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.