non-specialists like Tom Price — about how our understanding of addiction has changed and why using medication to treat it is not just continuing the problem.

The language that we use about addiction helps determine what we do about it and how we treat people who are affected. People with addiction won’t get appropriate, evidence-based care until both addiction physicians and the media explain in up-to-date and unbiased terms what that really means and why it matters.

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Twitter after the vote

READ THIS THREAD:

They had a party

To celebrate taking healthcare away from 24 million people.

Now, I don’t believe it will pass the Senate. I think the plan is, pass it in the House so that everyone gets to say they voted to repeal Obamacare, but kill it before it actually hurts people and causes a huge political backlash.

But we’ll see. In an event, what kind of inhuman assholes celebrate handing some people a death sentence?

Flashbacks

Charlie Pierce had his gall bladder out last week, and reading this made me start to relive my own experience:

From this standpoint, with my Mississippi plastics worker hanging out at the side of my bed, I watched the Republicans fall all over themselves trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act while pretending they weren’t doing that very thing. (An atypical presentation of a common condition.) For a good, long, healthy while, I was completely one of The American People, my privileged view of our democratic follies clouded for a moment by more than just the pharmaceuticals. I was looking through a haze of frustration and pain, and considerable anger, for me and for my phantom pal from the plastics plant. Human health is not a commodity, to be bargained and sold and traded as though it were any other consumer good.

I was lying in a hospital, doped to the gills, chatting in my mind with an imaginary fellow citizen, and I could figure that out. Why in bloody hell can’t they? They’re out to wreck the only piece of effective legislation that made this a little easier for me and for my pal that has emerged in the last half-century. Everything about the proposed replacement is cruelly inadequate, because that’s what it was designed to be. The pre-existing conditions protections are cheesecloth; the high-risk pools are guaranteed to bring us back to the days of generally unaffordable premiums. It’s still a tax bill dressed up as healthcare reform, which is like calling a crop subsidy a law enforcement measure.

And hand things back to the states? To Sam Brownback’s Kansas, or Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, or even my phantom companion’s Mississippi? Somehow, doing this, bringing millions of Americans back to the brink of a cliff they’d almost forgotten over eight years, makes those Americans more free? This is crazy. I turned on the hockey game.

Reading this made me hyperventilate. If my friend K. hadn’t known about the Obamacare pre-existing conditions bridge plan (that was in place before the regular policies kicked in), I have no doubt I’d be dead now.

Because when doctors keep telling you that you need surgery or you’ll die, and you tell them you don’t have insurance and all of a sudden they send you home (and they weren’t lying — one of my blogger friends died of pancreatitis), you begin to understand exactly how obscene this system is.

Your life is only as worthwhile as you can afford.

Republican admits GOP health plan is for ‘good’ people who do things the ‘right’ way

DI6T2497

As it turns out, Republicans see unhealthy people the same as they see the poor: As failures. That’s the takeaway, at least, from Jake Tapper’s CNN interview with U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks from Alabama’s 5th Congressional District. During the Monday interview, Jake asked Brooks about new legislation Republicans are considering to replace Obamacare. In particular, Tapper… Continue Reading →

They’re coming after entitlements

El financiamiento del muro debe ser parte del presupuesto: Mick Mulvaney

Which is what you’d expect when you put a raving teabagger in charge of the budget, of course:

HARWOOD: I’ve had interviews with Republicans from Paul Ryan to John Thune who have been making the case that “we are going to persuade the president that we have to do something about entitlements.” How are you going to manage that?

MULVANEY: We’re working on it right now. He went through the list and said, “No, that’s Social Security. That violates my promise. Take that off. That’s Medicare. That violates my promise. Take that off.”

HARWOOD: Is Social Security Disability on that list?

MULVANEY: I don’t think we’ve settled yet. But I continue to look forward to talking to the president about ways to fix that program. Because that is one of the fastest growing programs that we have. It’s become effectively a long-term unemployment, permanent unemployment program.

Sure, Mick. Just assume that anyone who made it through the onerous disability screening did it for shits and giggles!

HARWOOD: You are saying to all of those people like Ryan, other Republicans, the Freedom Caucus in the House, “Do not think we are ever going to go after main Medicare and main Social Security throughout Donald Trump’s presidency”?

MULVANEY: No. I think the message to the House and Senate is, “Look, you go do what you think is best.” And I voted for Medicare premium support in the past when it was part of the Ryan budget. My guess is the House will do either that or something similar to that.

HARWOOD: Because of his pledge, President Trump would veto it?

MULVANEY: That’s not a really conducive way to sort of maintain a relationship between the executive and the administrative branch. Let them pass that and let’s talk about it.

Compassionate conservatism in Kentucky

Matt Bevin & Sam Brownback

Imagine being the kind of person asshole who dreams this stuff up:

From a glance at Bevin’s proposal, it’s easy to mistake the “MyRewards” idea for an expansion of coverage. The changes are described as “benefit enhancements” in a new, detailed implementation proposal from the consulting firm Deloitte.
Bevin’s plan is in fact a benefit cut. Kentucky’s Medicaid program currently includes vision and dental. If you’re eligible for Medicaid in Kentucky, then you’re eligible for coverage of regular tooth checkups and eye exams under state law.

Bevincare would “enhance” Medicaid benefits by taking several of them away. You will lose the security of knowing your eye doctor and dentist will see you when you need them, and gain the exciting new opportunity to earn chits toward the cost of those same services.

But to accrue those chits, you must live by Bevin’s rules. MyRewards points accumulate based on the enrollee’s participation in job training, health screening, smoking cessation, volunteer, and educational programs, at the rates listed below…

[…] Bevin’s behavioral incentives effectively convert his definition of good character into a state-enforced moral code which everyone who can’t afford health insurance must follow — and whose compliance the state must monitor.
“This requires building a massive database about people’s individual behaviors, and then keeping it up. Never mind that it’s massively expensive, it also feels very invasive,” former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Andy Slavitt said in an interview. “I’m not sure the government should be tracking if I put on five pounds, or if I’m advancing in my job, or what grade I got on my GED exam.”

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