Repealing the Affordable Care Act

Without spin or editorializing on the issue, here are some facts from The Center for Medicare Advocacy, medicareadvocacy.org, about the program Congress plans to repeal:

  • The uninsured percentage of Americans under 65 is the currently the lowest in decades. Beginning in 2014, the rate dropped from 16.6% to 10.5%.
  • As of March 31, 2016, 11.1 million people have coverage through the ACA Marketplace.
  • As of 2015, 11 million people in 31 states and the District of Columbia had coverage through Medicaid expansion under ACA, out of a total of 81 million on Medicaid.
  • There are 19 states that did not expand Medicaid: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Idaho, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
  • However, the ACA resulted in 16,748,000 people becoming eligible for Medicaid as of September 2016.

Congress says it will replace the ACA with something better. Dare we hope?

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
law-business.com

©2017 John B. Payne, Attorney

Black Lives Matter, Too

Many of my fellow Whites see “Black Lives Matter” as meaning that police lives do not matter. That is a sad symptom of the sick state of ethnic and race relations in this country. Some who support Black Lives Matter are anti-police, just as some anti-establishment activists shouted “Off the Pigs” during Viet Nam War protests. However, those hostile and vicious thugs were and are a small minority trying to subvert the humanitarian goals of the larger movement. “Black Lives Matter” should be understood to mean, “Black Lives Matter, Too.”

I am incredibly proud of my daughters, who took in pound puppies (not the Tonka toys, but real pound puppies) and loved them until they are now better citizens than many of our high government officials and corporate CEOs. One dog, in particular, spent his first four months as a stray on the streets of Las Vegas. I cannot imagine this dog’s life as a stray in a desert city. How he found enough water to drink, let alone food, is a profound mystery.

Similarly, I cannot imagine the life of a coal miner who markwayne mullinworks grueling hours deep under ground and literally sacrifices his health to support his family. I cannot imagine the life of a farm worker who endures 14-hour days, bent over under a blistering sun, for less pay than a typical American spends on car payments. I cannot imagine the life of a gay or transgendered high school student afraid to enter a bathroom. I cannot imagine the life of an unemployed young Black or Latino in South Los Angeles. And I cannot imagine the life of a pregnant teenager in a state that makes it as difficult as possible to obtain an abortion. All of these lifes matter!

It is a huge and tragic problem that many, if not most, middle-class Whites think that they understand the lives of people who are different from them. They look at an unemployed person and assume that he or she is unemployed by choice. They see a pregnant welfare mother and assume that it is her choice to have another baby or that she does not know how to avoid becoming pregnant. They think the server who delivers their $3.49 Breakfast Special at the local hash house for sub-minimum wages works there by choice.

In truth, the coal minor, the farm worker, the unemployed Black or Latino and the server are all doing the best they can, given their opportunities and skills. Black Lives Matter is not just about Black men being shot by police. It is aimed at the gaping social inequality between the haves and the have-nots. The problem is not oppression of Blacks. It is oppression and denial of opportunity for all citizens who are disadvantaged by substandard education, physical disability, abysmal poverty, and discrimination based on race, gender identity, religion, ethnicity, and disability.

Our national leaders and the media want us to believe that the Black Lives Matter movement – to the extent that it is a movement – is a gaggle of gang members, terrorists and violent anarchists. That is their excuse to dismiss Black Lives Matter as anti-democratic and un-American because they do not want to effect change. They do not want good inner-city and rural schools nor are they willing to invest in the necessary infrastructure to make public transportation a reasonable alternative to private car ownership. They do not want affordable health care for all Americans. They hope to ignore the demands for equal opportunity and fairness and vilify and suppress Black Lives Matter the way they vilify and suppress the Occupy movement.

Black Lives Matter is not anti-police, it is pro-democracy and pro-equality. Instead of attacking Black Lives Matter, like the quasi-military forces of a tyrant cracking down on peaceful demonstrators, local police personnel should support its aims. Police officers are under the thumb of the establishment as much as anyone. They are being laid off and losing health and retirement benefits, just like employees in many fields. Furthermore, municipal police may have fairly good compensation and benefits, but they are vastly outnumbered by motivated and dedicated “security guards” who are forced to accept far lower compensation and minimal benefits.brett guthrie

A generation ago, security guards in state offices were civil servants, with reasonable wages, benefits and opportunities for advancement. Since then, the government has farmed out the responsibility for security in state and federal offices to the lowest-bidding private security companies, ensuring that the men and women securing the safety in government buildings will be paid as little as possible and deprived of even basic employee benefits. The same privatization (employee privation) is happening in every other government or corporate sphere that the plutocrats and autocrats in charge can rationalize. Even highly-trained and educated professionals are being downgraded to the status of casual labor, lacking benefits and the ability to negotiate the conditions of their employment.

Black Lives Matter is not just about Black men shot by police. It is about giving equal opportunity to children and adults who are Black or Latino or Muslim or LGBT, or who have disabilities. It is about ending voter suppression and living up to the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
law-business.com

©2016 John B. Payne, Attorney

Alarming News from Washington

Federal employees in DC who are not furloughed or working for no pay are now in lockdown.  Shots have been fired at or near the capitol.  It is not known whether the presumed terrorists are allied with the right-wing insurgents mentioned in yesterday’s post.  I give 10:1 odds that they are part of the same group.

 

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
law-business.com
 
©2013 John B. Payne, Attorney
 
 

Rightist Insurgents Seize House – 300,000,000 Held Hostage

Washington, October 1, 2013 – Slogan-wielding health-care protesters invaded the Capitol over the weekend, demanding an end to health care for anyone unable to pay for it.  Taking the entire U.S. population hostage, the insurgents are demanding an end to Obamacare and promising death to tens of thousands due to lack of access to health care if their demands are met.

Speaker John Boner promised to break the country before his caucus would allow funding for health care.  “We will spend millions for defense,” he declared, “but not one penny for health care.”  According to Mr. Boner, a visit to a doctor for pneumonia or surgery for a hernia is a privilege for college-educated professionals and those worthy enough to be elected to Congress.

The Republicans are also determined to end food aid to the poor.  One GOP representative said, “It is time to end the obesity epidemic by starving the poor.”  He said that “if the poor are starved skinny enough, obesity will be ended, since the average American will be the right weight.”  He said that if leaves and grass are good enough for his polo ponies, they are good enough for people too lazy to pick fruit in his orange grove for a nickel a bushel.

Republicans in the senate also want to block Obamacare.  During Sen. Marcus Rubicube’s remarkable 13-hour mini-filibuster he laid out the Republican problem with Obamacare this way:

We cannot afford Obamacare.  It might improve the health of people who cannot now afford health insurance and save money in the long run.  Then where would we be?  The American people will be misled into thinking that Obama is right about something.  That would be a catastrophe.  It is much better to let the country crash and burn than give Obamacare a chance to work.

During the filibuster, Sen. Rubicube could be seen chugging vial after vial of 5-Hour Energy.  He denied that he was promoting the energy slime and dismissed as ridiculouse the accusation that there was any connection between his ostentatious consumption of the product and the six-figure campaign contribution he received from the company when he left the podium.

An Obama Administration spokesperson said that the President is monitoring the situation.  Closely!  She quoted the President as stating that he is “appalled” at the blatant disregard for governmental protocols.  She stated that the President considers taking the United States electorate hostage as “very serious.”

 

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
law-business.com
 
©2013 John B. Payne, Attorney
 
 

Take the Federal Money

Let us set the scene: Your doorbell rings.  You open the door and there stands Dave Sayer from Publishers Clearing House holding a 24″ by 36″ cardboard check.  What would you do?

If you are a Michigan Senate Republican, you would tell Dave to wait for a couple of hours while you think it over and close the door.  The Michigan Senate has been dithering over Medicaid expansion for more than a year.  This would extend Medicaid coverage to all adults with income less than 133% of the federal poverty level, without regard to whether they are disabled.  Under present law, adults between 21 and 65 are only eligible for Medicaid if they are disabled.  Since this expansion would be completely paid for by the federal government, the Michigan legislature is turning down an offer of billions of dollars with essentially no strings attached.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said on July 17, 2013 that it is “probable” that the Senate Medicaid workgroup will have a Medicaid expansion proposal ready by July 24 and the senate would vote on the proposal in late August.  Considering that it is 40 months since the Affordable Care Act was passed and 13 months since the Supreme Court upheld the law, and the deadline to ratify Medicaid expansion is October 1, 2013, the Michigan Senate is next to criminally dilatory.

Mr. Richardville acts as if ratifying Medicaid expansion is a compex, difficult proposition.  According to Gongwer Michigan, Mr. Richardville stated, “I asked (the group) to give me a progress report and if we were ready, then we would take a vote and have discussion. But they weren’t quite there yet, (Sen. Roger Kahn) thinks they’re between a half and two-thirds complete with something, so I didn’t think it made a whole lot of sense to talk about something that wasn’t ready for a full discussion.”  He is trying to rationalize blatant, intentional procrastination.  How hard is it to write “Yes” on a piece of paper and vote on it?  Mr. Richardville and his accomplices do not like the Affordable Care Act, so they will slash the tires, put sugar in the gas tank, and smash the windshield – any destructive act they can dream up — to keep it from moving forward.

What is the point of this?  The federal government is knocking with the money in hand.  Refusing to open the door is asinine.  Considering that this money is intended to provide health care for the poor, it is also malicious.  Medicaid expansion would cover 450,000 Michiganians whose only sin is to lack a good job or rich parents.  If one per cent of those who will not receive medical care under the expansion die for lack of care, that is 4,500 needless deaths.

All the senate Republicans have to do is open the door act accept the money.  Anything else is misgovernment.

 

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
law-business.com
 
©2013 John B. Payne, Attorney
 
 

Affordable Care Act Mandate

Affordable Care Act Mandate

I subscribe to several listservs where there are conservative and TEA Party members.  The moaning and wailing over the Affordable Care Act individual mandate can be deafening.  It might be helpful to review how the individual mandate will really work.  This flowchart from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation explains who and under what conditions a person might be subject to a penalty for not buying health insurance.

 

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
law-business.com
 
©2012 John B. Payne, Attorney
 
 

Ryan Plan to Include “Life Panels”

House Republicans passed congressman Paul Ryan’s deficit-cutting budget plan on Thursday, March 29, 2012, potentially a crucial plank in their election-year campaign platform and a foil for Democratic attacks over the plan’s savings in health care. One little-noticed cost-saving provision establishes an additional hurdle for applicants for Medical Assistance, also known as Medicaid. Under the new requirement, adults must demonstrate a reason to live in order to qualify for Medicaid. Analysts estimate that this could eliminate up to 50% of current and potential adult Medicaid recipients. Savings in federal general fund dollars could exceed $687 billion over 10 years.

Under the proposed policy, individuals must demonstrate a reason to live, by clear and convincing evidence, to be eligible for Medicaid. Acceptable reasons include: a) Objectively measurable artistic ability, b) Ability to engage in aesthetically-pleasing musical, dramatic, or dance performance, c) Significant mathematic, scientific, rhetoric, inventive, religious, or political capacity, or d) Being held in high regard or loved by a significant number of unrelated individuals.

To establish objectively measurable artistic ability, applicants must present critical reviews by three recognized art critics, unless paid by the individual or family members. The reviews do not have to be positive. In the art world negative reviews are considered to be more desirable and reliable than positive reviews.

Ability to engage in aesthetically-pleasing musical, dramatic, or dance performance may be verified by YouTube ratings or participation in juried competition. The individual need not win a competition, but must survive at least first-round elimination for the competition to qualify as clear and convincing evidence of a reason to live. Hip-hop is not considered music under the bill and waiving a sparkler on the Fourth of July is not considered a “dance,” unless the individual is able to wave a flag at the same time, without setting the flag on fire.

To support a finding of a reason to live by reason of mathematic, scientific, rhetoric, or inventive capacity, the individual must demonstrate that he or she is as smart as, but not necessarily smarter than, a fifth-grader. Religious capacity may be shown by a healing or other miracle within the previous 12 months. The individual is considered to have political capacity if supportive of the TEA Party. Liberal political inclinations are automatically disqualifying.

Being held in high regard or loved by a significant number of unrelated individuals may be shown by notarized testimonials of unrelated third parties. Testimonials of relatives are not considered, as relatives are conclusively presumed to be biased in favor of the individual. Paid caregivers, treatment providers, and employees of the institutions where the individual resides are disqualified from attesting to the individual being held in high regard or loved.

The bill would establish a “Life Panel” in each of the 57 states. These life panels would determine whether indigent adults have sufficient reason to live to be granted medical care. According to House Speaker John Boehner, the “life panels” are “totally opposite” to the “death panels” established by Obabamacare. The Speaker stated, “It’s as different as putting your pants on one leg at a time is from putting your legs in your pants one leg at a time. It’s as different as putting your hat on your head is from putting your head in your hat. They are as different as a Xerox machine and a copier.”

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi responded, “Life panels and death panels are the same thing. The Republicans are imitating us. We call on the President to make them stop imitating us. If they won’t stop imitating us, we will start imitating them. We’ll see how they like it!”

 

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
law-business.com
 
©2012 John B. Payne, Attorney