Politics

An Appeal to Our Humanity (Part 1)

I know some of you are tired of my frequent political posting (I should probably just be a good porn star and stick to posting naked photos, right?), but I plea with you to consider your power as a citizen in these coming days, weeks, months and years. I plea with you to use this power to help your fellow citizens. Some of you might argue that I, along with many others, are yet too paranoid about a President Trump. Perhaps we should really wait and see. However, I’ve lost just about any shred of political optimism I’ve had since Trump took office, and for good reason. Those of you who will indulge me, please allow me to expound on, in truly as brief a manner as possible, my fear of what’s to come. There are many who need your help. I am asking for your help. This will be one of many blog posts over the next several weeks addressing my concerns in the era of Trump.

 

First, people close to me – people that are special to me and that I love – are potentially going to lose their healthcare. I get it – some of you are angry about having to pay higher premiums and higher taxes under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), myself included. Some of you are angry about having to purchase health insurance at all. When I moved to California in December of 2014, I enrolled in a Platinum 90 PPO healthcare plan with Blue Shield of California and had a premium of $388.89 per month. I do not qualify for any subsidies. My premium for 2017 is $571.43, nearly half of what I pay in rent. Seems a bit disproportionate, right? But the fact of the matter is, even though the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, more people in the United States have health insurance than at any other point in the last 50 years, and definitely the best quality of coverage than at any other point in history.

 

Definitively, numerous lives have been saved and improved under this law. Most notably, people can’t be denied coverage or kicked off their plan for having a pre-existing condition. People are able to receive routine medical treatment for chronic conditions, afford otherwise unaffordable prescriptions, and receive preventative care allowing individuals and society to save big on long-term healthcare costs. Also, gender discrimination and lifetime limits on coverage have been abolished. Insurance companies can’t charge women higher premiums based on gender alone and people can’t run out of coverage due to surmounting costs of an expensive medical condition. These are all very real, very good things given to us under the Affordable Care Act.

 

The ACA admittedly, as the previous administration put it, has some “growing pains”. The market must adjust to the new rules and states must be willing to cooperate in order for the law to provide maximum benefit to the maximum number of citizens. For some, this means higher premiums, but premiums overall haven’t increased that much when you control for the steady rise of healthcare costs over time and also consider that premiums under the ACA are actually below previous projections made by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Those hit hardest by higher premiums are those who reside in states that haven’t fully cooperated with the federal government to implement the law.

 

As for the insurance companies, it’s true that many are unable to maintain the profit margins of the pre-ACA era, but the federal government has gone to great lengths to absorb most of the new burdens placed on these companies to ensure most of them return to solvency and are able to turn a sizeable profit in the long-run. Premium adjustments and the length of time it will take for insurance companies to regain their profit margins are the most painful of the growing pains, but society will be much better off as long as states are willing to cooperate and Congress does not de-fund the ACA using budget reconciliation tactics or somehow manage to repeal the ACA altogether. The fate of the Affordable Care Act will depend on citizens getting politically involved, writing their congresspersons and putting pressure on all levels of government, especially local governments.

 

Truthfully, states that have been most susceptible to premium increases and market volatility are those that have refused federal aid and those that have refused to expand Medicare and Medicaid. Most of these states happen to have Republican majorities controlling their governments. Ironically, it is mostly these same states whose constituents need the Affordable Care Act the most. Since its inception Republicans have misled the public with claims that the ACA is failing and that it is bankrupting the country, but this is true only to the extent that Republicans have done everything they can to impede the full implementation of the law both at the federal and state level. Republicans have actively tried to undermine the law and then blame it for being a failure. Unfortunately, the failure has been on the part of Republicans by not being able to keep the interests of the American people at heart.

 

One might ask what malice would lead Republicans to do such a thing. Surely, I’m just being biased, no? The thing is, a very select few extremely powerful people have been adversely affected by the law, but only in a minor way compared to the life-or-death situations of those who can’t get the healthcare they need. Those with an annual income of over $200,000 have been made to foot most of the bill for the ACA, and then there are the insurance companies who have seen their profits decline as a result of having to take on a broader, sicklier consumer base. What this boils down to is taxes and profits…you know, the usual.

 

Just over half of Americans believe that healthcare is fundamental right. I am one such American. My hardworking family of a modest income has endured too many costly, almost impossible situations for me to believe otherwise. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the next best thing to universal healthcare, but nearly all Republicans fundamentally oppose universal healthcare. The ACA was a compromise at the time of its passing. Essentially, it was the best deal that could be struck between the rich, insurance companies and the rest of America. Many were tired of having to struggle to pay for healthcare at the expense of all else—our dreams, our futures, our homes, our educations, our children, holidays, vacations…sometimes even the very food we work to put on the table.

 

Let’s be honest: the majority of Republicans care nothing about paying for the healthcare of others, even though with rising healthcare costs, the majority of Americans can’t afford out-of-pocket medical expenses or a decent healthcare plan, at least not one that includes the necessary provisions to be reliable. Too many conservatives are blind to this reality, or frankly just don’t care. For them, the reality is survival of the fittest (or richest), or at best some delusional Randian Objectivist reality. Society cannot function and thrive under these conditions; au contraire, society breaks down under these conditions. Government, as inefficient as it may be at times with spending, and subject to corruption as it may be, nonetheless ensures our reality is a survivable one. This requires each of us to pitch in for basic necessities like healthcare, education and infrastructure. Let’s stop Trump and the Republican Party from destroying Obamacare and the American families that depend on it.

 

8 comments

  1. Well yes of course be a good porn star, but you’ve shown a better side of you…use your platform to keep your fans engaged and enraged over this new administration…our lives depend on it!!

  2. When you have an audience, use it!! Having a brain is sexy too dude. Thanks for sharing. The women’s march here in Chicago had some beautiful energy, that I hope can translate into a movement for positive change. It was about raising people up, standing up with those that are maligned. I think you’re doing something similar here, talking about the human cost of the repeal of the ACA. I think the most important things we can do during this difficult time is look out for those that will be most hurt. Communities of color, low income, trans, and recent immigrants are all in more perilous situations than they would under a different administration. Reminders of that are important so Il Duce doesn’t ever become normal.
    PS I would never say no to naked pictures of you…

  3. Keep up the good work in this and all other aspects of your life. And consider running for political office.

  4. I appreciate the sentiment of your appeal, however, despite what the affordable care act means for those who have never had insurance coverage (and the twenty million or so that still do not), we cannot overlook nor overstate the serious and myriad constitutional, economic, and moral issues raised by the act itself.
    The centerpiece of the ACA is the individual mandate, the very existence of which is an affront to civil libertarian values and classical liberal ideas. The mandate requires that every person in the United States obtain health insurance if they do not presently possess it; the reason for the mandate need not be restated. The mandate in and of itself is an edict from the Government that requires American citizens to purchase a private good. There is no provision in the Constitution that grants the state that kind of authority. In fact, when the Supreme Court was grappling with this very issue it could find no provision to preserve the individual mandate save Congress’ taxing authority, and even most constitutional scholars found that to be at best dubious. If the Government can compel consumer consumption like this in the name of the greater good, then we have a true constitutional crisis to consider and the potential implications set by this sort of precedence beg our true concern over and beyond whatever sense of compassion we might have for those in need of healthcare.
    I am also troubled by the idea that the Government could mandate business practices for a private concern. The requirement that all insurance companies provide a basic basket of goods (coverage) for every policy they offer is just principally orthogonal to basic tenets of private ownership and free market principles. This is to say nothing of the actual costs of these regulations. Prior to these mandates insurance companies offered low premium, low co-pay, high deductible plans that were quite popular with young adults who remained relatively healthy and saw their doctors two to three times per year at most. Plans like these are all but none existent today. It is compliance with these new regulations that have caused premiums to rise and caused several doctors to refuse to receive new patients who use these services.
    I would like to also go on the record as saying that based on the statistics you site in your essay, I am part of the minority that believes that healthcare is not a right. My objections are not merely philosophical though they stem from a basic belief that you cannot claim a right of any sort that can only be secured by the actions of another person; if it is dependent it can neither be inalienable nor can it be freely expressed. To the extent that healthcare requires the skill and care of trained medical physicians who are entitled to compensation commensurate with their service, no one can claim to have a true right to healthcare. Again, this is not a mere philosophical argument, we must deal with the fundamental reality that while being healthy is a virtue and a blessing, healthcare is a free market bundle of products that have definite costs that must be paid.
    The relationship between the government and the private sector, private insurance companies, portends something good for the nation, however, the government did not do nearly enough to consider the various ways to control costs or to make insurance affordable without the imposition of Government mandates. We dismissed out of hand solutions like regionalized high risk pooling, alternative and variable service insurance plans, borderless insurance sales, competitive bidding, and lifting the ridiculous ban on the sale of prescription drugs from Canada, etc. Whatever reform is to come, and there is no doubt that it is needed, it should start with applying solutions that are free market oriented in nature.

    I am certainly sympathetic to the health concerns of the previously twenty million Americans who did not have health insurance of any type prior to the ACA, but I cannot ignore the weight of other issues that threaten in the name of benevolence. Your heartfelt plea is hard to resist because it certainly speaks to our/my humanity, however, sound public policy should be guided by pragmatism first and empathy when possible. Just my thoughts, please feel free to disregard them all.

    1. What young person bought a catastrophic plan before the exchange?! To say they were quite popular is a falsehood. When hospitals are mandated to cover everyone that walks through the door regardless of their means, we are establishing a right to healthcare for everyone, but the cost is shared by only those who pay. While I totally disagree with your opinion that healthcare isn’t a right, I do think some.of.the market based solutions that you offer are sound. Without the individual mandate and it’s penalty tax, where do the funds come from to cover those who can’t pay? Without subsidies to insure the poor that don’t qualify for Medicaid, their medical expenses will be shouldered by higher hospital bills for everyone else. High risk pools concentrate the most expensive, rather than spreading their costs amongst everyone.
      I assume you’re a libertarian, but could you see any benefits to a single payer system?

      1. Point of clarification, I did not and do not maintain that catastrophic insurance was in and of itself a popular insurance option; empirically we know that is not the case. I maintain that it was popular among young adults (typically in their late twenties to early thirties) who work as independent contractors, are self employed, or work in professions where health insurance is not an option but where they make enough money to afford this type of insurance – which is not much. I would also contend that the general lack of popular appreciation for this type of insurance was do to a lack of widespread knowledge of its existence and or its benefits.

        As for the question of whether healthcare is a right, we do deeply disagree on this point. In this country we maintain that a right is both inalienable and God given. God given does not denote that it is actually given by God (though the framers certainly believed they were) but that they could not be given by governments. The idea that a citizen enjoys a right simply because the Government deems it to be so undermines the principle belief of the inalienability and supranational nature of rights. Just because the Government mandates that a person cannot be turned away from an emergency room does not mean that they enjoy a right to comprehensive healthcare. All that means is that the freedom of a private entity to deny service has been restricted. Under a rights regime where we limit government to allow for the liberty to exercise our rights, the idea of one being created by a government fiat that limits, not itself, but a private concern so that another can enjoy a right evades the principle. Healthcare is a good in free market exchange that has become subject to government regulation, but is not in and of itself a right.

        I appreciate the fact that while we do not agree on the previous issue, we at least agree that there are a number of worthwhile, free market solutions that we can employ that would help to defray the overall cost of healthcare in this country. High risk pooling just happens to be one of my favorites because the elements of it work so elegantly together if planned well. Efficiency is quite the potent aphrodisiac.

        I am, I would say, more libertarian leaning than libertarian, as I am quite contrary on issues like Affirmative Action and public education. Outside of those two issues, you can say that I am a veritable free state warrior.

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