There was little joy in celebrating the political immolation of Trumpcare Friday — we’re all losers now.
I was getting coffee in the middle of no-where Kansas with a bunch of other bleary-eyed inter-staters and Fox News was on the TV. There was House Speaker Paul Ryan, looking near tears. He was explaining how he’d killed his own doomed repeal-and-replace health-care bill.
“Well thank God for that,” one man about as gray-haired as me said while several others nodded agreement.
Kansas hated Trumpcare. Kansas. A wonderland of farmers, ranchers, truck drivers, real-estate sellers, convenience store workers and other assorted conservatives and right-leaning moderates seemed as relieved as I was that President Donald Trump and Ryan had failed. Despite nuclear-strength bluster, Trump and Ryan couldn’t bully Congress into passing what is arguably to worst health-care bill ever to suck air in the Capitol.
Since nothing Trump says means anything, his following temper-tantrum and threats to make all of America suffer under Obamacare for all eternity — because we dared give his tweeted threats the bird — are equally meaningless.
Already, he’s blaming Democrats, who have been the only consistent part of the repeal-and-replace melodrama. They said no, hell no and goddam-it-to-hell-no to Trumpcare from Day One. Now, Trump’s gone beyond being the dull, creepy boor we expected and become a jarring psych-case.
Reports on Fox News of Trump’s tantrum drew shaking heads in the bustling I-70 convenience store and the group scattered.
“All I want is something I can afford so I don’t lose everything if I get sick,” one burly man in a tee-shirt told another, both sporting caps of sports teams, not presidential promises.
Republicans lost this critical political battle because they forgot what they’re fighting for. Us.
President Barack Obama signed his signature health bill into law just a few years ago because we had complained fiercely about mushrooming insurance costs and insurance companies that charged outrageous rates and then yanked away coverage when you got sick.
Obama was mistaken in thinking that if he created a plan that appeased everybody, insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, drug companies, poor people and sick people, we could create a health-care system that gave us what we all wanted. It would provide something we could afford so if we got sick, we wouldn’t lose everything.
Obama failed. In making sure that everybody won something in creating Obamacare, the average American lost.
I’m a perfect example. My crappy United Health insurance costs me about $1,200 a month. My company pays half. Miraculously, I’ve never had anything more serious than bad migraines my entire life, all the while I’ve faithfully paid hundreds of thousands of dollars of premiums. Last year, I get this weird over-night cataract and lose the sight in one eye. I have a lens implant procedure very much like a growing number of older Americans get when afflicted by typical cataracts. My friend had it done. It takes about 20 minutes. His out-of-pocket expense as a Medicare recipient was $72. My out-of-pocket cost was about $4,800.
In appeasing insurance companies, Obama set in motion a race to the bottom for high-premiums for crappy policies that require huge out-of-pocket expenses. Insurance companies complain that despite that, they can’t afford to keep at this scam because people are so sick and treating them stents and statins all the time is making them go broke.
The answer is obvious to everyone but Washington. Somebody has to lose in solving this problem. But Ryan and Trump came up with a repeal-and-replace plan forcing everybody to lose. Nobody outside of the Capitol liked Trumpcare. Nobody.
Under that plan, my premium rates would easily double or worse, and it would cover even less. Medicaid rolls would have thrown off poor people, who would then get free care because they can’t pay. So providers would pass all those indigent-care costs on to us. You don’t think they would take it out of their profits, did you? The price of care would get even more stupidly expensive than it is, and insurance companies would explode rates to compensate. That’s not my amateur assumption, but the prediction of all the experts that predicted what would happened with Obamacare.
So now what? We wait for the next health-care plan to appease all the players again? Another plan that nobody likes?
Somebody has to lose for consumers to gain. It’s not complicated nor mysterious. It’s simple economics. Somebody has to make less money for what they’re doing right now. Drug companies,doctors, hospitals, bed-pan makers. If they don’t make less, then we pay more.
Plans like Trumpcare and Son of Trumpcare can’t magically make the cost of health-care go down. Obamacare proved that.
The only thing that works is single-payer universal care. It’s called Medicare, and it works. Rather than preserve it for the most expensive group of Americans there are to treat, just offer it to everybody. Healthy, sick, young, old, employed and unemployed. We all pay in. Medicare controls the costs. For-profit hospitals lose some. Wealthy doctors lose some. Wealthier drug companies lose some. Insurance companies lose bigly. And we win, just like in every other successful nation that just shakes their heads at our stubborn stupidity.
So we can either take the same tactic as Ryan and Trump, demanding something similar-yet-different because we need a political and emotional victory more than we do affordable health-care, or we can win.