Fatal Miscalculations: Who Will End Up Paying For The Red Plague?

I freely admit that I considered the 2016 election results as a catastrophe for individual liberties, the environment, consumer rights and more. Now, I see that I totally underestimated the damage Trump and the GOP threaten to do to the vast majority of Americans. I’m talking about the 99% who struggle to get by while the 1% feast off of our miseries.

Between the latest version of the AHCA (Anti Health Care Act), that was pushed through the House of Representatives without anyone knowing how it would actually impact Americans, and Trump’s robber baron budget, which portends an unholy transfer of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the 1+%, we are facing a financial threat to our very survival. With a flair for the melodramatic at times, I have chosen to call this threat The Red Plague, since it was brought about by all the red states on the electoral map. And, make no mistake, it is a plague upon our country.

Hyperbole? Exaggeration? Paranoia? Well, I suppose it depends upon where you are in the spectrum of differences that seem to divide rather than unite America. If you’re wealthy, white, a religious conservative, bigoted and a fervent nationalist or some combination thereof, then you probably think all of what’s happening is good. You’re the ones that Trump and the GOP are counting on. They keep you happy by appealing to your fears and prejudices while stealing your money as well as our money and our rights.

On the other hand, it’s a very real threat for those of us who believe in liberty and justice for all, the welfare of others, that health care should be a right not a choice, that people should be paid a living wage, that greed is not good, businesses have a moral responsibility to their employees and their communities, that our environment needs to be protected and that those who need help should get it

Now, I do understand that a number of otherwise good people voted for Trump because he said he was going to bring back jobs to this country and put more people back to work. Well, like everything else he said, it’s a case of over promise and under deliver. As an example, take the big deal he made about getting Carrier to stay in Indiana rather than move jobs to Mexico right after the election. Well, that didn’t last long, because Carrier is going to lay off over 600 people in Indiana and move the jobs to Mexico. (Read the Chicago Tribune story here.)

Then he was going to repeal and replace Obamacare with something so much better that would cover everybody for less. What we have so far is the 2nd version of the AHCA, which the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) now says will result in 23 million people losing their health coverage and those who have low incomes, people with pre-existing conditions and older Americans will get socked with huge premium increases and less coverage. And that’s just part of the pain we’ll be enduring while the wealthy will get huge tax cuts out of it. Call me crazy, but I don’t see that as an improvement. (Read more about the CBO report here from CNN Money.)

Then we have Trump’s attempt at a budget, which is based on a combination of avarice, cruelty, alchemy and wishful thinking. Under the banner of supply side / trickle down economics, which has proven to be a failed approach, this budget gives huge tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and corporations plus spends massive amounts on defense, while cutting welfare, medical research, medicaid, children’s health insurance, food stamps, student loan programs and public education. Apparently, Trump thinks the poor shouldn’t have chosen to be poor in the first place. Wonder if he has ever heard of King Louis XVI of France and  how that kind of thinking turned out to be a real pain in the neck? (Read about Trump’s budget in this CNN.com report, and it’s miscalculations in this MSN.com story.)

So what does all this mean? Right now in this country, we have a huge problem as more and more of the money is siphoned out of the economy and into the hands of am wealthy few. That is unsustainable. Automation, irresponsible and obscene pay for CEOs without long-term performance goals, predatory financial policies, outrageous health care expenses even with Obamacare and other issues have left many Americans feeling like they have nothing left to lose. And that is how revolutions start. The heads will roll — just look at Louis XVI!

Those in power might want to ponder just how much pain the people can endure from The Red Plague, before they turn on the ones who are spreading it. A miscalculation could be fatal.

Stand up and be counted! Demand your rights! Tell your representatives in Congress that Trump’s budget and the AHCA are DEAD! We want Medicare for all and a budget that assures the wealthy pay their fair share!

Be Vocal! Be Adamant! Be Strong!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

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Like A Sci-Fi Movie, Republicans Selling Out Our Rights To Corporations

Face it, folks, we live in the scariest of times. Responding to the bidding of their rich corporate masters, Republicans in Congress along with Trump the Terrible are in the process of stripping away our rights in the interest of making corporations even more profitable and powerful. Pretty soon, you won’t be able to go to the bathroom at home without your boss’ permission (or even worse, without him or her watching).

Between Trump’s appointments from the wealthy insiders’ club and the GOP corporate lackeys in Congress, the government is trying to eliminate all citizen protections from Wall Street greed, corporate pollution, debilitating health care expenses, hazardous workplaces, unpaid overtime, corporate restrictions on what we can access on the internet, and NOW forced genetic testing by employers.

According to a story in the Washington Post, a bill introduced in the House of Representatives would allow employers to require that employees submit to genetic testing as part of a wellness program. And, if employees refuse they could be penalized! Holy invasion of privacy, Batman! (Read story here.)

“Employers could impose hefty penalties on employees who decline to participate in genetic testing as part of workplace wellness programs if a bill approved by a U.S. House committee this week becomes law.

“In general, employers don’t have that power under existing federal laws, which protect genetic privacy and nondiscrimination. But a bill passed Wednesday by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce would allow employers to get around those obstacles if the information is collected as part of a workplace wellness program.”

Conspiracy theory? It would be hard not to see this as part of a vast conspiracy to undermine our fundamental rights and transfer all power to a vast corporate oligarchy. They are setting it up so that you can’t afford to leave a company because you can’t afford to buy health insurance on your own, while at the same time they can use your genetic testing to raise the amount you pay for company coverage. Eventually it will become like the company store where miners were paid in script that could only be redeemed at the company store, where products were over-priced and miners could quickly get in over their heads and “owe their souls to the company store.

This sudden onslaught of fresh efforts to transfer our last remaining liberties to the corporate monster is very much akin to the rise of the evil galactic empire in Star Wars. As the Dark Lord of the Rich, Darth Trump, consolidates his power with the help of his henchmen, we will soon find ourselves imprisoned in the mind-controlling corporate matrix or clawing for survival as ciphers in the barren wastelands.

So, how do we fight back? First, we contact our representatives and tell them to block this bill in any way possible, even if we have to make it a scorched earth policy. We should also look carefully for the corporations that donate to the GOP and start boycotting their products until they stop. And in the event that this bill passes, we should organize protests and boycotts against any companies that try to institute such testing.

There are some lines we can’t allow to be crossed!

Let the R.A.I.N. make the revolution grow!

The Divine Miss Bri

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A Case of Malpractice: Republican American Health Care Act Will Cause Needless Pain And Suffering

After the Republicans announced their proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act, it took me awhile to calm down, from a state of absolute burning rage at the arrogance of the GOP approach to a cold, controlled fury at their indifference toward the majority of Americans. And I am not alone in my opinion.

Not Good For Young or Old: AARP Opposes Republican Plan

Yesterday, according to an article on CNN.com, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) came out against the Republican American Health Care Act in a letter that said, “This bill would weaken Medicare’s fiscal sustainability, dramatically increase health care costs for Americans aged 50-64 and put at risk the health care of millions of children and adults with disabilities, and poor seniors who depend on the Medicaid program for long-term services and supports and other benefits.” (Read the full article here.)

The AARP stressed that the tax breaks for higher income workers would lead to the insolvency of Medicare, and that “the changes in age rating as well as reductions to subsidies would ‘dramatically increase health care costs for 50-64 year olds’ who purchase insurance through government exchanges.” (Read the full article here.)

AMA Diagnosis: American Health Care Act Will Make Things Worse For Millions

Today, The Hill.com reports that the American Medical Association (AMA) has joined with the American Hospital Association in opposing the Republican American Health Care Act. Dr. Andrew Gurman, president of the AMA, was quoted as saying,  “As drafted, the AHCA would result in millions of Americans losing coverage and benefits. (Read full story here.)

“By replacing income-based premium subsidies with age-based tax credits, the AHCA will also make coverage more expensive — if not out of reach — for poor and sick Americans. For these reasons, the AMA cannot support the AHCA as it is currently written.” (Read full story here.)

In addition, the AMA is opposed to defunding Planned Parenthood.

CDC Cuts: A Danger Of Epidemic Proportions

One of the potentially disastrous provisions of the proposed Republican American Health Care Act that has not gotten nearly enough attention is the elimination of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which is used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) according to a report on MSN.com.

Set up under the original Affordable Care Act, the fund’s goal was to “lower health costs by preventing diseases before they happen. The CDC uses it to help states deliver vaccines, watch for infectious diseases, keep an eye out for lead in water, promote breastfeeding in hospitals, prevent suicide and watch out for hospital-associated infections. It totals $931 million for 2017.”  (Read full story here.)

This is in addition to further budget cuts expected in Trump’s 2018 budget proposal and that worries health officials at all levels because the results could be fatal. That’s because the funds are used to help prevent major killers like cancer and diabetes as well as prepare for bioterrorism and deadly infectious diseases like Ebola. Without them, we really could be facing multiple crises of epidemic proportions. (Read full story here.)

Blood Pressure Alert: Tax Breaks That Will Make You Sick

True to their irresponsible passion for giving tax cuts to the wealthy, Republicans have put health coverage for almost everyone at risk in order to give tax cuts to those who don’t need them. In addition to eliminating taxes on higher income Americans that helped pay for the Affordable Care Act and stressing Heath Savings Accounts (which you have to have enough money to pay into in the first place), The Republican plan will give a $400 million tax break for insurance executives.

According to a report on MSN.com, “The proposed tax break, buried in cryptic language in the Republican plan, would allow health insurers to more fully deduct the value of their executives’ compensation on their taxes. That compensation can be as high as tens of millions of dollars, in the case of CEOs of insurers. (Read full story here.)

“Those deductions currently are sharply limited by the Affordable Care Act, which caps at a maximum of $500,000 the amount of an individual executive’s compensation that an insurer could deduct as a business expense. The cap applies to any executive, not just to CEOs.” (Read full story here.)

By the expanding this cap, Republicans again look after the wealthy and leave the rest of us to suffer.

A Radical Treatment: Time To Rethink The Entire Approach

One of the big issues that needs to be addressed before we can seriously and effectively deal with health care in America is how do we approach it — is it a right or a choice? In all honesty, I find it very difficult to look at as a choice, as if we should just choose between seeing a doctor or buying food, having needed surgery or paying rent, or paying for health insurance or paying for electricity. That would be absurd.

In a country as rich as America, we need to stop thinking about health care as a nicety and treat it as a right we all deserve! We need to forget treating it as a free enterprise competition, because it’s not something we can defer if the price isn’t right or we don’t time to shop around for the lowest ER costs when a loved has had a heart attack or been injured in a car wreck.

There’s also the issue of people who choose not to buy insurance or can’t afford. If and when they get sick, there’s a good chance they’ll get treated in clinic or hospital, but can’t afford to pay the bill. Guess who pays, then? We all do through higher insurance costs, higher hospital fees, higher taxes, etc. So, everyone needs to covered, like it or not!

Plus, what happens when somebody gets infected with a potentially deadly and contagious disease. If they avoid treatment because they can’t afford it, the disease could spread a lot faster and further with catastrophic results!!!  Everyone needs immediate access to health care regardless of income, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity (unless you want another AIDS epidemic)!

Now, while I’m at it, I will be the first to admit that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is far from perfect. It’s still expensive and the cutoffs for Advanced Premium Tax Credits need to be higher because of the high cost of insurance. (Republicans didn’t help by eliminating payments to insurers that were supposed to hold down premiums.) Co-pays and deductibles are also excessively high. (I have ACA coverage so I know this for a fact.)

WE NEED UNIVERSAL, SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH CARE!!!!!!

There really is no alternative if we want to do right by everyone. And, seriously, I’m not alone. More and more people just like you and me are shifting their views  in favor of Universal Health Care. According to Pew Research (pew research.org), “60% of Americans say the government should be responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans, compared with 38% who say this should not be the government’s responsibility. The share saying it is the government’s responsibility has increased from 51% last year and now stands at its highest point in nearly a decade.” (Read for report here.

That constitutes a majority in my book! And it covers a diverse spectrum of ages, incomes, political affiliations, etc. And, in an open letter to Congressional leaders, the AMA said, “The AMA has long advocated for health insurance coverage for all Americans, as well as pluralism, freedom of choice, freedom of practice, and universal access for patients.” (Read full letter here.)

Naturally, there are a lot of details to be worked out, but it can be done. You can’t tell me that a country that leads the world in so many accomplishments can’t figure out how to set up a workable single-payer Universal Health Care system that works for everyone!

Call and write your representatives at every level to demand that they push for single-payer Universal Health Care! It’s not about politics or wealth or business! It’s about people … all people!

Let’s do this today!

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the divisions and help us grow healthier together!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

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