Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Which Regulations Would You Drop?

It is a mantra of the Republican Party that we (meaning their businessmen) are too bogged down in regulations these days, with the horrible consequences that  those same business owners are prevented from doing whatever they want to become as rich as they want and do it by trampling over all the rest of us.

They want to fix this.

Let's start with the ACA, the Affordable Care Act. They are loudly and proudly trumpeting their intent to drop all kinds of pesky regulations which have made it "inconvenient" a.k.a. profit cutting for the insurance companies. So which ones do they want to get rid of?

How about the law allowing parents to keep children on their policies until age 26, a time of life when those newly adult children are just establishing themselves, getting their first, generally low paying jobs, or working their way through higher education, increasing their debt load, leaving them even less able to kick out funding for health insurance?

How about having to accept people on their insurance rolls who have pre-existing conditions? We're talking about maybe cancer, diabetes, addiction issues, just to name a few. Sure, you scratch your head, thinking those folks are really dragging the system down, increasing costs, so maybe the companies have a point. Did you realize that to insurance companies, the simple fact of being female is a pre-existing condition? We could get pregnant or something, you know. Especially if somebody high up in the company believes religiously that it is our sole destiny in the world to breed unrestrainedly, denying coverage for family planning of any sort, or treating complications of pregnancy that could kill us.

I still recall many years ago filling out a questionaire for Blue Cross to see if I "qualified" to be insured. A stern reminder at the beginning reminded us that any untruthful or inaccurate answer would result in denial or immediate stopping of coverage. It asked questions like did we ever get headaches? Had a cold? Well, who hasn't? I answered truthfully. I also got denied coverage. Hey look, folks: LIFE is a pre-existing condition!

How about the lifetime cap on coverage? Say you get in a nasty car wreck, or need cancer treatment? Not only are you over-budget by the time your treatment has concluded, your lifetime cap means no more coverage... for anything! Not a broken arm, not a life-saving emergency operation, not getting a chronic condition followed. Nothing! If you are already rich, no biggie. The rest of us are looking at homelessness and early, painful death.

How about the ACA restriction on the percentage of your premiums which can be pulled off the top for company profits? Thanks to Senator Al Franken, that's been capped at 15%. Call it overhead, Or profit. Or  just plain greed. For contrast, Medicare operates well with a 3% overhead, meaning 97% of what is paid in goes to patient care. The 3% goes to administrative costs, and nobody but an occasional crook gets rich.

Even if/when the insurance premiums are what passes for reasonable and people get insurance, many of us still can't afford it. The ACA couples with Medicaid to assist in getting those premiums paid. And we all know the money has to go in first.  The first question asked before any medical treatment is even possible is, "Show us your insurance card." The Republican agenda is to replace premium assistance with tax benefits. Those, of course, come at the end of your year, plus a few months, so where do you get the funds to meet those up-front bills that you have to wait for your rebate for? What's your trade-off: food? housing? education? childcare, however basic? shoes that fit rapidly growing children? (Remember, no more limits on number of pregnancies!) Or do you simply forgo healthcare altogether? Turn back the medical clock to 1800 but without the country doctor making house calls. And you with no chicken to pay him with.

Sounds harsh, doesn't it? But the Republicans will put on their fake sympathetic faces and shrug it all off as your own fault. The core - the filthy rotten core - of their basic philosophy is that we should all, individually, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. Nevermind any of that "it takes a village" nonsense. Nevermind that you may have never gotten a boot in you life, not to mention one with straps to be pulled. In their philosophy, the poor are simply undeserving. The rich are the only ones who count, the only ones worthy. They don't take into consideration that many of the rich inherit their wealth, and the only work they've done to earn it is to get pushed through the birth canal.

Since the poor are so undeserving, they can just work harder for the necessities of life. Education is a luxury, an undesirable one because an educated workforce would demand things like decent pay, safety regulations, clean air to breathe and clean water to drink, a planet whose agriculture isn't being rapidly destroyed by ever-increasing instability in climate and decimation in pollinators, and a reasonable chance of seeing old age. Why should anybody care if the poor die young? Abundant early deaths mean they can get rid of that insurance program - what they denigrate as an entitlement program - called Social Security.Lack of birth control ensures a constant new crop of desperate workers coming up the ranks to fit into the system of supporting the rich, because, you know, they're so worthy!

The rest of us, not so much.

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