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Trump Aims To ’Terminate’ Obamacare In Midst Of Pandemic

Donald Trump on Wednesday said he still supports a Republican-led lawsuit before the Supreme Court that seeks to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 1.2 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, and nearly 72,000 have died from it, according to a tally from the Washington Post.

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Why I Support ‘Medicare For All’ — And You Should, Too

What do we want our health care system to do? Care for our health! Yours, mine, our families’, our country’s. But don’t look for such straightforward logic or ethics in the labyrinthian industrial complex that now controls the “care” we get — or are denied. The structure itself must be changed if care and the Common Good are ever to be prized over profit.

The proof of that is made clear by the Affordable Care Act, the admirable attempt passed almost a decade ago to mitigate the effects of unrestrained corporate greed. Dubbed Obamacare, the ACA dramatically decreased the number of uninsured Americans. And yet — because its Democratic authors caved to corporate demands that the profiteering structure be kept intact — Obamacare cannot deliver the universal coverage and range that other (often less wealthy) countries provide.

Don’t despair, for a warm glow of hope beckons from the very midst of today’s cold, often nightmarish system. Millions of Americans are doing much, much better through an alternative structure that already delivers superior care for much less: Medicare.

This government program pays the health care bills of 44 million Americans — those over 65 and 9 million younger people with disabilities. For more than half a century, Medicare has comforted and benefited so many patients and families that it’s now treasured and integral to our people’s sense of the Common Good. Yes, the program needs more controls to prevent hospitals, drugmakers and others from overcharging taxpayers and doing unnecessary treatments, but such fixes are included in various bills to extend the successful program to all Americans: “Medicare for All.”

As shown by other countries, a universal single-payer system eliminates insurance middlemen, dramatically cuts administrative waste, reins in price gouging and focuses care on the less-costly approach of improving long-term health. Thus, while Medicare for All would cover every American — from birth to death — it would actually reduce what we pay for the inefficient, insufficient, incomplete coverage provided by today’s industrial health complex. Check the numbers:

U.S. health expenditures jumped 16.5 percent between 2009 and 2016 for corporate-insured patients, while the cost dropped 2 percent for Medicare patients — despite their having more complicated, chronic and expensive problems. The for-profit system eats up 12 percent of its of budget just on billing and paper shuffling, compared to Medicare’s 2 percent. Even a 2019 Koch-funded analysis concluded that Medicare for All would cut U.S. health spending by $2 trillion over 10 years. Less ideologically biased studies estimate even higher savings from Medicare for All’s administrative efficiencies.

Taxpayers already foot the bill for nearly two-thirds of America’s health care spending — including Medicare, Medicaid and the subsidies that corporations get for their health plans, plus coverage for congressmembers, veterans and a few other groups. Medicare for All’s big savings (as shown above) mean overall expenditures would drop while the quality and quantity of coverage would rise. And any additional funding needed for full universal coverage could come from progressive tax mechanisms (e.g., a transaction tax on Wall Street speculation) that don’t cost middle-income families a penny.

America’s Medicare patients are regularly able to get more timely appointments than privately insured people. In fact, delays in the corporate system are growing worse, as so much of doctor and staff time is consumed by insurance company red tape (plus, private insurers are increasingly limiting policyholders’ choice of doctors). Also, among advanced countries, our corporate-run system produces by far the highest percentage of people who skip treatment because they can’t afford it — making some wait times … eternal.

Every major Medicare for All bill in Congress includes several transitional years, with substantial funding for training, placement and other assistance for those whose jobs will not be part of the restructured system. Besides, some new administrative and fraud protection jobs will be created in the single-payer program, and universal provision of dental, mental health and other health services will create new jobs as well.

Health care giants already spend more than half a billion bucks a year on lobbying — the most of any industry — and that spending is mushrooming as they rush to maintain, by hook or crook, the status quo ethic of profits over care. But a growing majority of Americans see that we’re being robbed of our money, health and rights, and they’re demanding that politicians reject the entrenched interests and produce real change. (At least 48 of our newly elected congressmembers ran on pledges to support Medicare for All or similar health justice programs.) The power of the establishment’s money and lies wilts in the face of the moral imperative that is at the heart of Medicare for All: Everyone deserves, as a human right, affordable access to quality health care.

More Americans Losing Health Coverage Under Trump

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

With President Donald Trump in the White House, so many scandals and outrages pour forth every day that the news media has difficulty keeping up, let alone focusing on what is most important.

And though many perceive that media as being broadly critical of Trump — and there’s certainly some truth in this, though most criticism is more than warranted — this dynamic actually lets the president get by with a lot that his predecessors would have gotten slammed for.
Consider, for instance, the number of uninsured Americans.

When the Affordable Care Act — AKA Obamacare — was enacted, the uninsured rate in the United States plunged from a peak of 18 percent to 10.9 percent, according to Gallup, representing an increase in the insured population of more than 20 million people, a massive jump. This was a historic achievement, but still, Obama got dogged criticism, much of it fair, for Obamacare’s oversights and failures.

Since 2016, however, the trajectory of health insurance in the United States has completely reversed, Gallup has found. From the low of 10.9 percent in its last year, the uninsured rate ticked up to 13.7 percent, a four-year high. That’s an increase of about 7 million people without coverage. Instead of building on Obama’s progress, Trump has gone backward.

What’s driving this isn’t entirely clear, but reporter Sarah Kliff argued in January that it can be accounted for by rising premiums, the Trump administration’s various efforts to sabotage Obamacare, and the mistaken belief that Republicans have actually repealed the ACA.

But whatever the reason, one thing is clear: Trump has failed on his promise to the American people. For the most part, though, the media just ignores this fact.

Gallup’s numbers were first reported on pretty widely when they were released back in January. But even then, the topic wasn’t a dominant story. It didn’t attract the national news media’s interest the way Obamacare stories did under the previous president.

One might argue that this is only fair, because Obamacare was Obama’s accomplishment, not Trump’s. It’s only reasonable to give greater scrutiny to the uninsured rate when the single largest accomplishment of the sitting president is a health care law.

But though it’s easy to forget, Republicans were all about health care for a long time, too. Since 2010, when Obamacare passed, the GOP has promised to repeal it. It was a central theme of every election. In 2016, Trump himself said not only that he would repeal and replace Obamacare but that he would replace it with something much better. “We’re going to have insurance for everybody,” he said.

“I am going to take care of everybody,” he told CBS’s “60 Minutes.” “Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”

It wasn’t just Trump. Paul Ryan pledged in discussing repeal and replace: “We want every American to have access to quality, affordable health coverage.”

Now, when the subject is discussed, what’s typically mentioned is the fact that Trump failed to repeal and replace Obamacare. Or the fact that, despite their promises to keep its protections in place, the Republican Party and the Trump administration have lined up behind a legal challenge that could prompt the Supreme Court to eradicate Obamacare root and branch. Or the administration’s efforts to promote junk health insurance plans.

All of this is important. And yet in all these arguments, it seems the thread has been lost. Despite his explicit promises the contrary, health care has already become more difficult to get under President Trump, and millions more people are going without insurance. This is either directly because of actions his administration has taken or because of his failures to live up to his promises. There are many other scandals going on every day in the news cycle, so it’s understandable that this fact could get lost.

But the failure of this fact to land on the national radar also comes from a more pernicious fact: reporters never took the GOP’s or Trump’s claims to want to improve health care in the United States seriously. Even when they reported Republicans’ claims credulously, almost anyone in a position to professionally cover politics knew enough to be confident that the party really didn’t care about or intend on increasing the number of people who have insurance.

So when Trump actually led to an increase in the uninsured rate, this didn’t seem like much of a surprise or revelatory story. Contrast this to reporter’s attitudes under Obama, who’s every health care failure was regarded (rightly!) as a serious story. In this way, the GOP’s duplicity is rewarded, while Democratic sincerity is punished.

But health care is still a top-tier issue that voters care about it. The media would better serve the public by making Trump’s galling failure clear.

Danziger: Bones Of Contention

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.