The Congressional health care plans aren’t the problem

So I’ve been dealing with a health issue that’s got me tossing and turning a bit (no worries, I’ll be fine), and it’s been interesting to have this situation run parallel with the development of the House and Senate health care proposals.

I actually started composing this post in my head while waiting in a doctor’s office. I figured it would end up being a letter begging Sen. Collins to oppose her Republican colleagues on the Senate version. Thankfully I can skip right over that thought and instead express my gratitude to both Sens. Collins and King for standing in opposition. 

King and Collins have been thoughtful and articulate in their reasoning. King used a recent appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to break down the nuts and bolts of the proposal’s impact on Maine. King talked about the cuts in Medicaid funding being a final straw for already financially constrained rural hospitals and nursing homes.

I’d heard the same thing already in reference to proposed Mainecare cuts on the state level, and I’ve been thinking the same thing as I’ve been looking around me in the waiting rooms I’ve found myself in recently.

If it weren’t for people like me accessing health care through MaineCare/Medicaid funds, our hospitals and medical practices would have a really rough go of it. Any closures or service cuts caused by decreased federal funding would affect everyone.

I’m not sure what Rep. Poliquin didn’t understand about this concept when he voted in favor of the House version. 

A closed hospital is a closed hospital for everyone in the region whether they have public or private insurance. Further, as King pointed out, hospitals are the largest employer in eight of Maine’s 16 counties.

Freely translated: Congressional Republicans have no problem compromising the physical and economic health of rural communities.

Everything congressional Republicans have to offer in regard to health care feels like a giant shell game, except none of the overturned shells have a ball under them. Average and vulnerable Americans lose every time.

Warren Buffett’s saying we should call Republicans’ idea of health care reform “tax relief for the rich,” joining any number of analysts saying this is more of a tax bill than a health care proposal.

I didn’t even understand one of the worst bait and switch moves hidden in the legislation until I caught part of a call-in show on Maine Public the other day. If you click on the provided hyperlink, the segment I am referring to starts around minute 15:30 and runs till about 18:15.

In it, two of the experts explain how the private market subsidies will work for older Americans and for people under 100 percent of poverty currently included in Medicaid under states accessing the ACA expansion of the program.

When they got to the part about the subsidies for the poor being refundable, advance-able monthly credits going directly to insurance companies regardless of recipients abilities to pay remaining premiums, deductibles and co-pays, my head exploded.

Gotta love politicians. Federal funds going to health care providers for actually providing health care and creating jobs along the way is an entitlement. A handout. Welfare.

Federal funds being directly deposited into insurance companies’ bank accounts for insurance policies that won’t get used and will therefore take minimal staff to maintain — that’s a subsidy. Hello?!!

That’s not a subsidy — that’s our Congress wanting to hand insurance companies more free taxpayer money to play with on Wall Street. As if all the tax breaks already incorporated in the proposal aren’t enough.

That kind of thinking, that kind of utter absence of integrity is enough to keep me tossing and turning long after I am on the mend. You’ve got to wonder what it takes to make the members of Congress toss and turn.

Endnote: Yet again, Governor Kasich is popping up sounding incredibly reasonable for a Republican on the national scene in this day and age. My favorite part is when he talks about these health care proposals failing to address the rising cost of health care. Once again, one must wonder: What was so wrong with this guy for Republicans in 2016?!

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.