The radical Trumpcare scam hidden in the Senate tax reform bill

Republicans in Congress are rushing to advance a tax reform bill that balloons the federal deficit so that they can give corporations permanent tax breaks. And now Senate Republicans have decided to turn their already awful tax bill into a secret Trumpcare bill by including a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

While repeal of the individual mandate may seem like a small change to the casual observer, the impact would be radical, especially in conjunction with other administrative and regulatory changes coming down the pike from the Trump administration. The tax reform bill puts everyone’s health care coverage at risk, all to make tax cuts for corporations permanent.

The individual mandate protects people with pre-existing conditions

First, a quick review is in order: Few Americans want to go back to when kids with asthma and breast cancer survivors could be charged more or denied coverage due to their pre-existing conditions. But the individual mandate is essential for guaranteeing these protections. When the ACA required insurance companies sell coverage to the old and the sick without charging them sky-high rates, it had to make sure that the insurance market wouldn’t go into a death spiral due to only the sickest seeking coverage. Insurers would need more young and healthy customers to balance out the costs of covering people with pre-existing conditions.

Most health economists and industry insiders agree that a coverage mandate is the best way to make a market-driven approach to universal coverage work. More than seven years after passage of the ACA, Republicans in Congress have yet to propose an alternative that would protect people with pre-existing conditions.

The individual mandate stabilizes health insurance markets and keeps premiums down

Absent a mandate, healthy folks could go uninsured and sign up for coverage only when they need it. Since insurers wouldn’t be allowed to deny coverage to the sick, they would have to continually raise premiums to balance out the high per-enrollee-costs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that premiums would increase by hundreds of dollars each year for middle-income Americans and by thousands for older Americans if the mandate is repealed. While the ACA’s financial assistance remains in place under the tax reform bill, many Americans make too much to qualify, and they would increasingly be priced out of coverage.

Mandate repeal is the first step toward Trumpcare’s high risk Pools

Repealing the mandate on its own would leave 13 million Americans uninsured, according to the Congressional Budget Office, with about 408,000 North Carolinians losing health insurance coverage. But the impact could be even starker given the Trump administration’s planned regulatory changes.

As announced via executive order last month, the Trump administration is planning to flood the health insurance market with loosely regulated bare-bones plans. The executive order has yet to be implemented, but new regulations are forthcoming from the administration. Under the guise of expanding choice for Americans, these Trumpcare changes would destabilize the ACA’s insurance markets and further jeopardize protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

As NC Justice Center’s a statement from the NC Justice Center released on the day of the executive order explained:

“By expanding the sale of loosely-regulated short-term plans, the order aims to pull out young and healthy enrollees from the Marketplace and put them into bare-bones policies with sky-high deductibles, dollar- and service-limits on coverage, and pre-existing condition discrimination. By trying to create a parallel health insurance market for the young and healthy, the Trump administration would make the ACA’s Marketplace look like a de facto high risk pool, as low-risk consumers are siphoned off into junk insurance markets.

The harm from these proposed changes would be even more extreme if Congress repeals the individual mandate, as young and healthy folks could get duped into enrolling into a junk plan that offers bare-bones coverage and minimal financial protection. Those who will be most immediately and severely harmed are middle-class Americans who do not qualify for financial help under the ACA, as they’ll be priced out of affordable coverage due to skyrocketing premiums.”

The tax bill is bad for your health

But even if Senate Republicans recognize the error of their ways and decide not to repeal the individual mandate, the tax reform bill itself still threatens the health care of every American. The fiscal impact—massively increasing the deficit to fund trickledown economics that haven’t worked—will require lawmakers to try to balance the budget down the line through spending cuts. Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and other health programs will be on the chopping board if tax reform passes.

The bottom line: The U.S. Senate’s tax bill is not only a boon to the rich; it is bad for our health. As part of the broader Trump agenda on health care, the tax reform bill would destabilize health insurance markets and put older adults and people with pre-existing conditions at risk. The Senate should go back to the drawing board and come up with some new ideas that haven’t already been rejected by their constituents.

Brendan Riley is a Policy Analyst at the North Carolina Justice Center’s Health Advocacy Project.


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Kimmel promotes ObamaCare as ’TrumpCare’ to get conservatives’ support

Late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel tried rebranding ObamaCare as TrumpCare on his show this week to see how President Trump’s supporters and other conservative opponents of the legislation would react. 

“Yesterday, I was looking at the White House website, Healthcare.gov specifically, and I have to admit the health-care plan there isn’t bad, it’s actually pretty good,” Kimmel said “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” referring to the website that allows Americans to sign up for ObamaCare. 

“So last night, I encouraged people, even liberals who don’t like Trump, to think about signing up for TrumpCare, at the very least, take a look at it,” he continued. 

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Kimmel went on to showcase praise he had received from ObamaCare opponents on social media. 

“If you care about health care, go to Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems win from coast to coast Falwell after Gillespie loss: ‘DC should annex’ Northern Virginia Dems see gains in Virginia’s House of Delegates MORE‘s website, Healthcare.gov, sign up. According to The Washington Post … the first week of TrumpCare has been a huge success, a record number of people have signed up, twice as many as ObamaCare,” he said. 

Kimmel has emerged as a major voice in the health-care debate this year, pointing to his own infant son, who was born with a congenital heart defect requiring extensive care, as an example of a health-care recipient who could lose coverage under Republican ObamaCare repeal and replace efforts.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) coined the “the Jimmy Kimmel test” in May when he pledged not to support a repeal proposal that would not shield patients with pre-existing conditions from a loss of coverage or high out-of-pocket costs.

The comedian hit Cassidy in September after the senator proposed legislation with Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCNN to air sexual harassment Town Hall featuring Gretchen Carlson, Anita Hill Trump wrestles with handling American enemy combatants Flake: Trump’s call for DOJ to probe Democrats ‘not normal’ MORE (R-S.C.), which Kimmel said did not meet Cassidy’s original standard. 

“On health care, Cassidy flunks his own ‘Jimmy Kimmel test,’ ” Kimmel said. 

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“Trumpcare Kills” Projected on SF Federal Building

From the Open-Publishing Calendar

From the Open-Publishing Newswire

Indybay Feature

Related Categories: San Francisco | Health, Housing, and Public Services

To protest the bill that will strip us of our health care and leave the most needy to die to profit the rich, I projected Trumpcare Kills on the Federal Building in San Francisco, along with messages urging everyone to take action through the phone banks of Indivisible and CaliforniaCavalry.org.

You can find more projections on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ResistanceSF/








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Jimmy Kimmel Heaps Praise on ‘Trumpcare’ – Which Is…

Jimmy Kimmel supports the health care plan that’s currently available at HealthCare.gov — let’s call it “Trumpcare” — and that has many of his regular detractors claiming the ABC host has finally seen the light.

Here’s the problem: It’s still Obamacare, which has not actually been repealed (yet) — yeah, dude’s just trolling you guys.

Still, the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” host is enjoying his newfound moment of bipartisan social media support, which began after Tuesday’s show. On Wednesday, Kimmel rolled a commercial for the “new” Trump health care plan.

Hey, whatever works to get families enrolled in something, right?

Watch the video above.

Oh, and check out Kimmel’s latest “Mean Tweets” here — they’re pretty good.

Read original story Jimmy Kimmel Heaps Praise on ‘Trumpcare’ – Which Is Still Just Unrepealed Obamacare (Video) At TheWrap


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Kimmel performs U-turn and urges Americans to sign up for Trumpcare

Jimmy Kimmel is being praised by Trump supporters for urging liberals to reach across the aisle and give Trumpcare a chance.

In the latest monologue on his late night show Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host called for viewers to sign up for the program here at healthcare.gov.

“I and many of my counterparts have taken issue with a great many things Donald Trump has done in his first year as president. But, I have to be honest, it hasn’t all been bad,” Kimmel conceded on Wednesday night.

“Yesterday I was looking at the White House website…and I have to admit the healthcare plan there is actually pretty good. So last night I encouraged people, even liberals who don’t like Trump, to think about signing up for Trumpcare, at least take a look at it.  And some of the people with whom I’m typically at odds on social media actually had some positive things to say.”

One such Trump fan tweeted: “Am I dreaming, or is Jimmy actually on Trump’s side for once?”

Another added: “Jimmy Kimmel has been pretty hard on the GOP and Trump but even Jimmy would like you to check out this administrations HealthCare.gove website. You can sign up until December 15th!”

Showing a PSA for Trumpcare, Kimmel concluded: “Help us get the word out, share that video on social media. Together we can make American healthcare great again.”

Kimmel reiterated that Americans should show Obama who’s boss and sign up for Trumpcare at www.healthcare.gov.


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Jimmy Kimmel Heaps Praise on ‘Trumpcare’ – Which Is Still Just Unrepealed Obamacare (Video)

Jimmy Kimmel supports the health care plan that’s currently available at HealthCare.gov — let’s call it “Trumpcare” — and that has many of his regular detractors claiming the ABC host has finally seen the light.

Here’s the problem: It’s still Obamacare, which has not actually been repealed (yet) — yeah, dude’s just trolling you guys.

Still, the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” host is enjoying his newfound moment of bipartisan social media support, which began after Tuesday’s show. On Wednesday, Kimmel rolled a commercial for the “new” Trump health care plan.

Hey, whatever works to get families enrolled in something, right?

Watch the video above.

Oh, and check out Kimmel’s latest “Mean Tweets” here — they’re pretty good.

Read original story Jimmy Kimmel Heaps Praise on ‘Trumpcare’ – Which Is Still Just Unrepealed Obamacare (Video) At TheWrap


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Trumpcare hurts Americans

During the campaign Donald Trump promised better, cheaper health care for all Americans. Every step he has taken flies in the face of that promise.

Republican bills to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act allowed insurance companies to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, to impose lifetime caps on coverage, and to sell junk insurance that did not cover essential services. The bills also destroyed Medicaid, changing it from a guaranteed coverage program for low income and elderly Americans to block grants with no certain funding. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that 30 million Americans would lose coverage and premiums would rise by as much as 60 percent.

Unable to pass those bills, President Trump chose sabotage. He has reduced the enrollment period, is taking the website down every Sunday for “maintenance,” and is defunding programs to assist Americans in choosing health insurance. This past week he took two more steps to undermine the ACA. He authorized selling of junk insurance driving the healthy people out of the marketplace and premiums up for those remaining. More devastating is his decision to stop paying the cost sharing provisions that assist lower income Americans struggling to pay deductibles and co-pays. Today, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department announced, that because of this last action it has approved premium increases averaging 30.6 percent for 2018 instead of the expected 7 percent.

Was Obamacare perfect? No! But Trumpcare will deprive health insurance to millions of Americans and drive up costs for millions more.

Helen M. Sheehy, Tyrone

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Wall Street is starting to worry about what Trumpcare is doing to hospitals

  • Analysts at Morgan Stanley say hospitals are already feeling the repercussions of uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act.
  • According to their analysis, there is a correlation between the percentage of uninsured Americans and bad debt at hospitals.
  • In Q3 2017, the percentage of uninsured Americans hit its highest rate since 2014.

In a note to clients out Monday morning, analysts at Morgan Stanley outlined what’s in store for hospitals as uncertainty over the Affordable Care Act changes our healthcare system at large.

That is to say — they’re considering what will happen as the ACA changes from Obamacare to Trumpcare.

What they have found is unsettling, but unsurprising. There is “a strong relationship between uninsurance rate and average bad debt as a percentage of revenue for our coverage,” according to the bank.

That is to say that as fewer people are uninsured, hospitals will start to see their finances come under pressure. This isn’t something to worry about in a few months or years, either. It’s already happening. This quarter, the percentage of uninsured people in the US climbed to 12.3%, its highest rate since 2014. Analysts attribute that to the destabilization of exchanges, shorter enrollment periods and rising premiums — all factors that have pushed people, especially young people, away from the ACA.

From Morgan Stanley:

“Challenging political and regulatory environment will likely impact bad debt / uncompensated care in our facilities coverage beyond 3Q17. Given the recent executive order by President Trump and subsequent decision to suspend CSR subsidies, we see near-term headwinds for hospitals through either low volume or increased bad debt (see here)…

As an analogue, we note that the improvement in the uninsured rate from ~17% in 2013 to ~10% in 2016 saw an average improvement in bad debt /uncompensated care as a percentage of revenue of ~250 bps in our coverage. Now that the uninsured rate has moved 200 bps in the opposite direction over the past 3 quarters, we expect earnings pressure from increasing bad debt to persist as we head into 2018.”

The bank notes that Lifepoint and Universal Health Services are in the most precarious positions of the companies in its coverage.

Ultimately, however, this is going to impact everyone, especially the hospitals that will have to start making difficult choices that are disruptive for patients. They may have to stop providing certain services, or even be forced to sell off assets, changing access for patients.

Last week, the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book survey of American business sectors had a warning about this kind of behaviour. It was really short, but its implications for what our healthcare system will look like over the next few years is massive.

Here it is [emphasis ours]:

“Reports from healthcare firms remain mixed. Employers continue to streamline operations in an uncertain environment, with one major employer shifting jobs from low-profit to high-profit areas.”

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Americans Are ‘Scared’ Or ‘Very Scared’ Of Trumpcare

This year, the scariest Halloween costumes in the United States could be corrupt government officials or polluted water — at least according to a new survey ranking the top fears of Americans.

Chapman University released its annual Survey of American Fears yesterday (Oct. 11), and fears about the government and the environment dominated the top 10.

As in 2015 and 2016, this year, corrupt government officials topped the list, with 75 percent of survey respondents reporting that they were either scared or very scared of corrupt officials in the government. [End of the World? Top Doomsday Fears]

But the No. 2 fear this year was one that was entirely new to the list: “Trumpcare.” Just over 55 percent of the people in the survey ranked this as something they were either scared or very scared of.

Coming in third and fourth were pollution of oceans, rivers and lakes; and pollution of drinking water, respectively — two fears that were new to the top 10, according to the survey.

Not having enough money in the future, high medical bills, U.S. involvement in a world war, climate change, North Korea’s use of weapons and air pollution rounded out the top 10. Fears of the U.S. being involved in a world war and North Korea using weapons were new to the list, the researchers said.

“The 2017 survey data shows us that while some of the top fears have remained, there has been a pronounced shift to environmental fears,” lead researcher Christopher Bader, a professor of sociology at Chapman University in California, said in a statement. Bader added that many of the top fears mirror top media stories, such as news about changes to environmental policies and health care.

Fear of heights ranked 38th on the survey, with 28 percent of respondents reporting being scared or very scared of it; fear of sharks came in at No. 41 (25 percent); and fear of insects and spiders came in at No. 50 (20 percent). Other fears that around 1 in 5 Americans said were scary or very scary included dying, public speaking, illegal immigration and racial or hate crimes.

And despite a preponderance of movies and TV shows with scary clowns and roving zombies, those two fears ranked nearly last on the list, with clowns coming in at No. 76 (7 percent) and zombies at No. 78 (5 percent).

Chapman University has conducted its annual fear survey since 2014. This year, the researchers asked about 1,200 adults from across the United States to rank their level of fear of 80 different topics, ranging from the government and the environment, to spiders and ghosts.

The full list can be found here.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Middle Income 50-Somethings Will Be Big Losers In Trumpcare

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (L), Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta (3rd R) and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin (2nd R) look on during an event in the Roosevelt Room of the White House October 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump signed the executive order to loosen restrictions on Affordable Care Act “to promote healthcare choice and competition.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Trump’s multi-pronged administrative attack on the Affordable Care Act would sharply increase premiums for middle-aged people who purchase insurance in the individual market, likely driving many to drop coverage.

Most would not feel the effects until 2019, though some will face sharply higher premiums in 2018—rate hikes they’ll see when the open enrollment season begins next month.

The President announced several changes to the ACA this week. They are complicated and address different parts of the 2010 law. But the overall effect will be that millions of older, sicker Americans will be priced out of comprehensive coverage while many younger, healthier people may get access to new low-cost, low-benefit policies. Those who are aged 50-64, just before they are eligible for Medicare, could be among the biggest losers.

Trump’s first step was to order federal agencies to open the door to a broad expansion of those low-cost, low benefit policies. They’d be sold through so-called association health plans, loose groups of businesses that join together to buy insurance.

Because Trump would largely exempt them from the ACA’s coverage requirements, they could sell policies that exclude hospital care, drug costs, or pre-existing conditions. Such policies would be unattractive to older buyers, who would prefer to stick with traditional ACA exchange coverage. But because younger consumers would likely gravitate to the cheap policies, exchange plans—left with an older and sicker risk pool– would become increasingly expensive.

Despite his high-profile signing of yesterday’s executive order, Trump can’t simply establish these plans with the wave of a pen. The changes will require complicated new regulations, a process that could take many months. And it will almost certainly generate lawsuits.  Even if they stand up in court, these new rules are not likely to kick in before 2019.

The more far-reaching  was leaked late on Thursday night. The Administration said it will immediately stop paying $7 billion in cost-sharing subsidies to insurance companies. These government subsidies (which are different from the ACA’s premium subsidies) reduce out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles for low- and moderate-income buyers of individual insurance. Without the subsidy, insurers must provide the discounts on their own—a step that will cause them to withdraw from the individual market or raise their rates. The ACA explicitly allows insurers to stop selling exchange coverage if the cost-sharing subsidies are eliminated.

Because Trump has been threatening to kill that government funding for months, some carriers built their added costs in to their rate applications for 2018. Those higher rates will hit middle-income buyers hardest, since their income is too high to receive premium assistance. A single individual loses premium support under the ACA once her income hits about $48,000.

Insurance companies have warned that Trump’s move will destabilize the non-group insurance market. It comes on top of other White House moves to wreck that market including efforts to shrink the enrollment period, slash funding for marketing of exchange-based insurance, and cut support for local consumer advisers.  All these steps are likely to reduce enrollment, especially by younger people who are less motivated to buy coverage.

All of Trump’s moves will have the same effect: Buyers are more likely to be older and sicker. And as they increasingly dominate the risk pool, their insurance premiums will rise, making insurance les and less affordable.

Trump wants to create separate insurance markets for healthy consumers and for those with chronic conditions—who are often 50 or older. Unlike the failed bills that aimed to replace the ACA earlier this year, these administrative changes won’t allow Trump to directly raise premiums on 50-somethings. But they’d let him do so indirectly, and he seems to be doing everything he can to reach that goal.

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