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Better And Cheaper Health Coverage? Not Very Likely

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Better And Cheaper Health Coverage? Not Very Likely

Health Care, Obamacare

For all their claims to morality, family values, and Christianity, members of the Republican Congress show a troubling hostility to the poor. Despite their professed piety — House Speaker Paul Ryan wears his Catholicism like a neon badge — they seem ignorant of the precepts of the New Testament.

Just look at the GOP’s approach to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill that is making its way through the House would, among other things, pare back Medicaid, which provides health insurance for those in poverty. The ACA encourages the expansion of Medicaid, and, as a result, millions of poor people now have health insurance for the first time in their lives.

But Republicans are aghast at the concept of caring for those in need; they view compassion as weakness and generosity as wasteful. While the GOP has been the party of the haves for generations, its recent incarnations have added a walloping dose of contempt for the have-nots.

The sainted Ronald Reagan spread the notion that poor people had less because they were lazy and that helping them just made them worse off. The ultra-rich Mitt Romney, for his part, characterized half the country as takers who didn’t pay their fair share.

Romney’s assertion included, by the way, not only the poor, but also many of those white working-class voters who gave President Donald Trump his electoral margin of victory. Those Trump supporters are in for a bitter awakening: They will also suffer in the new order, as some will learn when they lose their newly acquired health insurance.

Of course, very few lawmakers are impolitic enough to publicly voice their contempt for the less affluent. But every now and then, one of them is caught saying what he thinks (as Romney was when he was secretly recorded).

Just the other day, U.S. Rep Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, shared his condescension in an interview with CNN: “Americans have choices, and they’ve got to make a choice. So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care.”

Well, there’s a problem with Chaffetz’s comparison. First, most poor people don’t own iPhones. But if they did, the fancy cellphone would be a lot cheaper than health insurance.

According to Health Pocket, a website that helps consumers navigate the health insurance marketplace, the cheapest insurance plan available to a 30-year-old costs about $311 a month, or $3,732 a year. (Under Obamacare, government subsidies brought that cost down substantially.) The iPhone 7 can be purchased for less than $700.

Still, Chaffetz’s disturbing response panders to the racial resentment that has long been the animating force behind widespread opposition to Obamacare. Many GOP voters believe incorrectly that people of color benefit more than whites from the ACA.

Indeed, several researchers have studied the relationship between racial bias — much of it implicit or subconscious — and opposition to Obama’s policies, especially Obamacare. One study found that white voters who said they didn’t like the ACA were supportive of exactly the same plan when it was associated with Bill Clinton.

The fact is that more white Americans have gained insurance through the ACA than black Americans. White Americans, moreover, constitute the largest single ethnic group who benefit from Medicaid. Nationwide, 41 percent of those who receive Medicaid are white, while 22 percent are black and 25 percent are Hispanic, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. (The remaining recipients are “other,” Kaiser says.)

Trump managed to persuade a lot of those white Americans that he would give them better and cheaper health insurance.

“Everybody’s got to be covered,” he told 60 Minutes in 2015. “I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”

That’s not going to happen. Trump was too smart to ridicule the have-nots while he was on the campaign trail, but his policies are still going to give them the shaft.

Cynthia Tucker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.

IMAGE: Don Ariosto / Flickr

Cynthia Tucker Haynes

Cynthia Tucker Haynes, a veteran newspaper journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, is a Visiting Professor of Journalism and Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Georgia. She is also a highly-regarded commentator on TV and radio news shows.

Haynes was editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper for 17 years, where she led the development of opinion policy. More recently, she was that newspaper’s Washington-based political columnist. She maintains a syndicated column through Universal Press Syndicate, which is published in dozens of newspapers around the country. Besides winning the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007, Haynes has also received numerous other awards, including Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists.

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  1. Thoughtopsy March 10, 2017

    Angry Racists,
    Overt Racists,
    Covert Racists,
    Subtle Racists,
    Unaware Racists….

    It all points to one thing.
    America has never faced what it did in the past, and has never been forced to confront it officially as a Country.
    Mainly talking slavery here.

    Japan after WW2… faced their own destruction, torture (in most cases), and war crimes and apologized, built museums to preserve the knowledge, and taught the entire issue in schools.

    Germany after WW2… faced what they did, raised monuments, paid reparations, and every German gets educated in the horrors of what happened under Hitler so it never happens again.

    Americans… (talking a subset here) fought to keep slavery, resisted giving it up for as long as possible, instituted Jim Crow, fought to keep that as long as possible, allowed some laws to pass to equalize some of the racism, continue to fight that tooth and nail, still disproportionately blame and jail minorities, in many areas of life ignore their white privilege and describe racism against white people as a bigger problem, edit their school textbooks to eliminate slavery or sugar coat it… and so on… and so on.

    As a country you have never stopped. Apologized for slavery. Acknowledged all the death, torture, damage and suffering it caused then, and continues to cause now, and offered concrete reparations and laws to FIX all of it
    Until this is done, half the country will continue their casual or overt racism. Because to them it feels right and it feels normal.

    The advantage of doing this officially… as an Entire Country… instead of just Liberals, and people working on racism in society and government… is it leaves the casual and hidden and unaware racists nowhere to hide.
    Once the President apologizes to African Americans for their treatment, officially details all of the incidents, and types of suffering, builds monuments, institutes laws, gives reparations of whatever seems appropriate or reasonable or is negotiated, and forces the knowledge on this onto every school curriculum so it doesn’t happen again, and all children understand the effects and issues and what the country did…. then it is recognized by all (whether they like it or not), and at least puts the country on a course towards reconciliation and being healed.

    Will any President actually DO this?
    Hell no.

    Because this will trigger every single white racist in the country, whether overt or subtle, or unaware… and they will scream about reverse racism, lies, apology tours, welfare queens, and rise up against the very idea that Proud Free America ever did ANYTHING wrong that the country would need to apologize for.

    This entirely predictable reaction, and extreme sensitivity to admitting responsibility, or, God help us, APOLOGIZING, shows exactly how badly this is needed.

    However the very idea of the President apologizing to black people for enslaving, killing, torturing, raping, murdering, and, to this day, largely continuing the institutional blindness and avoidance of dealing with the obvious racism in society would cause their tiny heads to explode. They would get violent.

    Because no-one has lanced this boil. Since the Civil War it’s been allowed to fester in multiple ways in multiple places, and polite (white) people just ignore it, and different branches of government and industry at different times, have profited off it, or made it worse… again… quietly…. And black people learn to cope with it. And to their credit, have largely not become violent or militarized.

    A Northern Irish friend said to me once that he was amazed by African Americans in America.
    Why? I asked.
    He said they are so incredibly tolerant of the continual insults and suffering they are forced to endure. He said if anyone had done that to his people, there would be (and there was) terrorism on an epic countrywide scale, bombs going off in every pub, train station and government building, and murder and death on the streets until something changed.
    If it had been Ireland, when Trayvon Martin died there would have been 40 white guys hanged on a tree somewhere as a protest.
    When Freddie Grey died, there would have been attempted bombings of every major police station in the city.

    He said they just seem, mostly to be peacefully pushing for equality against a system that is rigged. Which he thought was a bit weird given lots of them are wrongfully killed or imprisoned every day. But strangely worthy of respect.

    I’m not sure how this is going to play out… but the reservoir of racism in the USA is large, angry, festering, and mostly unaddressed. Consider the Trump victory.

    The people who MOST want to avoid addressing it, are the racists themselves.
    The degree to which you think true apology and reconciliation is impossible due to the resistance from Americans, is the degree to which America is still racist.

    1. plc97477 March 11, 2017

      I heard an historian say that it was the assassination of Lincoln that left the country dealing with the death of the president instead of cleaning up the mess that the civil war made.

      1. Thoughtopsy March 11, 2017

        Its quite possible. It would have made an excellent distraction with similar “feeling” to it.
        Sort of like a false closure. Or a feeling of sadness and closure, but about the wrong thing.

  2. Dominick Vila March 11, 2017

    The first thing to remember is that increases in healthcare costs have been taking place in the USA since long before the ACA was signed into law. Ours has been the most expensive, and exclusive, healthcare system in the world for decades, and if it is up to the GOP, it will remain that way for many years to come. The cost of medical care in the USA has not accelerated in recent years because of the ACA, a system that helps about 7% of our population. Until strict regulation is put in place to rein in the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, take steps to reduce the burden of ER costs on hospitals, and take effective steps to control the cost of RX and lab work, medical costs will continue to rise until the entire system collapses due to affordability.

    1. Independent1 March 11, 2017

      And the bloodsuckers are already chomping at the bit; Anthem is pushing Ryan to push the GOP’s terrible replacement down the throats of even GOP resistors because he sees dollars coming into his pockets. Even our health insurance companies are corrupt – it’s all about the money!!

      See this from Blabber/Buzz a conservative propaganda website;

      Biggest Insurance Company in Obamacare Exchanges Rallies Behind Ryan’s Obamacare 2.0

      Anthem, the nation’s second largest health insurance company, backed the Republican leadership’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Anthem addressed House Republicans in a letter, saying the “timeto act is now” to address the faltering individual insurance market. The health insurance giant urged Republicans to move “as quickly as possible.”


      1. Dominick Vila March 11, 2017

        Like every other social program, the ACA needed tweaking. Unfortunately, that’s not what the GOP is doing. I suspect that their decision is influenced more by political imperatives than logic.

        1. Independent1 March 12, 2017

          Yes, the GOP’s standard political imperatives – feed more money into their pockets and the pockets of the already wealthy including corporations. Remember, a good chunk of people in Congress are in the upper 10% of income earners and some in the 1-2% class. And clearly, Democrats see Trumpcare as a tax giveaway to the wealthy; as Republicans have pulled out provisions that will now benefit the wealthy as they also pulled out provisions that will now put a higher cost burden especially on most seniors (those that aren’t independently wealthy). I only wish that non wealthy seniors would now start seeing just how damaging the GOP ideology is to their well being.

          See this this from WaPo (if you haven’t already):

          Democrats: ‘Trumpcare’ is a ‘tax break for the rich’

          Democrats, who’ve struggled for a way to separate President Trump from the voters who powered his upset victory, believe they’ve found one with the American Health Care Act. As Republicans fight about the bill’s details, the opposition party is attacking its tax provisions as a giveaway to people like Trump — multimillionaires. “Trumpcare is really a tax break for the rich, not a health-care program,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) at a Thursday morning news conference outside the Capitol. “They talk like populists but act for wealthy interests.”

          Flanked by 10 people who credited the Affordable Care Act with their coverage, Schumer and other members of the Democratic caucus repeatedly criticized the AHCA for its tax provisions, which would disproportionately benefit the wealthy. It would eliminate, for example,the net investment income tax of 3.8 percent on investments, a tax designed only to affect people in the top two tax brackets, and the 0.9 percent Additional Medicare Tax, which also affects only top earners.

          “If you’re a millionaire, you’re going to get an average $50,000 tax cut,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “It’s great for the Trump Cabinet.”


          1. Dominick Vila March 12, 2017

            RyanCare, the proposed age tax attacks against SS, MEDICARE, and MEDICAID may do what the Democratic party has failed to do. It may mobilize seniors, one of the most reliable segments of our population when it comes to voting.
            I suspect that a lot of Republicans are well aware of the dangers of impacting the livelihood of seniors. That, and ideology, are the most important reasons for many “conservatives: opposing RyanCare. BTW, I consider Ryan and Pence much more dangerous than The Donald. Trump is an easily manipulated buffoon, with a tendency to react to whatever he hears in Breitbart and FOX. Ryan and Pence are hard line ideologues, determined to advance their long held agenda.

          2. Independent1 March 12, 2017

            I don’t disagree on Pence and Ryan, they’re two very corrupt politicians who really know how to put things over on a lot of America’s clueless electorate.

            My main concern with Trump is what he may end up doing for the Russian mobs given that he’s in debt big time to Russian mobsters and they’re going to be looking for payback now for both the money he owes them and the help they gave him in getting elected. And I’m not at all comfortable with what Trump may have Tillerson doing at the State Department – especially given that Tillerson has virtually shut down any communication between the State Department and the outside world since he took over 6 weeks ago. Tillerson’s outside world shutdown of the State Department is totally unprecedented in at least the last 50 plus years – no SOS in 50 years has previously gone more than 2-3 days without some interaction between journalists and the department. Why so much secrecy??

          3. Dominick Vila March 12, 2017

            I would not be surprised if the reason the media, and the public, are being kept in the dark is to avoid having to answer questions about the sweet deals that Trump Enterprises is realizing. China authorizing a dozen Trump trademarks. Trump, Tillerson, and other members of the administration stand to make billions of dollars if they remove the sanctions that President Obama imposed on Russia, and the Rosneft oil and natural gas deal becomes reality. The fact that Trump spends much of his time meeting with investors at Mar A Lago, and at the Trump hotel in Washington, has very little to do with the national economy or job creation. To say that there is conflict of interest between what he has been doing, and the quid pro quo that his business, and his children’s businesses, are getting, is an under statement. This is corruption on steroid, and Paul Ryan, and most of the Republicans in Congress are busy trying to cover it up.

          4. dpaano March 14, 2017

            And, you have to look at the fact that he’s fired everyone in the State Department other than a very few. How can you run the State Department without knowledgeable individuals? You can’t!

        2. dpaano March 14, 2017

          Yep….they’re seriously lacking in logic!

    2. dpaano March 14, 2017

      Many of these are fixes that could be done to the current ACA, but Ryan and his buddies want to get rid of it totally! It’s pretty sad!

      1. Dominick Vila March 14, 2017

        Their repeal and replace has more to do with denying President Obama his legacy as President, than logic or what is best for the American people.

        1. dpaano March 15, 2017

          From what I’ve been reading in the LA Times, it looks like it will NOT make it through the House OR the Senate as it stands now. I think most Republican politicians have come to realize that they may NOT win back their seats if they are up for re-election in 2018 if they vote for this plan as it stands! We can only hope! The current ACA plan is fine; it just needs some tweeks to make it work better, and this is what Congress should be looking at rather than trying to re-write the whole plan or repeal it! This is what the people want also, but since when have our politicians ever listened to us unless it would benefit them to do so! Remember, midterms are coming up, and this could end up really hurting any of them that vote for this!

  3. plc97477 March 11, 2017

    When the people of this country finally realize that the republicans are selfish SOBs we can fix the many problems we need to fix.

    1. dpaano March 14, 2017

      Hopefully, plc, it won’t be too late!

  4. stsintl March 11, 2017

    Once “Social Responsibility” was thrown out from the core values of Lincoln-Eisenhower GOP, the Republican Party was left with; Little or no taxes, Little or no government, Carry the guns, and survival of the fittest. These are also the core values of “Mafia”, so they infiltrated the party and took over. Rest is history. Now all branches of our government are owned and operated by “Mafia”. There are no more crime syndicates, since they all have been legalized

    1. Independent1 March 11, 2017

      Exactly! Today’s GOP politicians are no different that the Italian Mafia types: it’s the GOP’s objective to steal as many taxpayer dollars as clueless American voters will let them get away with.

  5. InGen12 March 11, 2017

    Trumpet supporters don’t realize that if they are paying, say, $500 a month in insurance premiums with a government ACA subsidy added in making their payment $250 a month that with the GOP’s plan, they will have to shell out the entire $500 a month and wait until tax time to gain a “tax credit” portion of what they have shelled out over the year, Many people cannot afford this so they will go without insurance. The same goes for the HSA portion of the bill – you will have to put $500 a month into an HSA. Everyone needs to be aware that the CBO needs to put out their analysis of this plan before it is voted on. The GOP wants to denigrate the office that has analyzed all economic policies since the 70’s. They know this bill will not stand up to a close inspection.

    1. dpaano March 14, 2017

      The CBO’s report just came out yesterday, and it doesn’t make the current Ryan plan look good in the least, but 45 and his cohorts are already lying to his followers and trying to make them believe that a totally non-partisan budget group is not being truthful!!! It’s pretty sad that people are so gullible that they continue to believe this president in the hopes that he’ll get them jobs and give them good healthcare! They are in for a VERY rude awakening!

      1. InGen12 March 14, 2017

        I don’t know why the newscasters on TV aren’t also reporting this:



        The WH analysis of this plan was even worse than the CBO’s. I guess they expect us to believe the CBO’s analysis is phony – just like for months the jobs report numbers were phony!

        1. dpaano March 15, 2017

          Of course they do…..anything that comes out that is against what they’re trying to do is purported to be “false” in their eyes, and they’ll keep saying that until their followers believe them. But, I don’t think their followers are that stupid not to realize that they would NOT benefit from this new plan!

  6. dpaano March 14, 2017

    What’s really sad is that some of 45’s followers seem to think that the ACA is totally different from Obamacare! They don’t seem to understand that it’s one and the same, and once 45 and his buddy, Ryan, throw together their plan, it’s not going to be good for many of them, if not all of them! The Rust Belt is noted for having the most people with serious health problems; i.e., diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, etc., and they will be the ones most affected when their health care is taken away from them! And, since many of them are still unemployed (because they don’t seem to realize that the jobs that they had are no longer there), it’s going to end up costing them more than any of them have if they want health coverage! It’s pretty sad that they just didn’t consider that when they voted for these idiots! They chose to believe a known liar when he said that they would have better benefits for less money! Actually, they’re going to see the exact opposite….they’re going to have fewer to no benefits for much, much more money and the wealthy will reap the benefits! Hopefully, they’ll start to come to their senses in 2018 and vote out these Republicans so that we can get rid of 45 in 2020!


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