Health care bill flunks Jimmy Kimmel test

You know who is doing a better job of covering the Cassidy-Graham bill to repeal health care for Americans than many news organizations? Late night comedians. They’re at least paying attention to it.

Last night Jimmy Kimmel gave it the “Jimmy Kimmel” test, which he says Sen. Bill Cassidy helped develop. Its premise is that “no family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise because they can’t afford it.”

Kimmel said the bill passes the test and that “your child with a pre-existing condition will get the care he needs if, and only if, his father is Jimmy Kimmel.”

“Otherwise, you might be screwed,” he said.

Especially considering the federal government’s ambush of MinnesotaCare, the program for the working poor in Minnesota, there won’t be much left for health care in the nation, the Star Tribune acknowledges in its editorial today.

Among our concerns: It includes radical cuts to Medicaid, weakens consumer protections for pre-existing conditions and would reduce the aid consumers can tap to buy private health insurance. In addition, it would redirect federal health care dollars away from states like Minnesota that were early adopters of the ACA. More rural states, generally in the South and West, would get a boost.

The American Medical Association, a leading hospital trade organization, and AARP have raised similar concerns in statements opposing the bill. Nevertheless, the legislation remains on track for a vote on or before Sept. 30 — a critical deadline for passing it without reaching the Senate’s usual 60-vote supermajority. There are only 52 Republican senators, so getting to 60 would require unlikely support from Democrats. The month’s end is when the procedural window to circumvent 60 votes closes.

Republicans are attempting to slip the bill through before the end of the month, too little time for the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to “score” the bill and publish a report on its impact on Americans.

“We have more than enough information. The CBO scoring is just a detail,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said. He’s a co-sponsor of the bill.

On NPR this morning, Sen. James Lankford, R-OK, said he supports the bill because it gives power to states.

“Do states have an inherent belief in the neighbors around them that they can help provide care?” he asked.

They do, and Minnesota embraced that belief when it decided decades ago that working people should have health insurance.

Yesterday, the federal government said it didn’t much care about that.

Related: I’ve covered the GOP repeal plans since day one. Graham-Cassidy is the most radical (Vox)

  • Angry Jonny

    “Politicians”, for lack of a better term, seem bound and determined to ensure that people with low incomes are to be screwed out of health insurance. As a MNsure Navigator, I’m despondent. As a tax paying citizen, I’m f**king outraged.

  • I just can’t fathom the judgemental hate the GOP has for poor people.

    • MNIce

      That’s because the GOP doesn’t have “judgemental hate for poor people.” You don’t understand the philosophy of individual empowerment through liberty and personal responsibility. First, we don’t hate poor people; we hate poverty. If you don’t understand the difference, you may not yet have the intellectual basis to follow any further explanation, but I’ll assume you do see the distinction.

      As the late Dick Gregory stated so well in his autobiographical note, “Not Poor, Just Broke,” poverty is as much a state of mind as anything else. It is an attitude of helplessness and despairing of one’s own ability to improve one’s situation, generally to the point of failing to look for legitimate opportunities do so. Often, those in poverty become dependent on others to provide their daily sustenance, and too often they stop there. Poverty may be temporary due to injury or illness – there is no shame in accepting the voluntary gifts of others in such circumstances. But long-term poverty when one is in fair to good health is a different matter. Whatever the reason, that person is under-productive, and that must be addressed to cure the poverty.

      However, when government, particularly the national government, gets involved, there are some moral issues to consider. Walter Williams puts it this way: Suppose I would stick a gun in your ribs and demand that you hand over your money to me. Am I doing you wrong? Of course. Now suppose I do the same and tell you I am robbing you so I can give money to the high school dropout who sits around and drinks beer instead of looking for work. Am I still doing you wrong? Yes, I’m still robbing you. What if I tell you that I’m going to use the money to feed the children of a single mother who has no job? I’m still robbing you. Now what if, instead of a gun, I use the IRS to rob you? It makes no difference, the money you worked hard to get is still being taken by force and provided to a person who did not earn it.

      Benjamin Franklin observed welfare programs during his travels and Europe. He saw the detrimental effects on the poor – they lost whatever dignity they had and became childishly dependent on the programs. He concluded that it is not good to “make the poor man comfortable in his poverty. Rather, … lead him or drive him out of poverty.” (This is wisdom the Democrat Party chooses to ignore; one of the first actions Mr. Obama undertook was to remove work requirements from welfare programs despite their demonstrated success in reducing government dependency.)

      One of the more interesting examples is a long-term effect of Hurricane Katrina. Prior to the hurricane, New Orleans had nearly half of its population dependent on government welfare programs. When the hurricane destroyed their homes, many were forced to leave New Orleans. To their amazement, a large share found jobs in other cities and for the first time in their lives experienced the dignity and satisfaction of providing for themselves and their families. In this case, they had been poor because they did not recognize that they had trapped themselves in a terrible job market; New Orleans simply did not have the economic resources to support so many people. It’s too bad it took the deadly tragedy of a major hurricane to make the point.

      Ending poverty is not a matter of legislating a program for the masses. It is not a “shared responsibility.” It is something to be worked on individually. I volunteer with a private charity that encourages our clients to evaluate their situations – first, by changing their attitudes from “Poor me … gimme,” to “I must make a realistic plan to work through this.” Then we help them identify resources to deal with the immediate problem (including some we may have on hand), and for the long term map out the path to an improved situation. This may include an examination of skills and interests, and what it takes to make the combination marketable. For, unless one wants to live off the land, it is necessary to have some legitimate service or product others will purchase and so provide the means to obtain goods and services in turn. Sometimes this requires moving to a different location as well as training. (As an aside, votes for Democrat candidates in exchange for government welfare programs should not be considered a legitimate market service …)

      • Andy K.

        I think the disconnect here between what you’re saying and what’s being heard/interpreted from your posts is that you fail to show any empathy at all. High-minded intellectual arguments are certainly nice (and certainly show up here on Newscut frequently), but they don’t work when speaking to people individually. We can criticized policy as easily as breathing oxygen. We can’t criticize others lifestyle choices as easily when we’re 1:1 with them in conversation. Empathy is, and continues to be the first reason why we don’t get along with one another in this country. A lack of emotional intelligence is the other.

      • Your encyclopedic finger-wagging notwithstanding, the GOP has embraced judgemental evangelicals in a big way – and why not? Their shared philosophy is similar. My take on it is that many of them are too taken with The Fountainhead and have never cracked open The Wealth of Nations. It isn’t always about what people *should* do; it’s about practical ways to solve problems in an increasingly complex world, and no matter how much Randian ideology you spout, the real world will have its way.

  • Rob

    To paraphrase Merle Haggard: “We’re rollin’ downhill like a snowball headed
    for hell.”

  • jon

    There is an ideological divide in the US…
    It doesn’t stem from finances, though that is convenient cover for people who find themselves on the side of the argument that they find morally indefensible…
    It doesn’t stem from freedom, or states rights, or forced to buy a product you don’t want…

    It stems from a simple ideology that some people hold and other people don’t: “I care about other people.”

    I know it makes me a bleeding heart liberal to suggest that I care about other people… but the alternative is being a sociopathic conservative.

    The cost isn’t a concern… congress has no interest in balancing the budget, if they did they wouldn’t even be considering talking about tax cuts, much less spending increases on the military…

    So here we are in a world where we have folks who care about the wellbeing of others, and those who don’t care about the wellbeing of others.

    That’s where we are at… and I think it’s probably something that is offensive to the folks who don’t give a crap about anyone other than themselves to hear this… but that’s the case. if you don’t like what you are, then stop being it, don’t give some defense that it’s about money, or about freedom, or your religious beliefs (because even the satanists have a moral code that allows for some level of human empathy), or about some other lame excuse for your lack of human empathy… we’ve all seen the lack of empathy, we know you don’t care, we know you like to make fun of people who do care by calling them bleeding heart liberals, and playing the world’s smallest violin, and we know you’ll be pissed when it’s your health care that goes away, or goes up in price, because you still do manage to care about yourself…

    And for the love of all that is good, can we PLEASE stop talking about the cost of insurance, and start talking about the cost of health care! Root of the problem people, not the symptoms!

    • Jerry

      Here’s a rosy reminder that very few people seem to support this bill, so if there is an ideological divide as you say, then the vast majority of the country is on the caring side. As I recall, the previous bill was polling at something like 12% support. That’s pretty slim!

      • jon

        Yes, 12% of the country supports not caring, and nearly 50% is willing to elect one of those 12% to make decisions for them on the topic.

        That means there are ~37% of the country for whom caring isn’t a priority, (unless it’s for unborn fetuses (though once they are born, they need to grow some bootstraps, because we won’t provide them, and start pulling) perhaps?)

        And the number could be higher than that too… there can very well be democrat voting people for whom caring isn’t a priority, but something else (opposing the GOP) is a popular/driving reason for them.

        • Jerry

          >>That means there are ~37% of the country for whom caring isn’t a priority

          I’m not sure I agree with that. If we allow that there might be some people on the left who oppose the bill for reasons completely unrelated to “caring”, then shouldn’t we also grant that caring might be a priority for some GOP voters, who cast their ballots for reasons we haven’t considered?

          I think it is worth spending some time thinking about that idea. After the election, I felt much as you seem to. Since then, I’ve talked to a lot people in my extended family who voted for Trump (and in Pennsylvania, of all places!), and I’ve come to appreciate that many of them did so because they truly felt that that was the best way to help working class families. I still think they were dangerously misguided, but I was heartened to learn that at least they acted with what they felt were the best interests of their neighbors, not themselves.

          • There’s “caring” and then there’s “caring”.

            Sometimes some “caring” collides with other “caring.”

            In this case, there’s a lot of ‘caring’ about getting “primaried”

          • jon

            Trump promised “coverage for everyone” and “repeal and replace”
            So for a trump voter that might be true… they might have been dangerously misled by a conman.

            But for the house, the call was for repeal… the bill that passed the house multiple times was just repeal… the bill that passed the house and the senate in 2016 was just for a repeal… the party establishment at the time said they planned to send the same bill to a republican president to get it signed into law…

            The fact that congress’s layout is what it is shows where the voters stand on the issue as far as the people representing them are concerned.

            Though I fear many people aren’t concerned about the actual legislature, and assume that whatever the presidential candidates say during the debate is something they’d actually have the power to do…
            Trump himself said a lot of good things during the campaign, some of which I supported, and still support… the problem was he’d say the opposite the next day…
            Universal coverage, decrease military spending, etc. then repeal or let it fail, and increase military spending,etc.

    • MNIce

      This is a sterling example of why the political differences have become so bitter in the last generation. Self-serving, self-righteous arguments that seek to dehumanize the opposition (“We care for our fellow humans – they don’t) contribute nothing useful, but only serve to inflame emotions. It is the sort of claim one would see from a person who has not bothered to find out why others take the position they hold, or who has not made an effort to obtain an honest understanding of the debate.

      FYI, conservatives do care deeply about the welfare of other people – all of the people, not just a particular class. To that end, we hold a number of principles which we believe are more compassionate and effective in helping others.

      1. Everyone has a right to his life, liberty and property. Consequently, property or liberty should not be taken from him by force specifically to be given to other individuals rather than for the common good.

      2. The proper measure of success in the assistance of the less fortunate is not how many can be thus served, but how many are empowered to be productive and self-sufficient.

      3. As George Washington observed, “Government is not reason, it is not compassion, it is force.” It is the wrong agency for exercising benevolence. It is neither charitable nor compassionate to force others to provide for the day’s objects of compassion. Truly compassionate action is acting with one’s own resources voluntarily – that is a real expression of love for one’s fellow man. In particular, the federal government has taken on an entirely inappropriate role in its attempts to ameliorate poverty. In a nation as vast and diverse as ours, it is simply not practical for a central government to manage millions of individual cases. People are not square pegs to be fitted into bureaucratic pigeon holes.

      After 80 years of various federal anti-poverty programs, including 50 years of the “War on Poverty,” the dismal results are in: we are impoverishing the next generation by borrowing money we cannot repay in order to make people comfortable in their poverty. The poverty rate is as high as it ever was.

      Meanwhile, we demand that the young workers fund a retirement system that will probably never benefit them, because it is not possible to meet the $30+ trillion in unfunded liabilities. The promise of Medicare was that it would remove from families the financial burden of their elderly relatives’ medical bills. This too has proven a false promise, for the bills are merely repackaged as national debt to be paid by the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and the bills have been made much larger by the added expense of the associated bureaucracy. It is immoral and uncaring to demand that babies be held liable 18 years down the road for government debts for which they had no voice in the contracting thereof and for which they receive no direct benefit. Thomas Jefferson called the practice “swindling futurity.”

      Too often, federal welfare programs are based on incorrect premises. This is most evident in the focus on “universal” health insurance in the Unaffordable Care Act. If anything, the nation is over-insured. The use of health insurance to cover anything and everything medical has two pernicious effects: it removes the incentive from health care providers to keep prices down, and it drives up their costs by an excess of paperwork. For example, doctors with Medicare patients now spend 43% of their time filling out paperwork – up from 37% prior to the Obama administration. Medicaid and VA health care have their own problems; they are run like typical government single-payer systems, with both rationing and undercompensation for services, with consequential poor quality service. Medicare is slightly better, but it has a much greater problem with unfunded liabilities than Social Security, and will be in a serious fiscal crisis within two decades if it continues unchanged. Meanwhile, health care providers who operate on cash only – no insurance, no Medicaid, and no Medicare – are able to charge a third less than everybody else, and offer transparent, fixed pricing besides.

      Not only that, but the claim made to justify the Unaffordable Care Act is wrong. Default on medical bills by the uninsured is not only not inevitable (Mr. Obama, implying the uninsured are thieves was unjust and slanderous), it is not even the primary driver of health care costs. Shortly before Congressional Democrats rammed the Unaffordable Care Act through without properly considering its implications, a group of medical economists released their findings: the greatest driver of health care costs aside from demand created by careless health habits and a population with a shortage of young people due to abortion is – wait for it – the cost of acquiring medical technology. Most medical products cost ten times what they would be without the “FDA Approved” label because of the high costs of the approval process and liability insurance to cover astronomical legal expenses in the event of a lawsuit. A private underwriting system would by economically much more efficient.

      Of what use is a health insurance policy to prevent medical bankruptcy when families are bled to death financially by high premiums and high deductibles? When the premiums make it impossible to save for emergencies, the family has no money to cover the deductibles. This is the most noticeable effect of government-required health insurance with coverage mandates. The insistence on maintaining more of the same is unreasonable, and ultimately the wrong kind of caring. President Reagan was right: “The nine most frightening words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ ”

      Some things are too important to leave in the clumsy hands of the federal and state governments. Health insurance and health care are among those things. It is not so easy, but it is far more effective for individuals to take personal responsibility for their own health care and personally to help those whom they encounter who need help with their medical bills. I for one am working on a voluntary fund-raising system for county medical assistance programs in preparation for the day when the Unaffordable Care Act is finally removed from the system.

      • // he opposition (“We care for our fellow humans – they don’t) contribute nothing useful, but only serve to inflame emotions. It is the sort of claim one would see from a person who has not bothered to find out why others take the position they hold, or who has not made an effort to obtain an honest understanding of the debate.

        I’m sorry, but no. The Republicans broke this process and Republicans own. They’re not interested in a conversation and sharing of facts and perspectives. That’s why they’re trying to sneak a bill through without “order”, as Sen. McCain claims. This isn’t normal. This isn’t a legitimate democratic process.

        Emotion? Yep, that’s the only weapon people have. Damn right they’re going to use it.

        The problems you highlight are real. But there was never a technical bill passed after Obamacare as there always is with major legislation.

        It’s been seven years of opportunities to try to do so and to fix the elements that are broken.

        The Republicans weren’t interested in fixing anything or have it work because it was a tool to use for election and re-election; why should they try to fix it?

        They’re choking on it now.

        Maybe someday both Republicans and Democrats will sit down and recall that health care was an issue before Obamacare was even proposed . It’s still an issue.

        It’ll take two parties and the will to lead rather than pander.

        I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

        As for your budgetary concerns, Republicans just passed a $700 billion military budget, an $80 billion increase…..even though Trump only requested $54 billion.

        Not hearing many complaints about that, oddly enough.

        • MNIce

          The reason there were no “technical fixes” is because the concept of Obamacare is hopelessly flawed; it’s no more practical than a cast iron ornithopter. In general, Democrats argued that it was wonderful and consequently made no attempt to offer major improvements (all the while hoping it would crash the system so they could offer Medicaid for everyone). Republicans viewed it as folly and tried to send everybody back to the drawing board, but Senate Democrats and Mr. Obama would have none of it.

          But contrary to your assertion,Republicans are by no means ignoring the various interests, including those who want to keep parts of the bill they find personally profitable. That’s why they’re having trouble coalescing a majority vote. Democrats, as before, have no interest in a fix; they still have fantasies of enacting socialist medical care despite its dismal record in many other nations.

          The Department of Defense is trying to make up for eight years of funding deficiencies and mismanagement at the top level. The Marines have literally had to raid museums to get parts for their aircraft, and the Air Force has had to ground ten percent of its remaining B-1 bombers to get parts for the others. There was not enough money in the personnel budget to retain aircraft mechanics, so necessary maintenance has had to be put on hold. Nor was there enough money to purchase fuel and supplies for training flights; consequently, pilots not deployed on combat missions have not had enough flight time to stay fully proficient. Military aviation was by no means the only shortfall; it just happens to be the aspect with which I am most familiar. Despite all of this “cost-cutting” in the military (really, funding deferral, with associated extra expenses to come later), the Obama administration still managed to nearly double the nation debt. So yes, I do have a complaint about military spending – bad management in the past is going to cost us a lot more in the future. Let’s just hope the cost doesn’t include a lot of lives of our service members.

      • jon

        No my intent was not to dehumanize people who don’t care about other human beings, they did that long before I got here… if you don’t like who you are CHANGE… if you do like who you are then why make excuses?

        as for your bullet points… BULLSHIT!
        1) If the GOP doesn’t want property taken from people by force and given to others, why did jeff session make it easier for property to be seized by police without justification for charges being filed?

        2) ok, so how does letting people die from treatable medical conditions, or let them deteriorate to a point where they get treated for a higher price actually get us there? It doesn’t…

        3) the government is empowered to deal with poverty and any other issue facing it’s citizenry… as a matter of fact as a course of keeping the peace dealing with poverty is one of the cheaper things that can be done… not that money matters, because as I pointed out there is no interest in decreasing the deficit so any argument based around dollar figures can go right out the window.

        Further down I think you endorse Michelle Obama’s fitness and eating right programs…
        Then you agree with me that we should be focusing on the cost of health care not insurance… (though you toss in some some nonsense blaming abortions for the cost of FDA approval… weird.)

        Oh and then there is the local control aspect… did you hear about the GOP senator who was introducing legislation to ban single payer systems at the state level… States are not square pegs to be fitted into bureaucratic pigeon holes. Local control and states rights my ass… just like local control and states rights for same sex marriage… so long as you agree with us, local control, otherwise, a different level of local control! Bullshit arguments dumped out from on high and repeated on mass.

        I’m calling BULLSHIT on all of your arguments (I did so in advance even… it’s almost like there “is convenient cover for people who find themselves on the side of the argument that they find morally indefensible.”)

        I’m not saying you personally don’t care about other people, I’m going to type up something below replying to jerry to address that a bit better… but these individual posts are getting long so breaking some things up by topic is going to be easier to read.

        • MNIce

          You didn’t read my post very carefully. Maybe you didn’t intend to dehumanize your opponents, but that’s the effect your argument – you are trying to paint us at unfeeling and uncaring, and lower in morality than yourself.

          1. Maybe you aren’t familiar with the many complaints from conservatives about asset forfeiture, and our dismay that Attorney General Sessions has taken the position he has. You should realize that Mr. Sessions’ position is an aberration among conservatives.

          2. Your reply is a non sequitur. Helping people to be self-sufficient is not going to lead them to die from treatable conditions. It’s been shown that the opposite is true; people dependent on Medicaid have significantly worse outcomes than those who are able to fund their own health care.

          3. Poverty does not necessarily lead to violence; but crime often leads to poverty. In other words, you’re reversing cause and effect. Buying off the poor with government money in hopes of “keeping the peace” hasn’t proved effective – just look where the majority of violent deaths occur. It doesn’t even work in Europe.

          What part of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution do you not understand? The federal government is prohibited from involving itself in matters not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. There are a multitude of violations in the present Federal Code because the people have been remiss in enforcing the Constitution. That’s because so many covet the money of their fellow citizens for their pet causes and see the federal government as a means to get it.

          I knew you didn’t read very carefully when you thought I linked abortion to the cost of medical technology. Let me try to write this at a fourth grade level:

          There is a large demand for health care. One cause is poor health habits. Another cause is an abnormally high average age. The average age is high because one out of every three babies was killed by abortion between 1973 and 1999. Therefore, we have a shortage of working-age people in the population to pay the bills, and we have a relatively high number of older (and sicker) people. Besides these demand factors, the high price of medical technology drives up the supply cost. These factors are much more significant than default on medical bills by the uninsured. Is that simple enough?

          Recognizing that poor health habits contribute to half of the demand for health care does not imply agreement that a government-based or even government-promoted program is “the answer.” I would say that among other things it indicates that the effectiveness of health education classes in the government schools is not what it should be. Health habits are a personal responsibility, although some poor health habits (particularly substance abuse and extra-marital sexual activity) have social consequences beyond increasing demand for health care services.

          If Vermont or California want to go broke and make their citizens miserable with single-payer health care, that’s their business, so long as they don’t expect the rest of the nation to pay for their folly. The federal government has no constitutional authority to stop them unless in so doing they are violating rights guaranteed in the Constitution.

          • The 10th amendment issue was litigated and settled.

          • jon

            *eye roll*

            You bring up unrelated point, and then call an attempt to bring it back to the topic at hand “non sequitur”. (the topic at hand is healthcare.)

            How does letting people get sick and only treating them when it become an emergency (an expensive emergency) help them become self sufficient?
            You want them to be self sufficient.. you also are defending legislative actions that would be detrimental that…
            It is already pretty telling to me that you avoided it once… and pretended like it was unrelated to the topic at hand instead.

            In the interest of brevity, I’ll just let anyone reading this thread* decide for themselves, on the rest of your arguments, because picking apart every argument and falsehood you presented (some times doing it for the second or third time) doesn’t seem like fun for anyone**

            *heck if anyone besides bob (who is getting paid to read this nonsense) is reading this I’m impressed, I’d give up after the first or second ridiculously long post for a conversation I’m not involved in.
            **especially you poor fools who decided to read this whole thing… hats off to you again.

  • wjc

    One additional thought. The GOP folks who are cobbling these bills together always talk about lowering premiums, as if that is the cost of insurance. It’s not. What good are lower premiums if you can’t afford the deductibles and the copays which make up the total out of pocket costs of a plan?

    • Right. The reason the premiums come down is because so little will be covered. Like pre-existing conditions.

      And, of course, the CBO scores of past GOP bills shows that premiums don’t go down for a lot of people; they go up. a LOT. More than the current system.

      • Andy K.

        The new “un-insured” are and will be within this bill, the “under-insured”.

  • crystals

    This is what using your platform looks like.

  • AL287

    No amount of insurance is enough if it doesn’t pay for anything which is what this bill currently does. There is not a middle class family in the U.S. who has $6,000 and up just lying around somewhere. This is catastrophic insurance disguised as lower premiums.

    The Republicans are slipping it in under the radar while the gullible public is distracted by hurricane disasters and the outlandish and indefensible threat by Trump to take out North Korea.

    The leopard hasn’t changed his spots. He’s gone back to the pugilistic rhetoric that got him elected in the first place.

    This is a human tragedy far beyond the likes of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Those will be a distant memory a year from now.

    Many have dreaded preexisting conditions through no fault of their own. They inherited them from their parents and they are many in number—sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, breast cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, cystic fibrosis and many more.

    Why should Minnesota be penalized because it had its version of “Obamacare” 20 years before any other state?

    Bill Cassidy is a physician, for God’s sake! He of all people should know what healthcare costs and the inhumanity of allowing preexisting conditions.

    As Jon so correctly stated, it’s the cost of healthcare not insurance, stupid.

    • X.A. Smith

      //Bill Cassidy is a physician, for God’s sake!//

      Maybe when he took the Hippocratic Oath, he thought he was taking the hipocritic oath.

      First, do no harm. Indeed, Dr. Senator.

  • lusophone

    What if the majority of the American public didn’t get health insurance and the hospitals were flooded with non-insured patients and those patients just didn’t ever pay their bills. Would the government then be forced to bail out the hospitals? Would Congress be forced to come up with a plan to pay for healthcare for all?

    • it would be a field day for bankruptcy lawyers.

      • lusophone

        What happens if someone doesn’t pay one of those astronomical healthcare bills that you hear about in the news? Do you have to file for bankruptcy? If you don’t can they take away your house? I know what happens if you don’t pay the smaller bills, you get letters from collection agencies threatening things, but not much other than that. Wondering if there is a certain level where they haul you off to jail or something like that.

        • Barton

          I know 2 people who have filed for bankruptcy due to medical bills. They filed after they sold their homes and all other assets, as well as after taking out 401(k) loans.

          One had cancer: she died and her family couldn’t cover the costs that weren’t covered by her insurance. The other has Type 1 Diabetes that he hasn’t been able to “stabilize” (for lack of a better term) through diet and drugs. It lead to having to have both feet amputated. The cost of his test strips for diabetes are still not covered by his insurance through his job.

          • Barton’s two examples illustrate one of the the main arguments for universal health care.

          • lusophone

            Did they sell their homes to pay for treatment they already had received or was it to have money to pay for continuing treatment? Please excuse my ignorance on this subject. I’m just wondering if they would have continued to receive treatment even if they didn’t continue to pay the accumulating bills.

            The pharmaceuticals I can understand, if you don’t have either the insurance coverage or the cash to pay for the goods, they won’t hand it over to you. Pretty straight forward.

            Emergency rooms have to treat whoever shows up as I understand it.

            I’m not sure how it works with an illness, though, something that needs to be treated in a hospital.

    • Taxpayers already foot the bill for uninsured health care. In 2013, before the complete implementation of the ACA, the cost of “uncompensated care” provided to uninsured individuals (~40 million uninsured persons in 2013) was $84.9 billion. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, passed in 1985, requires that hospitals treat all individuals in need of emergency care
      regardless of their insurance status.

      • lusophone

        So what would happen if even more people didn’t pay for the care they received? Would that force the hand of Congress to do something?

        • jon

          We already did that.

          Back in 2010 Congress passed the affordable care act, which encouraged people to get insurance* so they could have more preventative care, which is cheaper, and drive down the number/cost of emergency room visits.

          The law took effect and in 2014 the cost of “uncompensated care” went down for the first time since 1980…

          So we fixed that problem… now we want to unfix that problem.

          *both through financial incentives, making the markets easier to navigate, and increase taxes if they didn’t get insurance.

          • lusophone

            We may have decreased uncompensated care, but pretty sure the cost of healthcare continued to rise. Employer provided plans are basically catastrophic plans that prevent us from even using the insurance in the first place, except for a quick yearly check-up with a family practitioner.

            What I’m getting at is that we are going to reach a point where most of us will not be able to afford healthcare even with insurance. It’s already happened in our household, for years now. The name ACA kinda pisses me off, because healthcare is not affordable. I understand that forcing all to join in was supposed to help lower costs for everyone, but I personally don’t think it went far enough.

            I am not in favor of repealing the ACA, but we need to go further and provide Medicare for all, IMO.

          • jon

            I don’t disagree… However, we did force congress to do something, we made it a topic in a national election because things were getting bad, and the ACA is what they did… and it did make things better, but better isn’t necessarily good… it’s just not as bad as it used to be…

            I guess the lesson here is don’t expect congress to do what you want when you force their hand.
            Or maybe, don’t expect congress to do much more than the bare minimum (which even that they can’t manage some of the time with various budget/debt ceiling crises happening twice a year.)

          • “… we need to go further and provide Medicare for all, IMO.”

            And that is, more or less, what the Sanders plan advocates, doesn’t it?

            That said, the ACA was intended to do just what the name implies. But, because of heavy lobbying and lots of campaign contributions, the health insurance industry was not also reigned-in vis-a-vis insurance premiums. In fact, insurance providers were able to cancel existing policies (even plans that were “grandfathered”) and force new, more expensive policies into the hands of some customers. That was a move not foreseen by ACA planners.

            “When the health law passed, President Barack Obama sought to reassure anxious consumers by promising that ‘if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.’ Since then, the number of grandfathered plans has steadily declined.

            “In 2011, about 72 percent of companies that offered
            health insurance included at least one grandfathered plan; by 2014 that number had declined to 37 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s annual survey of employer health benefits.”


          • Sanders should’ve waited a couple of weeks b/c now you’ve got on-the-fence GOPers being told that if they don’t pass this thing…the existing framework will lead to universal health care. Whether it’s true or not is irrelevant. But he gave the GOP something to sell .

          • lusophone

            Pretty soon the existing framework is going to lead to pitchforks and torches.

    • MNIce

      If health care providers would not be assured of collecting whatever they charge, no matter how outrageous, perhaps more people could afford to cover their medical expenses without help. An excessive reliance on health insurance for common charges insulates the health care business from economic reality.

  • Jeff

    It’s overstating the obvious but it’s all about saving jobs – Republican jobs in Congress that is. They promised a repeal to the base and by God there’s going to be one regardless of how many people have to die. They have enough lies and obfuscation to hide behind. Shaming and sputtering about how bad it is does nothing.

    • Barton

      what continues to blow my mind is that a significant number of their base have been helped by the ACA, but that base still wants it to go away.

      • Jeff

        Well, you know it’s big government telling them how to do their health care.

        • Jerry

          A lot of them think that women should have to pay more for health care because they had the bad luck of being the gender capable of having children. But that’s ok, they make up for it by believing women should be paid less for the same jobs as men.

          That makes sense, right? /s

    • Jay T. Berken

      “It’s overstating the obvious but it’s all about saving jobs – Republican jobs in Congress that is”

      I’m sorry but are we back talking about the Vietnam documentary again… 🙂