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

Medicare is Fiscally Healthy

Once again, Medicare is under attack.  The gaggle of anti-government ideologues who want to privatize Social Security, raise the retirement age and pack heat in church have backed off on repeal of Medicare, but are still determined to curtail it.  They want to “reform” Medicare by shifting more costs onto program members.  Retirees and the disabled need increased health-care costs the way Pres. Obama needs more critics.

The recurrent refrain of the Medicare doomflacks is that Medicare will go bankrupt in a few years due to the increase in members as Baby Boomers retire.  In reality, Medicare cannot go bankrupt because the Medicare Trust Fund is continually replenished by the Medicare employment tax.  Furthermore, the Medicare Trust Fund, which is a part of the Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Trust Fund, ebbs and flows in response to the U.S. economy.

Those who are covered by Medicare know what a wonderful program it is.  But for Medicare, most retirees in the United States would be forced to choose between medical care and food.  Having paid taxes for their entire working lives, retirees deserve the opportunity to see a doctor when necessary and to have hospitalization coverage.

Now that 28 states have adopted health care under the Affordable Care Act for their citizens, it would be a cruel joke on our senior population to jack up the cost of Medicare.  Drop a dime on your U.S. senator and representative.  Let her or him know that you do not support cutbacks in Medicare.

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

©2015 John B. Payne, Attorney

Trust the Government to Do It Right

Why do TEA Partiers and other neo-Cons point to government programs like Medicare, the Postal Service, and Amtrak to “prove” that anything the government tries to do is doomed to failure? In the first place, Medicare is an astonishing success. Just ask any of your relatives who are over 65, and they will tell you how great Medicare is. Government programs work the way they are supposed to 98.36% of the time, according to the U.S. Department of Hypothetical Statistics, and they are much less likely to cheat us than private businesses. Any government role in providing health care is more likely to improve quality and availability than to cause deterioration.

Amtrak loses money now, but this nation was built on economical rail transportation. If we got smart, we would stop relying on cars and trucks so much and go back to rail transportation. The Postal Service may not make money, but to whom do you turn when you have to send a letter to Aunt Alice in Ass-End-of-Elsewhere, Alaska?

Whether Amtrak and the Postal Service make money is not the only measure of their success. Police and fire departments don’t turn a profit, either; should we do away with them? If we served up public services the way we do health care, only a dues-paying member of municipal services could get the fire department to come and put out their fire or the police department to investigate the arson. Get real!

I do not want my neighbor to lack health insurance any more than I want him or her to lack fire protection. In the absence of fire protection, if my neighbor’s house catches fire and burns to the ground, that hurts my property values. Furthermore, if the fire department won’t come put out his fire, it will spread to my house.

If my neighbor lacks health insurance, he or she has to rely on the emergency room for the unpaid emergency services that I pay for. Furthermore, if my neighbor doesn’t get treated for communicable diseases, they will be passed on to me.

Mandatory health care coverage is the only fair answer. If some of that coverage is under a government-run plan, I’d sign up in a minute. Wait, I already have a government plan. I have Medicare, and I’m damned glad I do!

 

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
law-business.com
 
©2011 John B. Payne, Attorney
 
 

Republican Hypocrisy over Shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

The shooting of Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is a sad, but predictable, result of the type of vitriolic campaigning used by TEA Partiers and other right-wingnuts. When leaders accuse their opponents of being traitors and of desecrating the constitution, zealot supporters will interpret that as a green light for violence. There is only one way to interpret Sarah Palin’s use of rifle-scope crosshairs to indicate targeted Democrats on her campaign map: “Take ‘em out, Boys!” The Republican leadership set the stage for violence and has no legitimate claim to be anything but satisfied by the result.

Sarah Palin, John Boehner, John McCain, and other Republican leaders expressed “horror” over the shootings. I do not for a minute believe that they were anything but gleeful. They should keep their damned mouths shut.

I remember President Reagan claiming that he was “appalled” at the Sabra and Shatila massacres in 1982. His expression was as hypocritical as Palin’s, Boehner’s and McCain’s. Those massacres were carried out by Reagan’s ally, Ariel Sharon. Neither Reagan nor his administration lifted a finger to halt the massacres, punish the perpetrators, or assist the survivors.

There is no excuse for this kind of blatant duplicity. Right-wingers accuse anyone to the left of Sean Hannity of being a traitor and a Commie who is a danger to America. They claim that President Obama is a closet Muslim who was not born on U.S. soil and moan that the health reform act will destroy the country. Since we who are in favor of health care for all are evil people who are trying to wreck the country, is it any wonder that dedicated disciples of Palin and Boehner would decide that assassinating us is doing God’s work?

The TEA Party and Republican leadership should at least have the integrity to express their honest feelings about the shootings in Tucson. They are pleased and owe it to the country to admit it.

 

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
law-business.com
 
©2011 John B. Payne, Attorney
 
 

Afford It? We Must!

It is incredible that TEA Partiers and others against universal health care for Americans should claim that we cannot “afford” it. No responsible individual or family would fail to purchase health insurance unless so financially pressed that it came down to a choice between paying for health insurance and paying rent. Health care, like food and shelter, is a necessity for individuals and families and should be a necessity for the government. Everyone needs access to medical care–particularly children. The government cannot budget for defense and transportation and education and other government responsibilities and then say, “Whoops; no money for health care!” President Obama has finally accomplished meaningful health care reform and should be praised, not insulted.

Neo-Cons derogatorily refer to the health care reform act as “Obamacare.” If I were the President I would be proud to have my name associated with the most significant improvement in the nation’s health care system since Medicaid was enacted in 1965. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is not perfect, but calls to repeal it are the bleatings of vicious negativists. We cannot call ourselves a civilized society while more than a third of our citizens lack access to health care.

I was talking to a client a couple of years ago. I told him that we need a program of universal health care. He said, “No, that’s socialized medicine. That would be awful.”

“Gary,” I told him, “You are 42 years old, out of work and living with your parents. You have no health insurance. How much worse would socialized medicine be for you?”

Too many people like Gary are swayed by neo-Con and TEA Party rhetoric. We cannot ignore the needs of the uninsured any longer. The health care reform act is a step in the right direction. Neo-Cons and TEA Partiers who say they have a better plan are lying. They just want to leave the uninsured as they are. They have insurance and they have no concern for anyone else’s needs. The United States can afford to ensure that everyone has an affordable health plan. Anything less is uncivilized and ultimately more costly because ailments and injuries that are not treated become more serious and expensive to treat. Without insurance, patients end up visiting the emergency room, the least cost-effective venue to seek medical attention.

 

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
law-business.com
 
©2010 John B. Payne, Attorney
 
 

We Can’t Wait Until We Can Afford It

It looks as if health care reform is going to cost $1.6 trillion over the next ten years. If that is not enough to scare the pants off you, think about all of the government programs that run hugely over budget. However, this cost does not mean we should not implement a public health care plan that ensures that everyone–that is, everyone, EVERYONE, not just most people–has an adequate health care plan. This is something we need to do, as much as we needed to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. When something must be done, you start doing it.

How many families would get started if women waited until they could afford to raise children to get pregnant? Nobody, except the very rich, can afford to have children. Parents do not wait until they can afford children; they have children and stretch their means to raise them.

This is what the United States must do, now. We must implement a universal health care system and then go about finding the means to support it.

 

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
law-business.com
 
©2009 John B. Payne, Attorney
 
 

World’s Best Health Care System

It is really aggravating when people claim, without stating their basis, that the United States has the World’s Best Health Care System. In the first place, this is just cheerleading. No matter what school it is, the coach and the student council president will proclaim “We’re number one” at the Friday night pep rally. It doesn’t make any difference if the school is U.S.C. or Eastern West Virginia Polytechnical Institute, which hasn’t won a game in any sport since an opponent was disqualified during the Carter Administration. Depending on how the different countries’ health care is measured, the United States’ is undoubtedly better that Zimbabwe’s, but whether it is better than Sweden’s or Canada’s or France’s is less sure. Furthermore, the quality of the care is beside the point for 100 million uninsured and underinsured U.S. residents. They don’t get it.

Secondly, the United States does not have a “health care system.” We have a medical service industry. Then we have a health insurance industry that rations medical services based on insured status and rakes off 15 or 20 per cent. If we really had a system, one third of the nation would not lack adequate health care.

We need a public health care system like Medicare that everyone can buy into at a reasonable price. Medicare has been a wonderful success, despite all the criticism from the political right, the American Medical Association, and the health insurance industry. There are problems, but they are manageable and susceptible to reform.

Health insurance executives are whining that they cannot compete with a public health care system. What better argument could you find in favor of establishing it? They cannot compete because a public system would be fairer, more efficient, and less expensive than the private insurance industry. These executives are like muleskinners a century ago whining that the internal combustion engine will put them out of business. True, but is that a reason to outlaw gasoline?

We need an inexpensive public alternative to private health insurance. That it will hurt the insurance industry is no excuse for leaving 100 million Americans without adequate health insurance. A fair health care system is a fundamental part of the social infrastructure. It is time to fill that void in the United States.

 

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
law-business.com
 
©2009 John B. Payne, Attorney