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Charlie Pierce explains it all to Paul Ryan

Now he is out there pimping the dungheap that is the new healthcare reform bill as though Mitch and Murray from downtown were lighting his pants on fire. He even lost the suit coat and broke out the PowerPoint on Thursday. It was like watching something on cable access late at night, or a flop-sweaty rookie substitute teacher, and it was hilarious—except for the parts where people will lose their health insurance and die, of course. And this is what he said and, peace be unto Dave Barry, I am not making it up, either:

Paul Ryan said that insurance cannot work if healthy people have to pay more to subsidize the sick.

This is literally how all insurance works. If someone’s house burns down, some of your fire insurance money goes to help that person rebuild. If someone gets sick, some of your premium, healthy person, goes toward that person’s coverage. Increasingly, I have come to believe that Paul Ryan is a not particularly bright creature from another world. Let us see if we can explain this to the lad.

Let’s say that, in 1986, a 16-year-old lad loses his father to a sudden heart attack. Despite the fact that the family’s construction firm is relatively prosperous due to its generous share of government contracts, the family’s finances are considerably straitened. For the next two years, the young man and his mother receive Social Security survivor’s benefits. Of course, these came from millions of people who had Social Security withheld from their paychecks and whose fathers did not die young due to a sudden heart attack. One of them was, say, a 32-year-old sportswriter for the Boston Herald, who had Social Security withheld from what he was paid to watch the Red Sox blow the ’86 World Series, and whose father was still alive, but slipping fast into Alzheimer’s. Some of his money went to make sure Paul Ryan could complete high school and go on the college and get the BA in economics that made him the smartest man in the world.

Got it now?

Also, you’re welcome, rube.

Planned Parenthood defunded under Republicans’ American Healthcare Act

Opening Day

House Republicans unveiled the replace part of their effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, lifting penalties against those who don’t buy health insurance, replacing subsidies with tax credits and defunding Planned Parenthood. The American Healthcare Act keeps two of the most popular features of Obamacare: allowing young adults to remain on their parents’… Continue Reading →

Chaffetz: You can have health care or an iPhone, but you can’t have both!

Jason_Chaffetz,_official_portrait,_111th_Congress

Because sacrifices have to be made somewhere. Just not by the rich. Ever. Source: The Week When it comes to healthcare, Republicans want the American people to have choices. That privilege comes with a dose of responsibility, though, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said Tuesday on CNN’s New Day. Responding to host Alisyn Camerota’s challenge that “access… Continue Reading →

Devastating CBO report on ACA repeal leaves GOP scrambling

Protestors rally against ACA repeal in downtown Klamath Falls, Oregon

The CBO just released the numbers on the impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act without any replacement, and they’re ugly. According to the report, 18 million will lose their insurance in the first year, with up to 32 million losing insurance in the years following. Worse yet, the CBO expects premiums to double under the… Continue Reading →

What they plan to do to Medicare

Tom Price (R-Ga.) and chairman of the House Budget Committee speaks at the Brookings Institution

They’re putting a doctor in charge of how much doctors should get paid for seeing Medicare patients? What could go wrong?

You know the drill: Read up on what they want to do, and call ALL your representatives to say you’re opposed.

I worry about this unfortunate tendency our voters have to simply write this off: “My congressman is a wingnut, what’s the point?” The point is, if he or she gets enough call against, they report it back to the Republican caucus. It matters.

Please, now more than ever, politics is not a spectator sport. You can’t sit transfixed and watch like it’s a disaster movie. Get up off your butt, call or write letters.

Balance billing

This really is the kind of thing you should be calling your reps about:

Tom Price wants to “reform” Medicare by allowing “balance billing” of Medicare-eligible patients by doctors without requiring them to exit the Medicare program entirely, the practical effect of which, as Ryan Cooper, writing for The Week explains, would “[allow] doctors and hospitals to devour the nest eggs of thousands of American seniors:”

Permanently obliterating the financial security of helpless families with no or bad insurance as a loved one dies slowly and painfully of a chronic illness is a nice little profit center for providers. But it pales in comparison to the gravy train they might get if they can bring balance billing to Medicare.

Physicians For a National Health Care Program describes the practical implications of the Price proposal:

Even though we often hear threats that physicians will stop seeing Medicare patients, most really can’t afford to give up their Medicare revenues, and, besides, too many Medicare beneficiaries do not have adequate resources to pay large medical bills in full. The current law provides leverage to ensure that physicians will be there when Medicare patients need them.

The [Price] legislation would no longer require physicians to exit the Medicare program entirely should they enter agreements to independently bill the patients for the balance of their fees. Also Medicare would still have to pay the allowed charges. As a further insult, the physician can require the patient to do their own Medicare billing. The physician gets the full fee, in cash, including the disallowed charges, and the patient has to do the paperwork.

PNHP also notes there would be no limit on prices medical providers choose to “negotiate” with otherwise Medicare-eligible patients under the Price plan.

Cooper observes that 55 million Seniors, many with significant retirement savings, provide a perfect target for medical providers to exploit.  In 2011, Tom Price, Trump’s now-designated overseer of Medicare introduced a “Medicare reform” package designed to do just that.  It received the AMA’s imprimatur of approval, since it allowed physicians to require their patients to pay the full balance of their unrestricted fees, even if far in excess of Medicare allowable charges, thus benefitting the physicians and providers that organization represents.

In 2011 we had a President Obama to assure such a plan to bankrupt Seniors through onerous medical bills would go nowhere. And many physicians, even some within the ranks of the AMA, are vehemently opposed to it.

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