Trump supporters in the heartland fear being left behind by GOP health plan
The Guardian ^ | March 12, 2017 | Jessica Glenza
Janice Phelps, a 60-year-old disabled factory worker in Evansville, Indiana, knows how expensive healthcare is. Each month, shots for her severe asthma cost $3,000. Quarterly injections for knee pain cost $3,200.
Medication for depression costs $900. She has had seven back surgeries, two shoulder surgeries, and two knee surgeries since 1985. The largest public health programs in America – Medicaid and Medicare, which aid the poor and the elderly – paid for nearly all of it.
Yet, those programs are now threatened by the men she voted for: Donald Trump and former Indiana governor Mike Pence.
“I’m all in favor of repealing it,” she said about Republicans’ push to do away with the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. But, she said when you talk about cutting Medicaid: “I don’t agree with that at all.”
Dramatic changes to Medicaid – the scheme to help poorer Americans get healthcare – are just part of the reforms in a Republican bill leaders are trying to force through Congress at lightning speed. However, since it was introduced last Monday, the American Health Care Act has met opposition from the left, significant sections of the Republican party, and a slate of doctor, hospital and patient associations. It’s been called a “legislative orphan appealing to no one”.
Though Phelps said she would support Trump even if it passed, she is upset by the idea of Medicaid cuts.
“For Medicaid to say, ‘We’re going to spend X amount of dollars on you, and that’s all we’re going to spend’ – we’re supposed to just roll over and die because we can’t pay it ourselves?” she said.
“X-rays, and MRIs, and CT scans, surgeries and stuff – we have no control over how much that is ... I would not be able to pay that out of my pocket, and I have to pay that to live ... to put a cap on it is uncalled for.”
Anxiety and ambivalence about health are common in this part of Trump-country. The city of Evansville is the seat of rural Vanderburgh in deep red Indiana. It lies at a bend in the Ohio river, just north of Henderson, Kentucky.
This is Pence’s home state. When he was governor, he took political advantage of Obamacare and used federal funds it made available to provide healthcare for half a million of the poorest people in his state.
Of course, while helping Trump win the White House, Pence was an implacable opponent of the healthcare law. By February this year, he was whipping up a crowd of conservatives, telling them “Obamacare must go”. He revived that line while pushing for the Republican bill in Louisville, Kentucky, this weekend.
“In a word, we’re going to make the best healthcare system in the world even better,” Pence said.
Yet here, in a rural corner of Indiana where Trump won 40,000 votes to comfortably beat Hillary Clinton by 10,000, many low-income people are covered by a program Pence put in place only two years ago and which Republican proposals would severely cut.
Pence’s program, called HIP 2.0, is part of Medicaid. It is funded by Obamacare, the law that Pence lobbies against. Including Medicaid, more than one in three people use government health coverage in Indiana.
Vanderburgh is one of only two Indiana counties where more than 10,000 people are on HIP 2.0 and that voted for Trump. Obamacare expanded Medicaid coverage to single adults through state programs such as HIP 2.0, a change that insured 500,000 new people statewide, and 14.4 million people nationally. All told, Medicaid programs cover 1.4 million people in Indiana and 73 million Americans.
Republican proposals would upend that system. First, funding for programs such as HIP 2.0 would start to dissipate by 2020. At that point, the federal government would stop paying for anyone who dropped off HIP 2.0 rolls. Republicans would also cut traditional Medicaid by ending some guaranteed benefits, leaving states such as Indiana with a tab they can scarcely afford – and residents facing high anxiety.
(Excerpt) Read more at msn.com ...
This is what we are up against. Do you think The Guardian, NYT, or WaPo are going to balance stories like this out by writing stories of people negatively affected by Obamacare? Nope. The same will hold true for the network coverage on every channel except Fox News and OANN (I guess cause I don't get it).
Look at the comments' section to the article. It's full of liberals saying people who voted for Trump are stupid, they got conned, that he's out to enrich the wealthy and insurance companies, etc. It's all the usual talking points - talking points which they will descend upon the public with if/when Ryancare goes amiss. If you read those comments, though, Obamacare is perfect to those people. Again, they only read/view the leftwing media, and they are much smarter than you the Trump voter (I know because they say so), so they will never see the other side of the coin of the people negatively affected by Obamacare because the media doesn't show it.
Note: While saying the media doesn't show it, the Guardian actually did in this article without acknowledging it and briefly moving on, but I caught it. See this:
Cindy Rosser, a 46-year-old mother of five and grandmother of one, manages two dry cleaning locations and uses HIP 2.0 for insurance. After being laid off in 2015 (she was told the company could not afford workers’ health costs), she discovered a pre-cancer in her esophagus and her 11-year-old adopted son was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
That sounds to me like she was let go because of the cost of Obamacare.
Anyway, I firmly believe that Obamacare is not as popular as those in the leftwing bubble would have us believe. The Tea Party arose with a goal of repealing Obamacare, and the Republicans have been given the House, Senate, and Presidency in part in order to repeal it - although I do believe they expect a replacement.
We have a situation where some of the working class voters that Trump brought into the fold rely on Medicaid or Obamacare. For those that want a flat repeal, I understand the purely conservative perspective, but from a political perspective - it's suicide. If you repeal and millions lose insurance sans an affordable alternative, it will spell doom for 2018 and 2020. The media will run story after story of people losing their coverage, the Democrats will promise to give it back and then some, and off they go. It would be a gift for a party in turmoil that still can't understand why it lost the last election.
On the other hand, we have a good deal of the base that put Donald Trump in office who are solid conservatives. Now people vary of course, but there are those who flat out want it repealed. Period. Nothing else. Trump is not going to do that, and he made it clear his entire campaign that he wouldn't. As I said above, I believe that to be political suicide. There are others who want it replaced with a free market system but not paying for healthcare for those who can't afford it after that. I'm a little more liberal on this issue. I think they need to develop the best free market, affordable system possible, but I do think if someone is too sick or unable to afford care, I support providing care for them. Trump also said this when campaigning. He said he would repeal and replace and that he wouldn't let people "die in the street" if they couldn't afford care.
It's so important that the Republicans slow down and do this right Not only are millions of lives at stake but so is the political future of the party. They are caught between a good deal of the base (the conservatives) who Trump needs as he really has no one else to fight for him and those who voted for him but are working class or poor and are trusting him to build up the economy and provide a better healthcare alternative but currently are getting some coverage from Obamacare (some of these folks might make up the base that went to rallies and fought for Trump too).
There are two ways they can go about this in my opinion:
1. Let Obamacare continue. Do it by either doing nothing or bringing a bill forward like Rand's that probably won't make it. Obamacare continues. It will take it really collapsing fully for people like those in the comments' section of the article to want it replaced.
A couple downsides to this:
A) Those who are struggling with Obamacare and voted in the Republicans to replace might not vote Republican again out of frustration, although many in the conservative base would understand the tactic. If they bring Rand's bill forward, they can say that the Democrats were an impediment. Like I said, it could backfire with those who voted for Trump to get Obacamare repealed. They might feel betrayed and not vote.
B) If people don't vote out of anger and/or if the Democrats do well in 2018 and regain the majority, then we may have lost our one shot to repeal/replace Obamacare, and that will be very bad for Trump in 2020.
2. Take their time, don't rush it, and really work to come up with the best bill possible utilizing the free market as best as possible so people get the best plans with the lowest costs. However, I think there will have to be some compromise involved to ensure that people who can't afford care can get it. It just has to be done right - otherwise the Republicans will own this and it will be an albatross around their necks the Democrats can use in future elections. (It's actually frustrating to me that they had 7 years. They should have perfected a plan by now.) I'll end with this Trump quote with reference to this second point:
We’re going to get private insurance companies to take care of a lot of the people that can afford it. That’s going to take a tremendous burden off, and they’re going to be able to have plans that are great plans,” Trump said.
“And it’s going to be much less expensive,” he continued. “And you will be able to actually have something to say about who your doctor is and your plan.”
“So — and we’re going to have — you know, we have to cover people that can’t afford it. And that’s what I’m talking about. And we’ll probably have block grants of Medicaid back into the states. And we’ll do things — because there are people that can’t afford it. And nobody is going to be dying on the streets with a President Trump,” he promised.