Trumpcare Should Be Called Trumpscare

Trumpcare Should Be Called Trumpscare December 13, 2016

This old experiment in facial expressions also captures the fear Trumpcare is generating in people facing the loss of their Obamacare health coverage.

If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.

If that’s true, Trumpcare is set to snatch everything away from millions of Americans.

More than 20 million Americans have gained insurance thanks to the Obamacare. Many of those had been denied health insurance due to pre-existing conditions. Even more simply couldn’t afford health insurance because they didn’t earn enough to afford it, yet earned too much to qualify for Medicaid.

The Medicaid rules also used to exclude people without children. I know because that particular rule kept me from the California version of Medicaid, Medi-Cal, for years.

Initially, my application for Med-Cal disability coverage was denied. It’s provided regardless of parental status. But I won my appeal based on the unusually large number of severe, chronic health conditions I suffer from. And that was before I developed my autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis, plus the whole Legionaires’ disease, six-week coma, and multiple strokes thing.

In short, physically I’m a mess.

Millions of others gained access to Medicaid coverage because of the expansion of Medicaid eligibility to the working poor. “Thanks” to a Supreme Court ruling, the states were given the option of rejecting the Medicaid expansion, despite the fact that it was  entirely subsidized by the government in the beginning (and overwhelmingly in the future).

A few Republican governors gave in and permitted the Medicaid expansion in their states, despite the politically motivated GOP opposition to the Medicaid expansion. As you may have guessed, solid-blue California dived in head first.

Our termed-out governor Jerry Brown has vowed to fight the efforts of the Trump administration wherever he can. But millions of Californians are nervously watching awaiting the fate of their healthcare…and with it their health. At the very least, premium subsidies, in this huge and expensive state, will almost certainly be thrown under the bus. And it’s uncertain whether the Trumpcare will permit those currently receiving Medicaid under the expansion to retain their coverage.

The Golden State is far from alone in its looming anxiety at the prospect of Trumpcare next year.

Let’s call it Trumpscare.

Of those who could never afford health insurance before, many were subsequently diagnosed with health conditions that would’ve prevented them from obtaining insurance in the pre-Obamacare days. Risk pools would be useless to such people because they usually offer expensive coverage that would be well beyond the means of the working poor and the lower middle class.

For people like Barbara Phillips, whose $10,000 a year income as a caregiver ironically didn’t earn enough to pay for her own healthcare, the psoriasis she was diagnosed with after enrolling in Medi-Cal would deny her insurance even if she could afford it.

You can take Donald Trump’s assertions that he wants to continue to outlaw pre-existing condition exclusions with a Trump Tower’s worth of salt. Without an insurance mandate, that would blow up the entire insurance system.

Of course, the Barbara Phillips of America can always hope they get so sick enough due to lack of regular healthcare that they are forced to quit work. At least then they would qualify for Medicaid.

Assuming they have dependents.

And speaking of dependency, is that really what the Republicans want force people into? I know that The Donald has inspired the GOP to backtrack on much of what was once conservative orthodoxy. But really, isn’t giving people no choice but to rely on the government for support a bridge too far even for craven reformed #NeverTrumpers?

Mitt Romney and Donald Trump.
YouTube screenshot of Romney prostrating himself before The Donald. You can see where that got him.

Mitt Romney, I’m looking at you.

For me,  the worry is that–if the Republican congressional majority gets their way and succeeds in converting Medicaid into block grants–Medi-Cal will be so starved of funds that the program will be forced to tighten eligibility to the extent that I would no longer qualify.

A further concern is that co-pays and other fees such as premiums will be raised to unaffordable levels for many Medicaid recipients. Fees also tend to discourage enrollment, which would put a twinkle in the eye of Paul Ryan.

Personally, I reject the formulation that you don’t have anything if you don’t have your health. How could I not?

But for millions of Americans, the way Trumpcare repeals and replaces Obamacare will spell the difference between retaining their current healthcare and possessing none. That means they won’t have their health, either.

According that old saw, thanks to a Trumpcare, they’ll have nothing at all.

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