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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Now it’s the House Republicans who are correctly being accused of creating so-called death panels.

Sarah Palin went on a famous tirade in 2009 after she and John McCain lost the presidential election, saying the bill that would become known as Obamacare would lead to medical rationing and life-and-death decisions by faceless bureaucrats about who got coverage and who would not.

Seniors and the disabled “will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care,” Palin said, lying at that time in a manner that anticipated the rise of Donald Trump.

As of early Wednesday, House Republicans appeared to be blinking when it comes to amassing enough votes to pass their latest Obamacare repeal bill because what they are hearing loud and clear is turning crazy Sarah’s macabre vision into reality. Americans struggling with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses are expressing their concrete fears that the House’s latest handiwork will accelerate their demise, because it repeals Obamacare’s ban on insurers rejecting coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and allows insurers to segregate these people into pricier high-risk pools. Both are disasters.

“I don’t think people really understand how serious this is,” Cannon Slayton, 50, a children’s book author with brain cancer from Charlottesville, Virginia, told the New York Times in a front-page story Wednesday. Her bottom line, like others in the report, was that she could lose her coverage under the latest Republican revisions to the Affordable Care Act and that could be fateful. And Slayton’s predicament is by no means unique.

Moreover, the GOP proposal for creating high-risk pools is a fantasy, others told the Times, recalling how before Obamacare if you were over age 50 and had any medical issues—which includes almost everyone—no insurer would sell you a policy.

As the Times noted, “Janice Elks, 50, a small-business owner in Omaha, had cervical cancer and suffered from neuropathy when she looked for a policy. ‘I could not get insurance at all, of any type, for years,’ she said. ‘I would apply over and over.’”

House Republican leaders are scrambling to paper over their repeal of Obamacare’s pre-existing condition provision. The latest analyses, from those who ran Medicaid and Medicare under President Obama, is that every congressional district will see tens of thousands of people losing coverage, with those remaining facing premium hikes of 15 to 20 percent and deductible increases of 60 percent.

After longtime Michigan Republican Congressman Fred Upton declared his opposition to the latest bill, House Speaker Paul Ryan offered to put $8 billion in subsidies back into the program for the most vulnerable (this is breaking news on Wednesday morning), as an attempt to sway his vote. As of midday Wednesday, there are reports the House GOP may soon schedule a floor vote. (Later on Wednesday, House Republicans said they had the votes and scheduled a vote for Thursday. It’s unclear if it will pass.)

Whether Ryan’s last-minute gambit works is irrelevant in the larger scheme of things, as more astute Republicans—namely, their political consultants—were tweeting on Wednesday. They know that pulling the pre-existing condition prohibition out of the law is not just a political death wish, but amounts to life-threatening changes for older Americans. In other words, Palin’s death panels are all too real; they’re in Ryan’s latest repeal bill; and enough voters know it.

Don’t take my word for it: listen to a Republican pollster who did focus groups to create ads trashing Obamacare. Here’s Rick Wilson’s tweetstorm:

“A quick story about why Obamacare is so hard to kill now. Hop in the wayback machine with me for a moment to a series 2009 focus groups. I’ve told you about this before but it bears repeating. We were prepping anti-Obamacare ads. In EVERY group and I mean EVERY group… Democrats, indys, hard Rs, soft Rs, rich, poor, black, white, urban, suburban…there was one argument that nuked everything else… And that was coverage for pre-existing conditions. It didn’t matter where you were coming from on the battle…it was the killer app…

“I wasn’t weighing policy, but rather the politics of it. And that’s why it was a tentpole of the sales job to the American public… Now salve Trump’s ego over losing Trumpcare the first time, the House GOP is trying to pass a bill that let’s states end that coverage… Set aside policy. Set aside the economics. Think about the politics of it. They’re awful. They’re idiotic. It’s a vote that makes House… Members vote for a bill that the Senate will NEVER pass. A Senate source tells me they now have MAYBE 25 Rs (and shrinking).

“Trumpcare 2.0 is still too gutless for the Freedom Caucus and too heartless for the rest of the House. Bravo, boys. Bravo… Finding a way to reduce premiums deductibles instead of doing the ONE thing that voters f**king hate might be smart, but what do I know?”

There you have it, the view from players inside the GOP tent. The only way this passes the House is to salve Trump’s ego and save Ryan’s prestige. If that happens, it will send a wave of fear through millions of American households, where an estimated 100 million people are struggling with cancer, heart disease and other chronic maladies according to 10 nationwide patient care organizations that Monday issued a joint statement opposing the House bill.

As was the case in 2009, it was a Republican—Palin—who projected the fantasy of insurance industry panels taking away life-saving care from ordinary Americans. Almost a decade later, House Republicans are poised to enact that macabre reality.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s democracy and voting rights. He is the author of several books on elections and the co-author of Who Controls Our Schools: How Billionaire-Sponsored Privatization Is Destroying Democracy and the Charter School Industry (AlterNet eBook, 2016).

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

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11 responses to “The New GOP Plan To Repeal Obamacare Would Actually Create Real ‘Death Panels’”

  1. dbtheonly says:

    As of last night Upton was on board with the bribe; but no vote yet.

    Has anyone else noticed that the Upton Bribe only provides extra funding for five years? Just in time to dump the problem on Trump’s successor.

    Time to get out there & show the fallacies of the latest version of TrumpCare.

    • Independent1 says:

      And here’s an interesting graph from Consumer Reports which shows that aside from the medical benefits ACA provides, the ACA law has been a major factor in cutting personal bankruptcies virtually in half since it was enacted in 2010.

      Not only is the GOP working to set up millions of Americans to die younger than they should have, they’re working to throw hundreds of thousands more Americans a year into the poor house.

      See this from CR:

      • Dominick Vila says:

        I don’t think Republicans are too concerned about the fate of those who are going to end up with no health coverage. Remember, as far as they are concerned, the government should not provide social services to the populace. Its charter, according to the GOP, is to fund the DoD and transfer wealth to corporate America and the elite. A few days ago I expressed doubts about the courage of the so called moderate Republicans, and said they re too scared of Trump and their rabid constituents to stand up for what they know is right. This stunt proves that when it comes to governing and legislation, the GOP is more interested in satisfying their followers, and sticking it to the black man who dared sit in the Oval Office, than doing anything that would help improve our healthcare system or anything else. What we are going to see is an under funded high risk pool, higher premiums, and millions of Americans without healthcare coverage. It remains to be seen how this turn of events is going to play out in 2018. Based on what I see in my neck of the woods, most Republican relatives, friends, and neighbors love it!

        • Independent1 says:

          It sounds like many of the people in your area are not the nicest of Americans. Are they so wealthy that they needn’t worry about the GOP trashing Social Security and Medicare? Are the majority of them so independently wealthy neither of those is a concern for them? Or do they maybe have a rude awakening coming?

          It’s a little wonder that the folks who voted for Trump, the majority of which are those who are in denial about global warming, haven’t had a little awakening with the extent of the overly severe weather that America has been plagued with this spring which has trashed numerous homes, destroyed even more homes via flooding and even destroyed some with all the wildfires. In case these friends of yours haven’t noticed,that over 75% of all that weather-related destruction has taken place in states that voted for Donald Trump and are in denial about global warming.

          • Dominick Vila says:

            Some are well off, most are middle class. Bear in mind that the repeal of the ACA, and all the EOs undoing everything President Obama did, has absolutely nothing to do with making America great again, or doing what is in our best interest. What drives Trump, his associates, and supporters is racism.

          • dbtheonly says:

            It’s been years, but I was told that the three greatest causes of Bankruptcy were Medical Bills, Job Loss, and Divorce. Who won’t spend or over spend to save the life of a loved one?

            I disagree that racism is driving the Republicans. They oppose everything Democrats stand for, regardless of race, creed, or national origin. The (D) behind the name is enough.

            I suspect there’s a large amount of, “It can’t happen here” in Republican attitudes. You know the definition of an environmentalist? A Republican whose ground water’s been polluted.

  2. FireBaron says:

    I was told that the arthritis in my knee developed from a service-related injury was a preexisting condition!

    • Independent1 says:

      Years back, health and even life insurers, refused to provide insurance for my wife because she had a thyroid condition; something that a large number of Americans develop during their lives (including myself); my wife just developed it earlier than most.

    • Welcome to the GOP’s version of Healthcare. It’ll be interesting to see if people in the House members’ Districts will be OK with the way the vote went.

  3. TZToronto says:

    Well, to be fair, Palin lied about individual cases being denied coverage by death panels because the patient was too old to deserve expensive, life-saving treatment. The current House version of TrumpDon’tCare would eliminate that death panel entirely by making it very costly for older people to get insurance at all. So it won’t be the ACHA that denies coverage to older Americans, it will be the older Americans who are denying health care to themselves because they can’t pay for it. After all, if they can’t afford the outrageous premiums, well, that’s their own fault. No death panel, just inability to pay. Shoulda saved more money, I guess. Too bad, so sad.

  4. “Death Panels”? This Palin/Right Wing conspiracy was based on lies and a failure to be able to think clearly and rationally.
    Now that the House and Trump have decided to implement a “better way” to increase the likelihood of death from lack of adequate coverage just to save some bucks, most Trump supporters are now in for a tragic and rude awakening when they have to go to the hospital. Oh, they can go into short-term debt until the meager Tax credits arrive via Tax season, but by then many patients will have expired from new stress-induced illnesses, compounding already existent conditions.

    “FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY” is now a cloaked specter with two scythes, labeled “Extra Pay for Big Pharma and the Share-Holders” for slicing away pesky affordable coverage options, and the other labeled “Higher Medical Bills”; and an extra 3rd blade, “No Coverage At All For Older Patients”.

    Unless the Senate has the good sense not to let this farce become law, which the House doesn’t, then I feel sorry for those who’ll be most affected who time after time elect politicians to Congress whose sole purpose is to make money for themselves.

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