Republicans about to score big win by dismantling health care access

Apparently, the House will have to vote on its revamped health care bill before we can find out what’s in it.

The Associated Press, in its story on the MPR News site today, calls the re-emergence of the legislation “startling.”

Is it? Anyone who watched rich owners get public funding for sports stadiums and arenas in Minnesota and elsewhere may not be surprised. Politics is the art of wearing down the people. Keep asking for something wildly unpopular, and eventually people will tire of putting up enough objections to it.

A month ago, the idea that women’s health wouldn’t be covered or people with pre-existing conditions would have difficulty finding affordable coverage, sank the Republican measure, which was so flawed that it did the unthinkable: It made Obamacare more popular.

President Trump left the measure for dead and promised to turn his attention instead to “tax reform,” but then he realized the plan to provide massive tax breaks to the most wealthy Americans, was funded partially by the money not spent on providing health care access to people who are decidedly not.

So the hard-liners in the House went to work and made the measure even more hard line, while exempting Congress from its provisions, and now it’s likely to pass thanks to a single Republican vote, which may well be Minnesota Republican congressman Erik Paulsen, who was quoted on MinnPost on Tuesday as not having digested the full bill yet.

Paulsen is a likely “yes” vote because (a) when’s the last time Paulsen bucked his party and (b) he spoke on the House floor in support of the previous version of the bill just before House leadership stabbed him in the back by pulling the bill. Paulsen is a good party soldier who continues to confirm that last November’s Star Tribune editorial endorsing him was a work of utter fiction.

“Seventeen percent of the people supported this legislation last time,” Sen. Al Franken, DFL-Minn., told MPR’s Cathy Wurzer this morning. “And this is worse. Seventeen percent is the same number of people who claim to have seen a ghost.”

With time, the details of the bill will come out. But time is working against the Republican measure, which is why it’s up for a vote today. Details matter, but details can sink legislation if people find out what’s in it.

How’s that for good governing?

The bill, according to ABC News, has many of the elements that made it unpopular before. A 30-percent price hike for people who let insurance lapse, significantly increased premiums over the next decade for older people, the option of providing no coverage for pregnancy and mental health services, and a limit on Medicaid payments to states, which most certainly will result in low-income people losing access to health care.

These are all protections which congressional Democrats were too scared to defend in the last campaign.

The New York Times says the bill would allow insurers to charge older customers five times as much as younger ones. But states could waive that rule and establish an even higher ratio.

But wait, there’s more.

Today, the Wall St. Journal — certainly no liberal rag — reports that a “little-noted provision” in the bill could affect people who have the luxury of not caring about today’s events because they’ve got employer-provided health insurance.

They could lose a cap on out-of-pocket expenses for medical coverage, the paper says.

It’s part of a last-minute amendment that included giving states the right to remove all the coverage people objected to removing when the bill was up for a vote weeks ago.

Large employers could choose coverage rules from any state in its provided insurance, even states that don’t require coverage or out-of-pocket limits, even if you work in a state that does, the Journal says.

Under the House bill, large employers could choose the benefit requirements from any state—including those that are allowed to lower their benchmarks under a waiver, health analysts said. By choosing a waiver state, employers looking to lower their costs could impose lifetime limits and eliminate the out-of-pocket cost cap from their plans under the GOP legislation.

The measure would give employers added flexibility to take steps that could lower costs by limiting more-expensive coverage areas. And it would lessen the federal regulation of insurers, a goal of GOP lawmakers who believe the ACA is an example of government overreach.

The impact on employer plans expands the scope of the health bill to affect, potentially, everyone not insured by Medicare or small-business plans, since the bill also includes cuts to Medicaid and changes to the individual market. Employer health plans are the single largest source of health insurance in the country, with about 159 million Americans receiving coverage through their jobs

The good news, if there is any good news for working stiffs, is that we at least know about the provision, thanks to the Journal. The bad news is not everyone reads the Journal and knows what’s in the legislation.

A lobbyist for big business told the paper that “even if self-insured health plans are no longer banned from imposing annual or lifetime limits, they’re unlikely to attempt to squeeze the toothpaste back into the tube.”

Which doesn’t explain why Republican lawmakers want so badly to provide the option for something unlikely to happen.

How many people would lose coverage under the plan? In the last debate, the answer to that question helped sink the bill. So today’s vote will occur before the Congressional Budget Office can release its analysis.

“This is not a hard bill to grasp; this is not like Obamacare which was 2,400 pages long. This is not hard to understand,” Congressman Tom Cole, R-OK, told NPR’s Steve Inskeep this morning.

Fair enough, so why are some Republican congressmen avoiding defending the measure by saying they haven’t finished reading the bill yet?

It’s difficult to hold the nation’s attention. The gleaming new sports stadiums are a testament to that. And, soon, so will be the sick and uninsured.

Politicians are really good at this game.

  • Jack

    We’re doomed. The vote should not happen until the bill is read and understood.

    For those thinking it won’t affect them, think again. My family (with one end of year medical emergency – totally unforeseen) ended up in the max out of pocket for 2015 and 2016.

    Medical expenses can bankrupt families. We were fortunate for two reasons. One, our HSA account had enough to weather four times the in network out of pocket (2 out of network) and thankfully we were in network (aka at home and not when we were going to be out of state the following week on vacation). And two, there was a cap on out of pocket for us.

    It’s takes just one health crisis to do in a family in unless you are a multi-millionaire. ICU is not cheap.

    Politicians, be smart and think about your constituents. This is not going to make America great again.

    • Al

      We’re all one short step away from a medical crisis. This bill affects everyone.

    • MrE85

      I’m beginning to think the British had the right idea in 1814.

  • MrE85

    Troubling, but a vote in the House of Representatives does not necessarily mean the end of Obamacare, as we have seen many times before. Now, call your representative and let’s turn up the heat!

    • The game here is being able to go home and tell your constituents you kept your promise. But the game here is also playing “chicken” with the issue, passing legislation that’s terrible, hoping that the adults in the Senate cover your tushes.

      • Jack

        Playing chicken with people’s lives is unethical. For so many that run on their faith, how do they reconcile that to what faith has taught them?

        • Rob

          In my experience, people who wear their religion on their sleeve are often the biggest hypocrites.

      • Sam M

        Yeah they can tell them they tried but they also have on their record that they voted for something that when people understand what it was might not be so great. I could see a lot of commercial pieces being turned out.

        • jon

          The whole bill is now layers of “we tried” and blame shifting.

          We didn’t repeal the pre-existing condition coverage rules, we made it so the states could, and if you get screwed over blame your state government not us! We also didn’t repeal medicaid, we just shifted the burden of paying for it to the states, who didn’t opt to increase your taxes to cover it, the state government screwed you over!

          The federal government is faultless in the rule changes made by the federal government!

        • But that’s usually easily wiped away with a slick ad with a candidates kid talking about how dad plays catch and helps with homework. The reality is that most people don’t pay much attention to substance and details or records.

      • wjc

        But it’s still not clear to me why a “moderate” GOPer in anything like a competitive district would vote for this bill when they know that they will get beaten over the head with it in the 2018 elections.

        They know it’s not going to pass the Senate in anything like this form, which makes it unlikely that it will have enough House support when the Senate is done with it.

        It’s a game, but one that the House Republicans seem to be playing very badly.

        • The moderates aren’t really moderates by the usual definition. They’re moderates in comparison to the Freedom Caucus. But that doesn’t really make them moderates.

          • wjc

            Hence the quotes in my comment around “moderate”, They are still the most likely players to be thrown out in the midterms. Voting for this mess and giving your next opponent a blunt instrument to pound you with when there is no chance of this bill becoming law seems daffy.

        • DavidG

          But if they vote against it, they’ll face a primary opponent from the right. And while many of them are from districts that Clinton won, that doesn’t mean the GOP in those districts is any less radical than anywhere else.

        • RBHolb

          Paulsen is not going to get “beaten over the head” with this. The Democrats are going to be too afraid to mount an effective campaign against an incumbent in a traditionally red district.

      • Justin McKinney

        Are we still calling the Senate “adults” in the wake of the Supreme Court nomination fracas?

        IMHO, it’s high time for the politicians in this country to stop playing their damn games with our healthcare. They’re all wealthy enough to afford good healthcare no matter what they vote on, so how about at least a few of them do what we elected them to do, and take care of their constituents?

        • MikeB

          But what if they feel they were elected to reduce health insurance? They promised to do so, and people voted on that fact.

          • Yes they did and because Democrats were too scared to defend Obamacare, there was no real intelligent discussion. of it. There is ZERO question that Democrats were a big part of creating where we are right now because they conceded the turf to Republicans without firing a shot.

            For the most part, people don’t know what’s in the ACA. They just know they don’t like Obamacare. That’s why they voted for anyone willing to get rid of it.

            But the coal miners really LIKED the two provisions in ACA that meant they could get coverage for their respiratory diseases, which had previously required them to prove they were related to mining. But they just never considered that to be Obamacare.

            It was easy — really easy — to just run on hating Obamacare. But if they’d run against coverage for pregnant women, would the result have been the same?

            There’s really nothing in any polls to indicate that.

            Truly, there’s a real Wag the Dog component to this entire issue.

            Is it the politicians’ fault. Well, partly. It’s also Americans’ fault for being too disinterested in boring old specifics and public policy and just basing their decisions on slick marketing, political commercials, and AM talk radio.

            That isn’t changing, which is why people aren’t seeing the big picture of how the health care debate is actually part of the effort to fund tax cuts for the wealthy.

          • MikeB

            The GOP made false promises, took advantage of voters’ ignorance, and now have the WH and Congress.

            Like farmers voting for Trump who wants to get into trade wars. Like those who received insurance via the ACA and voted for Trump.

            It’s very frustrating and will do real damage to people’s lives. But people cannot say they didn’t know:
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e6bc8ca2445aaad65fca928f1b662573dc5e19bd0bb82fef70862e9ff620f8aa.jpg

          • RBHolb

            “Well, at least he’s honest.”

          • MikeB

            Argh. The caption was cut off. But this cartoon will be a mental shortcut for the 2016 election.

      • MrE85

        I don’t contact my representative in Congress very often, but I was moved to do so today. BTW, both Emmer and Paulson are listed as “uncommitted.” I’m told their voice mailboxes are still working.

        • They’re not uncommitted. They’re just not talking.

        • MikeB

          Emmer is a Yes. Paulson is a Yes.

        • chlost

          Emmer will do whatever Trump tells him to do. Certainly not what is in his constituents’ best interests. He won’t even meet with his constituents.

          • MrE85

            I know it’s unlikely. But a lot of unlikely things have happened in politics lately. At least I tried,

            UPDATE: Alrighty, then. We know know were you stand, Mr. Emmer.

            Remember.

          • I guess we’ll see when Trump gets around to Cuba.

    • Jeff C.

      /call your representative

      Not just “your” representative. Call any representative who is voting on something that effects you. Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said on NPR that one thing that Repulblicans like about the bill is that it is giving the States the ability to make some decisions – People in Oklahoma can make decisions for Oklahomans better than people in Washington DC can, he reasoned. By the same logic, Republican representatives should welcome feedback from Minnesotans when the bills that they are voting on effect people in Minnesota. People in Minnesota can make decisions for Minnesotans better than people in Washington DC can.

  • Mike

    There’s a word for our system of government, though current fashion demands it only be used to describe the wicked, evil Russkies: oligarchy. I’d settle for “plutocracy” as well.

    To your point about stadiums, if Zygi Wilf isn’t an oligarch, then I don’t know who is.

    Since the day is long past when politicians even pretended to read bills before they voted on them, I don’t know why we don’t rethink the pretense of having elected representatives and just vote for corporations and individual billionaires instead.

    It would be much more transparent if I knew I was represented by U.S. Bank, Dorsey & Whitney, and Delta Airlines, for example, than Amy Klobuchar (her top contributors), or by Xcel Energy, Wells Fargo, and United Health Group than Erik Paulsen (his top contributors).

    • Jack

      It’s all able greed and watching out for your own interests. This will sink civilization.

      • Jack

        about not able

    • L. Foonimin

      Awhile back there was a modest proposal that would be a law forcing all elected officials, at all levels of govt., to only appear in public wearing coveralls with the logos of their corporate sponsers, much as NASCAR drivers wear currently … time to bring it back.

      • Mike

        It really should be a requirement. It would clarify so much.

    • kat

      But in the case of this bill, business does not even benefit. The insurance industry cannot make their money in the midst of this chaos, nor can hospitals. Other than twisted political goals, I cannot see how this is beneficial to anyone.

      • Mike

        Obviously, the industry disagrees with you. Do you really think the politicians are doing this against the wishes of the industry?

        • kat

          “Obviously”
          I haven’t seen any insurance group support this. I don’t know what lobbyists are up to behind the scenes. I do know the rich get richer in the chaos if that is what you mean

          • Mike

            Yes, obviously. Insurance companies aren’t likely to trumpet the fact that they’re lobbying to remove restrictions from themselves.

  • Rob

    The kakistocracy rocks! Make America Hurt Again.

  • Anna

    This is why negative advertising in political campaigns works. If you say something often enough and long enough, people will believe it.

    Americans have only themselves to blame if their only source for news is the Internet.

    I am guessing if you forwarded a false news story to the average person living in the top ten states with non-elderly people with pre-existing conditions who voted our laughingstock president into office they would believe it, absolutely. If it’s on the Internet, it has to be true right?

    Dead wrong.

    Another common factor with almost all of these states is their level of education. Plug in the percentage of residents with a high school education and it should correlate very nicely.

    Good health and educational level are very closely correlated in countless medical studies. So is socioeconomic status.

    If Jimmy Kimmel’s tearful plea on late-night television could not sway some Republican Scrooges in Congress nothing can.

    They’ve got theirs. Why should they give a damn about anyone else? All they care about is getting re-elected.

    Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    God help us all.

    • Mike Worcester

      //If Jimmy Kimmel’s tearful plea on late-night television could not sway some Republican Scrooges in Congress nothing can.

      We could say the same about 20 dead children in Newtown, CT….

      • Anna

        I definitely agree with you there.

        We’ve known for years that guns don’t make people safer. In untrained hands the gun is turned on the homeowner with deadly results.

        Old habits and misconceptions die hard…

  • dave

    “White man speak with forked tongue” The First Nations had us pegged a long time ago.
    Politicians have earned their reputation for hypocrisy……sigh 🙁
    Politicians have earned their reputation for hypocrisy……sigh 🙁

  • MikeB

    Causing real damage to real people. And so insistent on doing so.

  • L. Foonimin

    At some point, and we are getting closer everyday, we are going to find more and more people sharpening pitchforks and lighting torches. The Trump administration is a real test of the American Experiment … I hope we can pass it.

  • chris

    At least some Republicans like Erik Paulsen who won in districts that Hillary also won are likely to lose their jobs next fall. People understand that this is cutting health care for those who need it in order to fund a tax cut for the wealthy that is coming down next.

    • Voting Paulsen out of office next cycle will be so much “Closing the barn door after the cow has bolted”.

      • chris

        Maybe, no guaranty this gets through the senate, but his vote in the house will show people who voted both for Hillary and Paulsen (I know some of them) that he is not the moderate he likes to portray himself as.

    • RBHolb

      Do you think so? Or will the 3rd District Democrats do their usual lackadaisical endorsement of a candidate, because “the 3rd has always been Republican?”

      With the proper work, Paulsen could be unseated. Let’s see if anyone is willing to do the proper work.

      • MikeB

        With the proper work? They’ve had some good candidates. But Paulson has been able to push the perception of being a moderate. He’s not.

        What candidate would win who has chosen not to run so far?

        • RBHolb

          It’s only partly about the candidate. The campaign she/he would run is also important.

          An issue could be made of Paulsen’s fear of having a town hall meeting with his constituents. It could be a riff on Paul Wellstone’s “Looking for Rudy” ads. Other ads could show constituents asking why he doesn’t think they should have health insurance. Negative? Perhaps, but negative is not the same as illegitimate.

          The gloves may need to come off, is what I’m saying. Will the Democrats do it?

          • MikeB

            My frustration has been the lack of support, but hopefully that changes in 2018. It’s been a winnable seat.

  • Al

    I work in health systems. I have a degree in health policy. To vote without knowing what’s in this bill is terrifying. To vote without a CBO score is folly. To vote with just an inkling of what’s in it is abominable.

    • chlost

      But they can tell their base they made good on their promise to repeal Obamacare. That’s all they care about. Certainly not their constituents’ or the nation’s best interests. FOLLOW THE MONEY.

  • Will

    The healthcare costs will drop if people are making economic choices, tax credits instead of payments behind the scenes puts individuals in charge of their decisions.

    • kat

      This is false because healthcare is not a choice. We cannot choose when or where we get sick. We cannot choose our hospital in an emergency nor can we negotiate prices or choose products.

      • Will

        You choose the insurance, you can still choose to not buy insurance now you just pay a fine.

        • kat

          And insurance is not available equally or affordably without the law- again not a choice

          • Will

            That’s not true now.

          • kat

            Correct. There were a lot of improvements that needed to be made to get more insurance coverage at better prices- but throwing out the first step and vilifying the process sure doesn’t help. People are suffering now from the lack of political solutions and will suffer more as these shenanigans continue

    • John

      Coldest economic choice of them all: Do I risk everything I and my children have that this disease can be cured, or do I choose to die?

      • Will

        People are paying $40,000 in yearly premiums now with a single “option” for insurance, explain how that’s a choice.

        • kat

          Insurance prices are ridiculous- but repealing the law to include people in insurance policies will not help this price go down

        • Not many people, Will. You’ve cited this before. it’s one farmer in a county where there wasn’t competition. That would obviously be a problem to address .

          Ironically, however, the Republican author of the amendment allowing some states to deny pregnancy coverage, mental health coverage, and health care for people with pre-existing conditions, had advice for people in states who need that but whose states use the waiver to deny it: “They can move,” he said.

          That, obviously, is a ridiculous solution but as long as he invoked it, that also is an option for your one $40,000 a year farmer.

          A better option would be to fix that problem rather than blow up health care for everyone.

          • Will

            How do you feel about Minnesota going back to the old system of using a high risk pool?

          • High risk pools don’t work. The AARP has estimated that premiums in high-risk pools could be up to $25,700 annually. The amount necessary to stabilize a pool would be exhorbitant and no state (or federal government) can do it.

            The very nature of insurance is to spread risk to lower the cost of the insurance. The high-risk pools are popular because the majority of people aren’t in them.

    • Healthcare premium costs and health care costs are not the same thing.

      • Will

        True, right now there is a system where many people are getting a free ride while others pay full price (much more than pre-Obamacare). If everyone sees the price and makes rational choices then overall costs will drop then stabilize.

        • Who’s getting a free ride?

          And, sure, it’s great if people make “rational choices.” Is not seeking health care because you can’t afford it a “rational choice.”

          Personally I don’t think it is and it’s well proven that illnesses that aren’t greated often balloon into illnesses that are much more expensive to treat, if you can treat them at all.

          • Will

            Anyone not paying for their insurance.

          • Like who?

            Also, you have to remember that co-payments are part of paying for your insurance

          • Will

            In my mind you aren’t paying for insurance if you aren’t paying premiums, co-pays are user fees for that visit.

          • So who’s not paying premiums?

          • But, again, that ignores the reality of insurance. If co-pays and premiums weren’t linked, then your employer wouldn’t be choosing a higher co-pay for his employees in exchange for a smaller increase in premiums.

            In many ways THIS is the difficulty of the discussion. There’s so much more that makes up the “cost” of health insurance ,]. That’s one of them. Co-pays are but one of the ways more of the cost of coverage is shifted to the “insured.”

            You know another fix that never makes it to these pieces of legislation is the ability of government to negotiate prescription drug prices. That’s directly related to the legalized bribery of campaign contributions becuase poll after poll after poll shows that people think it’s a good idea to allow it

            There are some times when politicians are just giving the people what the people want, and some times when they’re paying back their close personal friends.

        • king harvest

          The rational choice for a friend of mine will be to go to the ER and declare bankruptcy.

          • Will

            You know about the 64 day penalty in the bill, right?

          • king harvest

            Doesn’t matter. She won’t be paying any ER bills. You will, just like before.

    • RBHolb

      So my wife’s genetic disposition to diabetes and hypertension was an economic choice? I’ll have to speak with her about that.

      • Will

        Does she walk multiple miles every day?

        • RBHolb

          She works. Yet another economic decision.

          • Will

            Yep, we all do, I still walk at least 2 miles usually it’s 4-6 miles a day.

          • Joe

            And Will, if you get a disease will you be consistent and say you made an economic choice to get said disease? Or will you change your tune and say it wasn’t your fault?

          • Rob

            You could get hit by a bus while doing your daily constitutional. Hope you have excellent healthcare to cover what might be huge treatment and rehab costs. Although if it was your fault because you were jaywalking, maybe you should be denied coverage altogether.

          • Let’s keep in mind that health care isn’t all about sickness. It quite often is a matter of NOT getting sick.

            Also, if you contributed sperm at some point, it’s about you. It involvfes another person being the carrier vessel, but it’s a health issue you caused.

          • Rob

            I’m clear on the concept. : )

          • ET

            For one, how is that your business? Two, walking 2 miles a day will somehow negate the need for health insurance?

          • Rob

            Remember who you’re talking to.

          • RBHolb

            Glad to know it’s that simple. I’ll have her pass along your information to all the doctors who tell her that diet and exercise are not the panacea they are touted to be, and that (God-awful expensive) medicine is often needed to control symptoms.

            Those smarty-pants doctors, think they know everything just because they went to medical school, served an internship, and then did a residency in their specialty.

    • king harvest

      The best economic choice for many will be the ER. Going to get expensive for hospitals

  • Mike Worcester

    Apparently all those folks who thought the current administration/congress would never try to get rid of their health care access were….wrong?

    My favourite quote: “We all need it,” Oller told me when I asked about the fact that Trump
    and congressional Republicans had promised Obamacare repeal. “You can’t
    get rid of it.” Looks like they certainly are trying.

    http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2016/12/kentucky-town-reveals-the-lack-of-logic-in-health-insurance-debate/

  • Jerry

    This seems to be a standard sales tactic for questionable goods. Push something as quick as possible without giving people a chance to research it. You see it in door to door and used car salespeople, and telemarketers.

  • jon

    After all the repeated attacks for “We have to pass it to know what is in it.” we now have “We have to pass it before we know what is in it.”

    GOP really wants to make their pundits work hard to justify their actions.

    Can the Dems request the bill be read in it’s entirety on the floor before the vote? I think they can do that in the senate rules, but maybe not the house? It’d be nice if a read through of the bill could happen for everyone who hasn’t read it, or has read it and their brain rejected it out right and choose to replace the verbiage with something far less abhorrent.

  • Will

    Can we please settle down, this still has to get through the Senate, this version probably won’t get to Trump as is. This is mainly to get a minor political victory, this is for the press to report a win since they were so eager to point out Trump’s losses on this issue before.

    • That was the Republican response on NPR this morning when Tom Cole was questioned about the bill that is before them… that it has to go to the Senae and it’ll probably be changed.

      I wondered at the time how many listeners realized what an incredibly illogical and condescending answer that was to the question of defending the only legislation on which they were about to vote.

      Not many apparently.

      But, yeah, you’re right, it’s all about scoring a political win. That’s kind of why people are upset. Their access to health care shouldn’t be exchanged for someone’s political future.

      • Will

        Yeah, it’s tougher to govern when you have to take away some free giveaways that were distorting the market causing higher prices for the people actually paying into that market. It’s much easier to offer free stuff and shrug when it doesn’t work out.

        • Jerry

          Same tired old song

          • Will

            I would have mentioned buying votes if I wanted to with the same tired old song. Keep to the merits of the bill.

          • Angry Jonny

            If there were any.

          • Jerry

            Nah, every vote is for sale. It just depends to whom. This is the song where conservatives think they have worked for everything they have and everybody else is a freeloader.

          • Jerry
          • rover27

            You have to realize the to Republicans, and Will is a great example, the world is divided between the Makers and the Moochers. The Republicans represent the Makers and the evil Democrats represent the Moochers.

            And as times goes on, The Republicans are expanding who fits in the Moocher category. It now includes sick people that for whatever reason can’t get/afford health insurance. It’s a cruel, heartless party that I want nothing to do with anyone that belongs to it.

          • Jerry

            Atlas Shrugged is obviously much more influential than the Bible

        • kat

          I really don’t know what free giveaways have to do with healthcare costs. A quick primer on why healthcare in the US costs so much was recently covered on PBS
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXBPKE28UF0

        • There’s really no significant evidence that “free giveways” were “distorting” the market. The market was being “distorted” becuase it wasn’t able to do what insurance is supposed to do properly — spread the risk. And it couldn’t spread the risk properly because enough healthy people (for the moment) weren’t participating in the market.

          One of the things that’s absolutely idiotic to me is having entirely different health insurance options from county to county, which is why you might get a Medica or Aetna to agree to provide in Olmstead County, but not in Brown County. THAT’S what creates the problem of your $40,000 farmer.

          Nobody’s addressing THAT problem . Why? Because it provides a convenient political cover for a greater agenda. And the greater agenda isn’t about health care, it’s about freeing up the cash to provide tax cuts in separate legislation without — allegedly — increasing the national debt.

          So health carehas to go away by any means necessay; it’s not about fixing anything.

          And just saying “they gave free stuff to people” is closer to what politicians do to convince people to a position without having to get into details (see post on the value of details).

          There are signifixant problems with ACA and that’s one of them. Providers who didn’t participate are another Those are all fixable although significantly difficult to explain and address.

          It’s just easy to blame the problem on “those people”.

          Harmless in an blog comment section. Not so much for public policy.

          • Will

            Someone is paying for these subsidies, for example I saw a 19% increase in health insurance premiums this year.

          • I paid for people to have babies, get chemotherapy, and treat their depression. Yep, that’s how insurance works.

          • jon

            It’s all about the messaging…

            “Health insurance pays for shooting babies with particle beams strong enough to kill a horse! And, covers brain chemistry altering medications that make children more compliant!”

            Now health care sounds like a terrible thing… like you are funneling money to a supervillain.

            This is where the GOP needs to go… I can see the campaign commercials now…

          • Postal Customer

            I want my money back that paid for the road in front of your house. I want my money back that paid for the water pipe to your house. I want my money back that paid for the snow plow to clear your street.

            Pave your own road. Plumb your own water. Plow your own street. Then give me my money back, Will.

          • Tim

            Have you asked your benefits/payroll department why that is? Start with them. Mine didn’t go up by much.

          • king harvest

            Wait until next year. I bet it’ll be larger

          • Will

            I’ll take that bet! I just moved into a job with a Fortune 500 business…I would assume coverage will be much better.

          • king harvest

            Good. The company can then follow the law and offer you much worse coverage at a higher price.

          • Will

            I’ll hold you to this bet !

          • Jay T. Berken

            You do know that your Fortune 500 business, if the House passes the way it is written, can give you shitter insurance.

          • Will

            Yep and I can get a new job. I also started a business, I won’t limit myself.

          • Jay T. Berken

            Let’s readdress your luck of life in insurance in 10 years…hopefully this does not pass through the Senate to have to worry about that.

          • Jerry

            You think self-employment is the answer if you lose your employer provided health insurance?

          • king harvest

            You took a job and you assume coverage will be better? You don’t know? Is that how it works with you? You assume and call it true?

          • Will

            No, it’s a buyout situation.

          • king harvest

            Fair enough. It was a jarring statement and it seems unwise to assume coverage.

          • Will

            Well I have partial info, they cover a higher percentage of premiums. Plans look better but no clue on actual price.

          • >>I would assume coverage will be much better.<<

            I wouldn't make assumptions….

          • Will

            Well I know the plans are​ better and​will cost less.

          • …for now.

          • Will

            Well I don’t have a crystal ball… neither do you, let’s see what happens.

          • I reiterate – Have you ever been unemployed and at the mercy of the “free market” healthcare system…before the ACA was in place?

          • Will

            Nope, I generally have a job.

          • >>Nope<<

            Yeah, we figured as much.

            Let's hope that you never have that happen, for your own sake.

          • >>Nope, I generally have a job.<<

            Also – based on much of what you have posted in NC, you come across as being relatively young, invincible, and without empathy for the plight of those less fortunate than yourself….which is sad.

          • Beth Strom-Kidd

            Will is a good person. No doubt he is worthy of health care. People like us Onan, who have the bad luck of being in professions that are contracting and finding ourselves at the mercy of the market probably deserve it. In short, we’re not as worth as Will. (snark)

          • Have you ever been unemployed and be at the mercy of the “free market” healthcare system?

          • >> I just moved into a job with a Fortune 500 business…<<

            Just a bit of a warning to you – Fortune 500 businesses don't give a shit about you. You are a number, They won't hesitate to cut whole departments if it will save them $$. The higher-ups don't have to worry, they usually have big, fat golden parachutes, but you, as a worker bee, will be scrambling.

            And when you get the boot, you will probably need to obtain health insurance outside of employment.

            I hope things work out for you at that point, and if it doesn't work out well for you, think about how the GOP has taken this opportunity to screw over the American people's healthcare.

          • Will

            Oh, I know, I just formed an LLC, no company is going to pay you what you’re worth and can/will treat you like a number unless you’re in charge of the decisions. I have no illusions about working for a Fortune 500.

          • Beth Strom-Kidd

            Health insurance was increasing by double digits prior to the ACA. The subsidies were covered by a tax on the some of the wealthiest people in the country.

          • Will

            19% increase for me this year.

        • kevins

          The whole “free” stuff theme is code for progressive programs that are distasteful to republicans, but your use of “free giveaways” here is insulting…it’s the free stuff that is causing higher prices? Please…

        • chris

          It’s especially hard to take away health care when you need to do it to fund tax cuts for the wealthy.

    • jon

      We shouldn’t get worked up because there is a system of legislative checks and balances?

      Because I’d like to point out that contacting your representative is part of those check and balances, driven by the electorate getting worked up…

      So which is it, there is a system of checks and balances of which the populace is a part of…. OR we should let our representatives run rampant because some one else will reign them in eventually… and if they don’t then we can get worked up when Trump signs the legislation and we all find ourselves without coverage any more, and there is little that can be done to fix it until the next election when we throw the bums out?

      • X.A. Smith

        No, we don’t have to vote. Everybody else will vote to fix it. Settle down.

        • jon

          That’s right other people vote… I forget about that…

          In other news I hear that Trump just signed an executive order eliminating the enforcement of the tax code that keeps mosques from lobbying the government directly for sharia law.

          Settle down everyone, I’m sure someone (else) will take it to court.

    • Postal Customer

      Yeah, won’t everybody just settle down? A bunch of “leaders” in Washington just voted to destroy the lives of people they don’t care about.

      Just settle down already.

      • Will

        Yep, Obamacare did that already, the Republicans are fixing that problem. And it passed, yep, I’m tired of winning…

        • RBHolb

          Will that be your remark when you see someone who had to let their child die because they couldn’t afford neonatal heart surgery? “Dammit, I’m tired of winning.”

          • Will

            False analogy everyone gets care, the parents would let that child die shouldn’t have rights to that child.

            Elections have consequences.

          • // Elections have consequences.

            Absolutely correct which is why it would be nice if we can somehow convince Americans to turn away from the clowncar sideshows of campaigns and really focus and demand the candidates focus on the specifics of policy.

            Like that’s going to happen.

          • Will

            But the FBI investigation of emails was just such a big issue…maybe media coverage was a bit over the top?

          • RBHolb

            So does not having health insurance.

            Is “tired of winning” going to be a pre-existing condition?

          • >>everyone gets care<<

            …and then goes bankrupt…

          • Will

            So going bankrupt due to a government mandate to buy $40,000 insurance is better? Or going bankrupt paying for 2x $12,000 deductables, that makes you feel good?

          • Again with the $40,000 insurance story.

          • Will

            Is it a false story? WCCO reported on it, go ahead and debunk it if you’d like. I think it’s a good example so I’ll keep using it with different people in different situations. I’m shocked we don’t have other similar stories but I don’t think the local media is all that interested in telling those stories so we have the one.

          • I didn’t say it’s a false story and I’ve addressed it dozens of times. I’ve said it’s not a predominant situation. It’s one farmer whose problem is he lives in an area where there isn’t competition for coverage. He’s a victim of his choice where to live.

            It’s a crazy stupid situation that can easily be fixed by addressing the ridiculous situation where coverage changes from county to county. Maybe the recent reinsurance move by the Legislature will help, but I tend to agree with Britt Robson who said the problem with that is “it socializes the risk and privatizes the profits.”

            But to suggest it’s anything but an anomaly is simple inaccurate and certainly disingenuous.

            It’s basically the “welfare queen driving the Cadillac” story — health care version.

            I have no doubt you’ll keep using it.

          • Will

            Why does coverage change so drastically county to county?

          • Angry Jonny

            That would be your free market insurance carriers at work determining their coverage networks.

          • Because insurance companies negotiate contracts with health care providers individually and then the companies can opt out of the exchange in one section of the state, and not in another. So people in the state buying insurance in the individual market are not equal.

          • Will

            Btw, I’d love to hear more stories about $20,000+ yearly premium costs across the state if MPR would like to investigate those stories…did MPR do many of those stories with direct references to premium costs for outstate people?

          • Will

            Ah another story, the Lowe family paying nearly $20,000 in yearly premiums, thanks!

          • The fascinating element there was the fact MN already had a low uninsured rate. Again, the problem being that there aren’t enough healthy people to help spread the risk. In the way there are enough good drivers to spread the risk from bad drivers.

            I know. That’s hard to believe, too.

          • Will

            Coverage in Minnesota is at 97% so that 3% are all the young healthy people preventing the 97% from seeing much lower insurance costs? Really? The math doesn’t work out there.

          • >>Btw, I’d love to hear more stories about $20,000+ yearly premium costs<<

            Have you actually ever looked at how much your employer provided healthcare premiums are?

          • Will

            Yep, about $15,000 per year.

          • >>So going bankrupt due to a government mandate to buy $40,000 insurance is better? Or going bankrupt paying for 2x $12,000 deductables, that makes you feel good?<<

            No, if course not. No one should go bankrupt due to healthcare.

          • Will

            Why didn’t Dems fix it when they were in charge?

          • They weren’t “in charge” long enough after the passage of the ACA to fix anything. But you knew that already.

          • While the bill was signed in 2010, exchange signups didn’t begin until 2014. I’m sure you recall this, because it wasn’t that long ago.

            The first enrollment period for MnSure started in october 2015 but there was no way to know how many people would sign up until the enrollment period closed which wasn’t until later in 2014. Everything was a (educated or not ) projection.

            The answer to your question on the federal level is that there was no period during the ACA rollout when Democrats “were in charge.” The Republicans controlled the House and took ful l control of Congress in the exchange periods first year and Republicans didn’t want to change anything.

            On a state level, — and I’ve written about this here http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2014/01/political-reality-dflers-own-a-mnsure-program-that-fails/ — the DFL refused to acknowledge the problems because it would politically weaken them.

            as I also wrote here — http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2013/12/killing-health-care-with-a-thousand-paper-cuts-5×8-121813/#1 — the intersection of politics and health care is toxic to people because the goal isn’t health care, quite often. It’s the next election. And so the attempt was to kill MnSure by a thousand paper cuts and win an election on the backs of the suffering of people like those you’ve described.

            It was a brilliant POLITICAL strategy because it obviously worked. Republicans run government now.

            IN today’s environment of policymaking, the ACA had to come out of the box PERFECT or it was going to fail.

            Just as this effort is going to fail.

            the people? They’re stuck in the middle.

          • Will

            Your best comment of the day, I agree it’s all politics on both sides.

          • ET

            Why should a family go bankrupt to save a life? It’s their fault for getting sick? Or having an accident?

        • kevins

          To paraphrase an NPR report just now..The House voted on the bill without any knowledge of how many Americans would be affected or what the costs would be….winning eh?

  • Jay T. Berken

    Politics aside, this is just stone cold cruel.

  • Will

    I’m glad they got this done before the media could put a negative spin on the bill…if only the media covered the negatives of Obamacare as much as they put into trying to stop these GOP bills.

    • chris

      By all means blame the media for reporting the CBO score and public opinion regarding the bill.

    • Jay T. Berken

      Did you read the GOP bill to be so confident that “they got this done”?

    • RBHolb

      Heaven forbid we should know about the likely consequences of a bill before it’s voted on.

      And you may not use the old “no one read the Obamacare bill” line. If rushing an “unread” bill through was wrong then, it was wrong now. Grown-ups don’t play that kind of tit-for-tat game.

      • Will

        Fair is fair, right?

        • RBHolb

          If it was unfair then, it is unfair now.

          Or are Republicans only interested in scoring points, not in the general good of the country?

          • Will

            This is a point scoring moment, yes.

          • RBHolb

            As opposed to a welfare of the country moment.

            Good to know.

          • Will

            We have to pass the bill to see what’s in it…

          • This is true. This is about people worried about winning the next election.

            As I indicated earlier in the post, there’s nothing about this that is good governing.

            This also lays waste to the Americans who says what they’re looking for is good government. They’re lying. They want the points.

          • Will

            Hey you’re right some us see this for what this is, Trump & Ryan get to give some speeches and pat each other on the back.

            The Senate is where the real work gets done.

          • RBHolb

            Which is the fundamental problem with the gang of Republicans we no have being in charge. They have been in the opposition too long. They were elected not on the basis of what they were for (bromides about smaller government, etc., etc. notwithstanding), but for what or whom they opposed.

            Do Americans want the ACA repealed?

            Maybe, maybe not.

            Do they want “Obamacare” repealed?

            Well, now, that’s a different matter. Of course they do!

            What will you replace it with?

            Something better.

            Like what?

            Something a LOT better.

            It will go on like that unless and until the public gets sick of it and demands governance, instead of scoring points.

    • Jerry

      The ACA was created through a series of compromises between the Right and the Left. The AHCA was created through compromises between the Right and the Further Right. One was worked out and studied over a protracted period, the other was rushed through. Maybe we have a reason to be concerned.

      • Will

        Zero Republican votes on Obamacare and zero Democrat(ic?) votes on this bill. Welcome to politics today, are you new here?

        • Jerry

          Been here longer than you

        • kevins

          ACA took 18 months or so….

          • Will

            This bill will likely take about that long if it ever gets done.

        • jon

          So your case against the GOP is that they are angry toddlers who made up a plan in the 90s got made when Obama took the presidency talking about their plan they couldn’t bother to execute, and then when the Dems came to them with suggestions they threw a hissy fit and demanded the public option be removed, and then they still didn’t vote for it, campaigned against it, and smashed it with in the first few months of taking Congress back…

          You are right mind friend the GOP is a bunch of angry toddlers who can’t accept getting what they want unless they get it their way, which they also won’t be bothered to do.

          I just want you to realize that you are making a cause against them not for them, because it sounds like you support government by angry children… (What’s the Latin for that?)

          I know you know all this already, because I’ve told you it all before, I assume you opted to forget or ignore it because reality doesn’t for with you preconceived fantasy…

          • Will

            Well I was a Democrat back then so yeah…

          • jon

            Well you are defending a bunch of angry toddlers right now by pretending the past didn’t happen… So yeah.

          • Will

            They look pretty happy to me, with their bud light and smiles all around!

    • Angry Jonny

      Are you, like, alive and on the same planet as the rest of us?

      • Will

        I just have a different view than you, I know you didn’t​ expect that here on MPR but some of us like to discuss issues with people who think differently from themselves.

        • // I know you didn’t​expect that here on MPR

          there you go. I knew the patented “I’m bringing knowledge to the liberal masses” was going to surface eventually. I had the over/under set at 50 comments. It took 219 comments.

          • // Why does coverage change so drastically county to county?

            You knew the answer to that question before you asked it, right?

          • Will

            Actually no, I’m not sure why county lines are so important rather than distance from providers (though they may be directly correlated).

          • Will

            I’m not bringing anything other than my own ideas, they’re not better or worse than anyone elses ideas; they’re just generally very different than most who post here.

    • X.A. Smith

      Or know what’s in the bill. The harder they come, the harder they fall, Will.

      • Will

        Rich, remember Pelosi?

        • X.A. Smith

          Yeah, she’s like a Senator, right?

          • Will

            God I hope that doesn’t happen…

        • The comment Pelosi made is always taken out of context. Always. The fact is when ACA was voted on it had been given months of hearings and changes and the lawmakers actually DID have a chance to know what was in it. There weren’t many surprises.

          Contrast that with this bill, which, of course, came out last night.

          Anyway, here’s the full remark which was not made to politicians.
          ————–
          “President Obama said, one year ago, when he called the first bipartisan, on March 5th of last year, the first bipartisan House and Senate meeting together with many outside stakeholders together at the White House, to find a way for us to come together. And at that time, he said: ‘Health care reform is entitlement reform.’ We cannot sustain the upward spiral of the increases in health care and what that means in Medicare and what it means in Medicaid. So from the standpoint of our national budget, and for your budgets, the current system, as I said, is unsustainable.

          “Again, it’s unaffordable for families, individuals and families, for businesses of any size, and it is a cost to our economy. Imagine an economy where people could follow their aspirations, where they could be entrepreneurial, where they could take risks professionally because personally their families health care needs are being met. Where they could be self-employed or start a business, not be job-locked in a job because they have health care there, and if they went out on their own it would be unaffordable to them, but especially true, if someone has a child with a pre-existing condition. So when we pass our bill, never again will people be denied coverage because they have a pre-existing condition.

          “We have to do this in partnership, and I wanted to bring up to date on where we see it from here. The final health care legislation that will soon be passed by Congress will deliver successful reform at the local level. It will offer paid for investments that will improve health care services and coverage for millions more Americans. It will make significant investments in innovation, prevention, wellness and offer robust support for public health infrastructure. It will dramatically expand investments into community health centers. That means a dramatic expansion in the number of patients community health centers can see and ultimately healthier communities. Our bill will significantly reduce uncompensated care for hospitals.

          “You’ve heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill, one or the other. But I don’t know if you have heard that it is legislation for the future, not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care is not something that you have to pay a deductible for or out of pocket. Prevention, prevention, prevention — it’s about diet, not diabetes. It’s going to be very, very exciting.

          “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy. Furthermore, we believe that health care reform, again I said at the beginning of my remarks, that we sent the three pillars that the President’s economic stabilization and job creation initiatives were education and innovation — innovation begins in the classroom — clean energy and climate, addressing the climate issues in an innovative way to keep us number one and competitive in the world with the new technology, and the third, first among equals I may say, is health care, health insurance reform. Health insurance reform is about jobs. This legislation alone will create 4 million jobs, about 400,000 jobs very soon.

          “We must have the courage, though, to get the job done. We have the ideas. We have the commitment. We have the dedication. We know the urgency. Now we have to have the courage to get the job done. So proud that President Obama is taking the message so forcefully to the American people! This is long overdue, a hundred years.
          “The challenges we face, the health, the education, the education of our children, the economic well-being of their families, the safety of neighborhoods, all of this, all roads lead to you. The challenges we all face are too great though for each of us to face them alone. We need to form the partnerships, strengthen partnerships at every level of government and with committed and compassionate leaders to understand that the need to focus on the next generation, we need to focus on the next generation, not the next election.

          “With that in mind and with great enthusiasm and a sense of history that we have of this responsibility to ensure that health care in America is a right not a privilege; let us move forward in the spirit of restoring and strengthening our partnership, and finding solutions in difficult times. In so doing, we will realize the dream of a brighter future. Thank you for all that you do to make that so.

          • Will

            It’s a beautiful day, you should really forget about this legislation and go outside, enjoy life. I really didn’t​ mean to strike a nerve on this one.

          • Rob

            Hell ya didn’t.

    • Will

      Good idea, I’ll be sure to pick up some beer or wine for tonight. Dems celebrated Obamacare too, that mandate really angered a lot of people.

      I felt your pain you feel today when Obamacare passed. It was a big part of me moving to the right side of the political aisle.

      • Did they?

        They celebrated giving people access to health care.

        The Republicans — and you — are celebrating taking it away.

        One of these things is not like the other.

        • Will

          I don’t go to church, they began the process to remove a government mandate to purchase a product against our will.

          We interpreted​ the meaning of the bill differently, which is why we disagree on other issues from time to time​.

          • Postal Customer

            Again, Will, I paid for the road in front of your house. Against my “will” (pun intended). You stole my money. Give it back.

            Either that, or admit that we live in civilization.

          • Will

            Um, no, I just got a bill for $5,000 for the road in front of my house…literally, you want to pay that for me? Because if not, then no you didn’t!

          • Depends what community you live in but I believe road improvements are assessed to homeowners at 100%. Mine was $1900.

          • Will

            We’re getting curbs…which I don’t necessarily want but not much I can do about it now.

          • Under state law, the assessment can’t be more than the increase in the market value of your home caused by the improvements.

            I hope they told you had the right to object.

          • Will

            Yeah, they said there was a hearing, I was busy that night though…the assessments are a joke right now, I think the houses are pretty well under valued so there’s no problem with a $5,000 bump. I just refinanced and got a good rate, cut my loan back to 15 years…a slight increase in my monthly payment won’t be the end of the world.

            How did you get stuck at the office or at the computer tonight?

          • I’m at home. As long as I’m awake, I’m on NewsCut. It’s the job.

          • Will

            Well I appreciate the work you do, very dedicated to still be at it right now.

    • chris

      define “we”.

    • RBHolb

      Picture of the Day https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/26f94f1eaaa73666bf0076832c9d17a0733581d5350f599d3658e1035c14faeb.jpg

      That’s Rep. Jason Chaffetz, coming in to vote for the bill after receiving surgery for a pre-existing foot condition. Needless to say, the surgery was 100% covered by his taxpayer-funded medical coverage.

      See how happy he looks?!

    • Jerry

      Bud Light? That explains a lot.

  • Classic Reince quip:

    “The president stepped up and helped punt the ball into the end zone.”

    Football, much?

    • Will

      Reince wasn’t​ much of a sports ball player… although there was a Wisconsin Minnesota football game (2005 or 2006?) where Wisconsin won a game because the MN punter didn’t​ kick the ball out of the back of their own end zone on a muffed snap…I don’t think that’s what he was talking about here.

    • Jerry

      Somehow, I think kicking it into the “coffin corner” is a more appropriate analogy

      • Will

        An inside aircraft reference, I had to actually create a coffin corner this week on a CRJ. Good stuff.

      • kevins

        Well put!

  • “Republican House members breathe sigh of relief after GOP Senate leaders kill the bill they just passed.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-house-health-care-repeal-is-already-dead-in-the-senate_us_590b8a6de4b0e7021e95e9fd?7g

  • lindblomeagles

    What I can’t shake is just how often Republicans TOLD the American public Hillary Clinton could not be trusted; she was a crook; she was financed by lobby money, particularly from Wall Street and foreign countries. All Republicans, led by Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, have tried to do is 1) STOP an investigation into Russian money Donald Trump allegedly took; 2) ROUNDUP anybody that is Muslim or Hispanic, treat them like “scalawags” and whisk them away to “Siberia’s goolags;” 3) MAKE MONEY through Trump’s conflict of interests holdings and trips across the world which violate IN BROAD DAYLIGHT the emolument’s clause; and 4) PAY THE EXTREMELY WEALTHY with record setting tax cuts, destruction of the separation of religion and state, and, this week, nix overtime pay for workers. Let’s face it America, we NEVER should have voted for Trump. Everything in this Administration, especially Congress, stinks worse than a skunk.

    • Will

      Let’s see what happens in 2018…