Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Springtime for Trumpcare: #GOP Healthcare Fail and an Intensifying Drought Tale

The view along residential Arden Road, Atlanta, Ga., 2:52PM March 4, 2017.

This is one of my Atlanta trip pictures of which I still have up to 90 of that that I could and would like to post -- or rather, at least a subset of about half of them -- but that is just going to take a while. I may just post them piecemeal in future, topically-unrelated entries.


Apologies for lack of entry last night. By the time I got home, I was just too tired. (To be clear, it was a gym night, so it was a good tired, not a drunk tired.) I made dinner (it turned out reasonably well) and watched old sitcom reruns on Antenna TV including two terrific episodes of "Becker" (I love that show) and two good episodes of "Newhart."

Also last night, I started reading various pieces on the obscene caricature of a GOP Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill -- the American Health Care Act (AHCA) -- that emerged from the nether regions of Paul Ryan's House GOP Jacobins.

Needless to say, this immoral travesty of a piece of legislation will get exactly zero Democratic support but more importantly for its chances of NOT being passed into law, the bill has set off the entire Republican toxic biosphere to include major elements of the conservative media entertainment complex (just look at Ann Coulter's tweets), political pressure groups, and the inverted Marxist "movement conservative" faux-intellectuals ensconced in foundation-funded think tanks on the grounds that it is "Obamacare Lite."

This is about right.


To be clear, the bill (necessarily) retains certain basic legal structure of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a., Obamacare (it has to in order to allow the bill to remain a reconciliation one that cannot be filibustered), but massively reduces the available subsidies to everyone who would or could ever need health insurance -- all in order to achieve the quasi-theological Republican Holy Grail goal of reducing taxes as much as possible on multi-millionaires, billionaires, and corporate oligarchs everywhere.

Projected Medicaid Cost Shift by Year Under the AHCA between 2018 and 2027; Analysis by the CBPP.


Being a GOP bill, the money, of course, comes at the expense of the poor, in this case, from raiding Medicaid to the tune of $370 billion over ten years, although the repeal of Medicaid expansion is delayed until 2020 (see above) -- meaning a future Congress would have to actually implement the cuts. The AHCA creates a situation where someone earning $20,000/yr and $75,000/yr pretty much gets the same useless subsidy (on the order of $2,000 to $4,000 per year) to buy health insurance.

Projected annual premium tax credits available in the individual market under ACA and AHCA by 2020 for various income levels (percent of federal poverty level), for the Reno, Nev. and Mobile, Ala., markets and the U.S. average; source: Kaiser Family Foundation analysis.


Needless to say, every progressive health care policy and interest group is, of course, flat-out opposed, but in the current political climate and given how political power is apportioned in our country, they don't matter at all.

Top: AHCA versus ACA tax credits* for selected incomes and age by state; Bottom: AHCA tax credits for selected incomes and age by state; source here. Click on image for larger version.

*Note: At $20,000 income in 2020, residents of Alaska would be eligible for Medicaid, and residents of Minnesota and New York would be eligible for the Basic Health Program.


More importantly, opposition is also coming from various major players in the economy's health care to include doctors and hospital groups such as and the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association, and, to a more tentative extent, insurers. Ditto AARP.

Weirdly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to rush the House bill to the Senate floor for an immediate vote and even before the CBO has scored the bill. Jonathan Chait pointed out yesterday what a bizarre legislative strategy this is -- unless the end game is to have the bill to fail.

By way of explanation, the Senate GOP leadership -- which is passing the bill using reconciliation and therefore avoids a filibuster -- cannot afford to lose more than 2 Republican Senators. This is given its numerical majority of 52 to 48. Yet there are more than 2 who have serious reservations about it -- from both the right and the center (I won't say "left" because there is no such thing in today's Republican part.)

For his part, Trump "supports" the bill -- but that's just some verbal diarrhea that came out of his mouth or his Twitter account. Naturally, he hasn't a clue what's in the bill (nor any interest in finding out), so it's more important to look at / listen to what his HHS Secretary Tom Price is saying.

Agent Orange personally welcomes visitors back to the White House on March 7, 2017 -- and is, of course, likely oblivious to the fact that he was standing next to the First Lady portrait of Hillary Clinton.


I recommend the following reads on this topic (links embedded):

The American Health Care Act: the Republicans' bill to replace Obamacare, explained by Sarah Kliff

The GOP health bill doesn't know what problem it's trying to solve by Ezra Klein

A Plan Set Up to Fail by Paul Krugman

Trumpcare Is the Culmination of All the GOP's Health-Care Lies by Jonathan Chait

Why Is McConnell Rushing Through a Trumpcare Bill Everybody Hates? by Jonathan Chait

In reading the comments in a Washington Post article on it (which I can't quickly find right now), I came across this one by "Old Redneck":

"The only saving grace of this abortion of a "plan" is that all the knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing bozos who drove around with "Lock Her Up" and "Make America Great Again" bumper stickers will lose their insurance and die."

Wow. Not exactly John Rawls humanist or Jesus "Sermon on the Mount" Christian.

View of Southwest Washington, D.C., from my office at L'Enfant Plaza, 1:13PM March 8, 2017.


OK, I need to wrap up this entry. For tonight, a non-gym night, I would like to get a haircut and then do my laundry (multiple loads). I'll try to post an entry but it is going to be tricky.

As a weather update ...

Yesterday was another warm day -- high of 71F at KDCA, 70F at KBWI, and 68F at KIAD -- and while it rained, only paltry amounts ended and the region remains in an intensifying drought situation headed into spring. Amounts included 0.08" at KDCA, 0.06" at KBWI, and 0.19" at KIAD. (Note: The link above gets updated regularly.)

We are already in the hole for the month and significantly for the year and past 12 months.

Drought Monitor for Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, updated February 28, 2017.

Note that D.C. itself is in D2 - severe drought.


Today is a sunny, mild day with temps around 65F. The Yoshino cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin are well on their way to one of the earliest (if not the earliest) opening ever (as defined by the National Park Service).


There is a chance of rain on Friday and then it is supposed to get much colder by the weekend. Two days ago, it looked like there might be a late Saturday / Sunday late season snowstorm around here but that chance has vanished. Now there is a more tentative -- and certain to vanish -- chance Monday night (see here).

The Tidal Basin and one of its signature Yoshino cherry trees, March 4, 2017; inset shows the blossoms; Photo by CWG photographer Kevin Ambrose and posted in the above-linked entry.


One last item before I conclude: Next week, I will be very busy attending one of the EERE peer reviews that I support. I will need to be there at 8AM on three days in a row. As a result, blog posts next week will be very limited. I know I say that a lot and post away but this time I mean it.

Again, I'll try to post an entry tonight with some of my Atlanta pictures.

OK, I need to be productive today and this evening.


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