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General News You Want to Talk About

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121default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Thu Jul 27, 2017 9:03 pm

Poppy

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Media is saying that within one hour from now (so around 10:00 pm PT), it will be known whether the Senate was able to pass the "skinny repeal" bill.  I have a bad feeling.

Until then, I just want to say how horrified I am, how saddened and angry I am, that Trump unilaterally announced that transgender individuals who are in the military will no longer be able to serve.  It is an absolute injustice that the men and women who have risked their lives and sacrificed so much for their country should be treated so horribly, so carelessly. 

CNN wrote:
US Joint Chiefs blindsided by Trump's transgender ban

July 27, 2017

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, including chairman General Joseph Dunford, were not aware President Donald Trump planned to tweet a ban on transgender service members, three US defense officials told CNN -- the latest indication that top military leaders across all four service branches were blindsided by the President's announcement.

For now, Dunford has informed service members that there will be "no modifications to the current policy until the President's direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidelines."

"In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect," Dunford wrote in a memo to the military that was obtained by CNN. "As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions."

[. . .]


Trump announced Wednesday that transgender individuals would no longer be allowed to enlist or serve in the military.


"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," Trump said in a series of tweets. "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."


His tweets came less than a month into the six-month delay set by Defense Secretary James Mattis to review the US military's policy on transgender service members.

[. . . ]

[Senator John McCain stated:] "I know what Mattis said, that he wanted to complete the study, and he was surprised," added McCain, who chairs the armed services committee.

But while Trump's tweet states that he consulted with his generals and military experts ahead of making the announcement, US defense officials have indicated that many of the top brass were caught off guard by the policy change.

One of the heads of the military branches was informed by a staffer of the President's tweets on transgender policy and had no idea it was coming, an official said.

Adding to the confusion is that Trump's decision came without a plan in place to implement it.

[. . .  ]


A major issue now is whether currently serving members will be discharged and whether they will receive an honorable discharge so they can continue to receive whatever medical and retiree benefits they are entitled to based on their years of service, a defense official said.

122default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:25 pm

Poppy

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I am amazed.  The Republican Senators failed to pass their "skinny" repeal bill.   Three Republican Senators voted "no"--they had the courage to stand up against their own Republican Party to do what is the right thing to do for the American people.  Thank you, John McCain, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski--for taking your role as the representatives of your constituents to heart, and not blindly representing your party, but instead representing the needs of, and listening to the voices of, the people of your states. heart heart heart

123default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:03 pm

Poppy

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I guess the fight for protecting the Affordable Care Act ("ACA," also known as "Obamacare") is not over.

First, Trump is threatening to sabotage the ACA by refusing to do steps that are necessary in order for the ACA to succeed. 

New York Times wrote:
[Opinion by the Editorial Board]

Why Obamacare Is Still in Peril

July 28, 2017

Though one threat has been put off, the A.C.A. is far from safe. President Trump and his health and human services secretary, Tom Price, have made it their mission to undermine the law. On Friday, the president again threatened to let Obamacare “implode” in order to make a deal. And Mr. Price, who worked closely with his former colleagues in Congress to devise repeal proposals, has been spreading lies about the law and making changes that would reduce benefits and lead to fewer people signing up for coverage.


3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017

It would be foolish to underestimate the administration, which has the power to do substantial damage. The administration could stop making subsidy payments to insurance companies authorized by the A.C.A. to help reduce deductibles for lower-income people. And it could stop enforcing the penalty for people who do not buy insurance, which would result in fewer young and healthy people signing up, leading insurers to stop offering policies in some parts of the country.



As evidence that the Trump administration will do all that they can to sabotage the ACA, Trump tweeted today:

If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!


— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2017

In other words, he is threatening to stop paying subsidies to the insurance companies that help make health care affordable to persons with low incomes.

Slate wrote:
Trump Lashes Out, Threatens to Cut Health Care Subsidies for Poor and Lawmakers

July 29, 2017

An evidently frustrated President Donald Trump went on another signature tweetstorm Saturday, threatening to end federal subsidies for health insurance that benefits both the poorest Americans and members of Congress.

If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!


— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2017

A move of this nature would inject chaos into the insurance markets
considering that so many low-income (and even moderate-income) people depend on the subsidies to be able to afford health care.

[. . . ]

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused the president of “playing politics with people’s lives and health care.”


Secondly, it looks like the ACA is threatened because the Republican Senate is focusing on a new health care bill.

Politico wrote:
As Trump steams, Senate Republicans consider new repeal effort

July 29, 2017

Senate Republicans’ party-line attempts to repeal Obamacare aren’t dead just yet — at least not if President Donald Trump has anything to say about it.

Trump, increasingly impatient with the long-stalled repeal effort, met with three Senate Republicans about a new plan to roll back the health care law on Friday, signaling some lawmakers — as well as the president — are not ready to ditch their seven-year campaign promise.

The group is trying to write legislation that could get 50 Republican votes, according to multiple administration and Capitol Hill sources. The proposal from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) would block grant federal health care funding to the states and keep much of Obamacare’s tax regime. White House officials also met with House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) to brainstorm how to make the idea palatable to conservatives, according to two sources familiar with the meeting.

[. . . ]

In theory, the Senate could bring back up their party line budget “reconciliation” effort to gut Obamacare as soon as next week. Graham’s bill has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office and did not receive a test vote this week. It currently has a small group of supporters and will likely need major work to pass the Senate, like language defunding Planned Parenthood which would likely alienate a pair of moderate senators.

[. . . ]

“We’re going to regroup and stay focused,” Meadows said Friday. “I’m still optimistic that we will have another motion to proceed, and ultimately put something on the president’s desk.”

But the GOP would have to take another painful procedural vote to open debate, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is expected to remain in Arizona for cancer treatment until the end of the August recess.

[. . . ]

Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska would have to reverse course on opening debate on the bill for things to move forward in August without McCain.

I'm just hoping that these two Republican women will stand their ground and follow their conscience.  But I just don't know.

So for now, it's wait and see what the Republican Senate does next.  But people need to be ready to fight back by making their voices heard if the Republican Senate makes another effort to pass another repeal and replace bill.

124default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Sun Aug 06, 2017 7:06 pm

Poppy

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So the Senate went on their recess, and they will not return until after Labor Day (September 4, 2017).  I haven't heard any more news about Senator Lindsey Graham's health care proposal, so hopefully that is not proceeding.  I have heard on the news, discussions about the possibility of bipartisan (shocking!) efforts in the House of Representatives to pass a bill to stabilize the insurance markets by making sure federal subsidies are paid to insurance companies (to help low-income persons under the Affordable Care Act).  Cross fingers!  Nothing will happen until the August recess is over.

125default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Wed Aug 16, 2017 12:56 am

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I've been busy dealing with my parent's health care issues, but watching on the TV over the weekend, seeing all those neo-Nazi's and white supremacists with their torches, I have to say it struck fear and disgust in my heart as a person of color.  I can only imagine how it felt to people in other communities, especially the African-American community, the Jewish-American community, and LGBTQ community.  Then to see the white supremacists and neo-Nazis attacking people with weapons, and that man using his car to mow down people and hearing of the death of Heather Heyer, it just horrified and saddened me deeply. 

To watch Trump ranting and raving today, defending the fascists and white supremacists, it just made me so sad.  Trump already has been waging a war against immigrants and people of the Muslim faith.  But with this display today of how Trump really feels about the racists of our country, who he claims merely are trying to preserve their "culture and heritage" (translation: preserve a time in American history when white supremacy and oppression of everyone else was widely accepted as a right).   Is our country going to be ok.  Are people who live in the U.S.  going to be safe, are they going to be ok?

126default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:08 am

*Jeremy*

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It's indeed an awful story. I'm sorry you have to see that in your country.

127default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Sat Aug 19, 2017 12:12 am

Poppy

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Thank you, Jeremy.

128default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Thu Sep 07, 2017 2:02 am

Poppy

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I am so sad and horrified to hear about the destruction left by Hurricane Irma.  I am not a religious person, but my thoughts are with the people of Barbuda, Antigua, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Bahamas, Turks, Caicos, Cuba, the Leeward Islands, and Florida.

I hope our friend who runs dcriss-archive remains safe.

129default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:51 am

*Jeremy*

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Sad events, indeed. 

In this part of Europe, we're not used to that kind of problem and people complain when a grey cloud hides the sun...

130default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:48 am

Poppy

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So the Republicans in Congress are attempting to hammer through a new bill (sponsored by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC)) that will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).   If they try to repeal the ACA after September 30, 2017, they will need 60 votes.  Thus they are pushing hard for passage before September 30, using the budget reconciliation process, which requires 51 votes. 

There are fears among health care experts and concerned citizens that this new Republican bill actually has a good chance of passing!!

Experts in health care are are predicting this bill is worse than previous Republican-backed repeal-and-replace bills!! 

And because the number of votes needed to pass any further repeal and replace bills will go up (to 60 votes needed) after September 30 (instead of the 51 votes required to pass a repeal bill before September 30), it thus will be harder for Republicans to attain passage of a repeal bill after September 30.  This realization has resulted in  "moderate" Republican Senators who opposed previous Republican repeal-and-replace bills to now support the Graham-Cassidy bill. 

Republicans are more desperate to pass ANY  repeal bill.   Thus,  even some "moderate" Republicans now are willing to support hurtful provisions in this bill that they previously opposed in earlier repeal-and-replace bills!  They are willing to harm their own constituents in their own states in order to score a "victory" of passing major legislation, and of achieving a repeal of the ACA!!

Passage of this bill is a real possibility and thus is a real threat to the healthcare of millions of Americans!!  

Please call your Senators and House of Representatives, especially if they are Republican and tell them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal and replace bill!



Forbes wrote:
The Graham-Cassidy Bill: A Last-Ditch GOP Effort To Deprive Millions Of Health Care

September 18, 2017


A premature baby may well reach the life-time cap if ACA is repealed, and be uninsurable due to "pre-existing conditions" or birth defects. -  Shutterstock

Out-and-out repeal now will lead to an estimated 32 million people losing coveragelikely more, [size=13]since this bill is more draconian than its failed predecessor, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).  

[. . . ]

. . . This backdoor attempt at repeal includes the following:

First, the bill ends current protections on discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.

[/size][. . . ]

Next, the current prohibition against lifetime limits on benefits would be lost. This would be particularly devastating to premature babies, those with disabilities, the rare-disease community and cancer patients. See the “Little Lobbyists” to get a glimpse of the impact.

Another “gotcha” is that insurers would no longer have to provide “essential services.” These currently include: 

  • Emergency services
  • Hospitalization (as for operations and overnight stays)
  • Pregnancy, maternity and newborn care (both before and after birth)
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment (this includes counseling and psychotherapy)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills)
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
  • Birth control coverage


[. . . ]

Medicaid would be cut, particularly hurting poor children, the elderly and people with disabilities. Medicaid expansion will end. This has helped provide care to more low-income adults than were previously eligible; the subsidized care for moderate-income families will disappear entirely under this proposal.

. . . Also, rural hospitals, which receive more of their income from the ACA and Medicaid, will be disproportionately hurt.

Shifting Medicaid expansion money would especially hit New York, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Florida and Virginia, with funding cuts of 50% or more.

NEW: Want to see how Graham-Cassidy ACA repeal transfers money around & impacts your state by 2026?
After that zeroes every state out. pic.twitter.com/NB5Kxqhb0j
— Andy Slavitt (@ASlavitt) September 13, 2017

[. . . ]

This current proposal is proceeding without a complete, updated CBO analysis.  The Graham-Cassidy bill is receiving increasing opposition from a number of health groups:  the American College of Physicians, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Osteopathic Association, the American Psychiatric Association, Planned Parenthood, American's Essential Hospitals and AARP.

One might think that such widespread opposition among groups that actually care for patients would give politicians pause. I know how much it will hurt my patients — many would become bankrupt or die without the ACA.

But the congressmen's bill repealing the Affordable Care Act is not about providing good care for their constituents. Nor is it about being fiscally responsible, with the estimated cost up to $350 billion in the next decade. It’s all about undoing good that the Obama administration achieved, and cutting taxes for the wealthy.

Brad Woodhouse, director of the Protect Our Care Campaign, summed up the GOP’s current strategy: “Given Republicans will have to ram this partisan repeal bill through the Senate in the next two weeks in order to meet this Sept. 30 deadline, there will be no time for a regular process for the public to fully understand the impacts on their health care — with no time for adequate hearings, consultations with experts, constituent input and amendments. … Republicans in the Senate are resorting back to a secret, partisan process to force through health care repeal out of public view."

The public should demand that their representatives tell them how this bill would impact them,
and allow open debate and consideration, rather than railroad this destructive bill through. As I’ve urged before, call your senators urgently, especially if they are Republican, and tell them how important health insurance is to you. Making legitimate improvements to the program is appropriate, but taking an axe to it is not.

You can find your representative’s number here or by calling the Capitol's switchboard at 202-224-3121. For future reference, or to complain about their vote, here's Senate contact info.
Link to Forbes article:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2017/09/18/graham-cassidy-bill-the-last-ditch-gop-effort-to-deprive-millions-of-healthcare/#3e9e440b3b92



For contact info of your Senators, go here:  https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

To find out who is your House of Representative, go here:  https://www.house.gov/representatives/



Please call your Senator and Representative NOW!  Tell them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy health care bill!  To summarize, these are the horrible effects if this Republican bill passes:


 

  • It will cut Medicaid for seniors, people with disabilities, and kids -- and it will end Medicaid expansion coverage for millions of low-income Americans.
  • It will get rid of coverage for pre-existing conditions.
  • It will slash funding for Planned Parenthood.
  • It will raise individual market premiums.
  • It will eliminate ACA health funding by 2027.
  • It will take health care away from millions.

 


Indivisible's Trumpcare Toolkit will connect you by phone, with some ('moderate") Republican Senators, whose votes are key.  If you live in these states, please call these Senators NOW and tell them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace healthcare bill!   https://trumpcaretoolkit.org/


 
John McCain (AZ)  (202) 224-2235
Jeff Flake (Arizona) 202-224-4521
Dean Heller (Nev.)  202-224-6244
Rob Portman (Ohio)  (202) 224-3353
Bill Cassidy (La.)  (202) 224-5824
John Kennedy (LA)  (202) 224-4623
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)  (202) 224-6665
Dan Sullivan (Alaska)  (202) 224-3004
Shelley Moore Capito (WV) 
202-224-6472
Susan Collins (Maine)  (202) 224-2523
Bob Corker (TN)  (202) 224-3344
Lamar Alexander (TN)  (202) 224-4944
Cory Gardner (CO)  (202) 224-5941
Richard Shelby (AL)  (202) 224-5744
Luther Stranger (AL)  (202) 224-4124
Pat Toomey (PA)  (202) 224-4254
Ron Johnson (WI)  (202) 224-5323
Jerry Moran (Kansas)  (202) 224-6521
Mike Rounds (SD)  (202) 224-5842
John Hoeven (SD)   (202) 224-2551
Joni Ernst (IA)  (202) 224-3254
Thom Tillis (NC)   (202) 224-6342
Tom Cotton (AR)  (202) 224-2353



Last edited by Poppy on Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:43 pm; edited 3 times in total

131default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:22 am

*Jeremy*

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Speaking of American politics, I've recently read that most American people only have 10 off days a year. Is that true ?

132default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:07 am

Poppy

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Sorry, Jeremy, I'm not sure what the latest research says about vacation time. 



A couple more articles about the dangerous Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace "healthcare bill":

The Washington Post wrote:
New health-care plan stumbles under opposition from governors


Senate Republicans are trying to revive the momentum to overhaul the Affordable Care Act with the Graham-Cassidy proposal. Here's a rundown of the plan, and the rush to pass it. (Video: Jenny Starrs/Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

September 19, 2017

Senate Republicans and the White House pressed ahead Tuesday with their suddenly resurgent effort to undo the Affordable Care, even as their attempt was dealt a setback when a bipartisan group of [10] governors came out against their proposal.

[. . .]

“We ask you not to consider the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson amendment and renew support for bipartisan efforts to make health care more available and affordable for all Americans,” the governors said in their letter.

[. . .]

The current bill would give states control over billions in federal health-care spending and enact deep cuts to Medicaid. The Medicaid cuts are a major source of concern to the governors, both in terms of imposing a per capita cap on what states would receive as well as putting restrictions on how they could spend any federal aid on their expanded Medicaid populations.

The fact that the bill also would bar states from taxing health-care providers to fund their Medicaid programs posed a problem for several governors, as well.

[. . .]
Given the complex nature of the Graham-Cassidy proposal, it is difficult for both state officials and health-care analysts to predict exactly how much money a given state would gain or lose if it were enacted. But early estimates suggest that states with expanded Medicaid programs and active participation on the ACA market could face major cuts.

[. . .]
Also among the governors signing the letter: John Kasich (R-Ohio) and Brian Sandoval (R-Nev.). Sandoval’s positioning puts him at odds with [Senator} Heller, who has been touting the bill as a co-sponsor.
Link to Washington Post article:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/renewed-obamacare-repeal-effort-dealt-a-blow-as-governors-come-out-in-opposition/2017/09/19/499478fe-9d51-11e7-9083-fbfddf6804c2_story.html?utm_term=.cefc6bc9c12e

Link to Letter from bipartisan group of governors:  https://www.colorado.gov/governor/sites/default/files/bipartisan_governors_letter_re_graham-cassidy_9-19-17.pdf



Note:
The video in the Washington Post article further makes these points:
The Washington Post video wrote:
--It  [the Graham-Cassidy bill] would reshape the ACA by giving states near-total control over federal healthcare dollars.

--Subsidies for marketplaces [health care plans] and expanded Medicaid programs will end in 2027.

--It lets states get waivers [in order] to axe regulations protecting those with preexisting conditions.

--The bill cuts federal health-care spending more than the failed [Republican-drafted] Better Care Reconciliation Act.

--The spending cuts would hit states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA the hardest [note the visual aid in the video showing a map of the U.S. with 31 states in yellow representing those states that would be hit the hardest, including Washington state, Oregon, Nevada, California, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico,  Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Arkansas, Louisiana, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania,  New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington DC].

--The Congressional Budget Office [CBO] won’t have a full estimate of its impact before September 30 [before the vote].








New York Magazine wrote:
4 Ways Graham-Cassidy Would Make the Health-Care System Far Worse

September 19, 2017

As with previous versions of Trumpcare, the legislation crafted by senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy faces two challenges: an absurdly short deadline — due to Senate procedure, they must act by September 30 — and resistance within the GOP to passing a bill that would impact one-sixth of the economy in unknown and likely devastating ways.

. . . On top of all the draconian features of the previous bills, Graham-Cassidy shifts the burden of crafting a health care system onto the states, and makes them do it with far less money.

Here’s a look at what the legislation will do to the U.S. health-care system, if Senate Republicans can pick up another vote or two by next week.


Cut Protections for People With Preexisting Conditions


Under Graham-Cassidy, insurers could not refuse to cover someone because of a preexisting condition, but they would be able to make coverage so exorbitantly expensive that sick people couldn’t afford it.
 

Oh, #WeReadIt. Section 106 allows states to waive underwriting req's. Insurers could charge through the roof for preexisting conditions. pic.twitter.com/SO1x1dZFqQ— AARP Advocates (@AARPadvocates) September 18, 2017

First, insurance companies could charge people higher premiums based on their health status. The Center for American Progress estimates that annual premiums would be tens of thousands of dollars higher for a 40-year-old with various medical conditions than for a completely health person:



. . . The bill also allows states to waive Obamacare’s essential health benefits, which require insurance plans to cover basics like hospitalizations, maternity care, and laboratory tests.
 
Conservatives like this because it would give people the freedom to buy skimpy health plans for dirt cheap, if that’s all they’re interested in. That would reduce costs for young and healthy people, but make comprehensive plans exorbitantly expensive since only sicker, older people would seek them out. (Like previous GOP health plans, insurers would be allowed to charge older people five times as much as younger people, while the currently limit is three times as much.)

. . .  Republicans are pushing to have a vote before we get estimates of what each state would do. But as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes, several months ago, the Congressional Budget Office scored a similar GOP proposal to let states waive these Obamacare provisions. The CBO concluded:

• States accounting for one-sixth of the nation’s population would choose to let insurers charge higher premiums based on health status. In those states, “less healthy individuals (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would be unable to purchase comprehensive coverage with premiums close to those under current law and might not be able to purchase coverage at all [emphasis added].”
 
• States accounting for half of the nation’s population would choose to let insurers exclude essential health benefits. In those states, “services or benefits likely to be excluded … include maternity care, mental health and substance abuse benefits, rehabilitative and habilitative services, and pediatric dental benefits.” People needing these services “would face increases in their out-of-pocket costs. Some people would have increases of thousands of dollars in a year.”

Gut Federal Funding for Health Care


Like any good Obamacare repeal plan, Graham-Cassidy would eliminate both the employer and the individual mandate. (Though states are free to reinstate them if they wish.) Multiple analysts have concluded that this would make health insurance more expensive, and lead to millions fewer being covered (some by choice, and some due to the aforementioned price increase).

But Graham-Cassidy does something even more radical: eliminating federal funding for Obamacare marketplace subsidies and the Medicaid expansion, and replacing it with one block grant to the states.

[. . . ]
But Cassidy and Graham didn’t emphasize that the states will have far less money to create these new health programs. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains, between 2020 and 2026, states would receive less money via block grants than they would under Obamacare, and that gap would get worse over time:


The block grant would equal $140 billion in 2020, which is $26 billion, or 16 percent, below projected federal spending for the Medicaid expansion and marketplace subsidies under current law. The block grant would increase annually by roughly 2 percent, to $158 billion in 2026. That wouldn’t even keep pace with general inflation, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects to equal 2.4 percent annually over that period, let alone with expected growth in per-beneficiary health care costs and enrollment. Thus, by 2026, block grant funding under the plan would be $83 billion, or 34 percent, below currently projected federal spending on the ACA’s major coverage expansions.

This deficit wouldn’t hit states equally. The complex formula Graham-Cassidy uses to determine how much funding each state should get is designed not to “discriminate” against states that decided not to expand Medicaid. That means California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia, and D.C. are likely to receive at least 50 percent less federal health funding by 2026.


Here's how much federal funding states would gain/lose under the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson Obamacare repeal bill https://t.co/dGcFk0B8X7 pic.twitter.com/CeLVxp7H8R

— Bob Bryan (@RobertBryan4) September 18, 2017

“I think this is a game,” said Senator Rand Paul, one of the few GOP senators openly opposing the bill. “I think this is a game of Republicans taking money from Democratic states. What happens if Democrats take power back?”

If Graham-Cassidy were to remain in place, everything should even out in 2027, when the block grants disappear altogether. . .

Cut Medicaid Even Further


Graham-Cassidy would do even more to destroy Medicaid, fulfilling a longtime Republican dream. It includes a feature from the Senate’s previous version of Trumpcare: a per capita cap on federal funding for Medicaid. While the federal government currently pays a percentage of a state’s Medicaid costs, starting in 2020 it would pay a fixed amount for each Medicaid enrollee, regardless of what it actually costs to cover them.

. . . . According to previous CBO estimates, non-expansion Medicaid funding would see a reduction of $39 billion, or 8 percent, by 2026.

Leave Millions Uninsured


The CBO score could prove fatal to Graham-Cassidy, as a handful of Republican senators killed previous efforts to repeal Obamacare over massive projected coverage losses.

The GOP’s plan to ram Graham-Cassidy through the Senate in the next two weeks could actually save it, since the CBO announced on Monday that it will not have time “to provide point estimates of the effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, or premiums for at least several weeks.”
Presumably, Graham-Cassidy will be very difficult to score, since instead of creating a single Obamacare replacement, it could lead to a patchwork of 50 wildly different health-care systems. But we do know that the CBO previously estimated that a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act would leave 32 million people uninsured and double premiums over the next decade. Compared to previous versions of Trumpcare, Graham-Cassidy gives states an even greater ability to cut preexisting-condition protections and tear apart Medicaid — plus it’s coupled with drastic cuts that set up a dramatic congressional showdown a decade from now. So, presumably, the new projections will be even worse. 

Link to New York Magazine Article: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/4-ways-graham-cassidy-would-make-health-care-worse.html


Of the various versions of the Republicans' repeal and replace bills, this is the worst version (with the repeal-only/no replacement-bill being the very worst)!   And because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will not have sufficient time to fully score this bill before the vote, we don't know for sure how many people will lose health coverage if this bill becomes the law of the land.


PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS, ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE REPUBLICAN, AND TELL THEM TO VOTE NO ON THE GRAHAM-CASSIDY REPEAL-AND--REPLACE BILL!!   PLEASE DO NOT WAIT!  IT'S UNCLEAR WHEN EXACTLY THE VOTE WILL BE, BUT IT MOST LIKELY WILL BE SOMETIME NEXT WEEK, DEFINITELY BEFORE SEPTEMBER 30!


Here are some reasons why you want your Senator to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal and replace bill:




 - - It will cut Medicaid for seniors, people with disabilities, and kids -- and it will end Medicaid expansion coverage for millions of low-income Americans.

- - It will take health care away from millions of people.

- - It will get rid of requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions, and make it so expensive to get coverage for pre-existing conditions, that it would become unaffordable for millions of people.

- - It will raise individual market premiums

- - It will eliminate health funding for ACA marketplace insurance plans AND for Medicaid programs in 2027.

- - Insurers would no longer have to provide for “essential services” (such as Emergency services, Hospitalization, prescription drugs, pregnancy/maternity/newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, rehabilitative services and devices, laboratory services, preventative services, pediatric dental benefits, and birth control coverage)

- - Insurers can allow lifetime limits on benefits (something that will be devastating to premature babies, or babies like Jimmy Kimmel’s son who are born with serious health issues).

-- Insurers would be allowed to charge older people five times as much as younger people


- - It will slash funding for Planned Parenthood.

- - There will not be a full CBO analysis, due to the lack of time before the vote



For contact info of your Senators, go here:  https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm



You can find your House of Representative’s number  by calling the Capitol's switchboard at 202-224-3121.



You also may find your House of Representative's phone number by going here: 
https://www.house.gov/representatives/





Indivisible's Trumpcare Toolkit will connect you by phone, with some ('moderate") Republican Senators, whose votes are key.  Just open this link:   https://trumpcaretoolkit.org/  



If you live in these states (see below), it is especially important that you please call these Senators NOW and tell them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace healthcare bill!  

John McCain (Arizona(202) 224-2235

Jeff Flake (Arizona) 202-224-4521
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)  (202) 224-6665
Dan Sullivan (Alaska)  (202) 224-3004

Susan Collins (Maine) (202) 224-2523

Shelly Moore Capito (WV) 202-224-6472

Dean Heller (Nev.)  202-224-6244
Rob Portman (Ohio)  (202) 224-3353
Bill Cassidy (La.)  (202) 224-5824
John Kennedy (LA)  (202) 224-4623
Bob Corker (TN)  (202) 224-3344
Lamar Alexander (TN)  (202) 224-4944
Cory Gardner (CO)  (202) 224-5941
Richard Shelby (AL)  (202) 224-5744
Luther Stranger (AL)  (202) 224-4124
Pat Toomey (PA)  (202) 224-4254
Ron Johnson (WI)  (202) 224-5323
Jerry Moran (Kansas)  (202) 224-6521
Mike Rounds (SD)  (202) 224-5842
John Hoeven (SD)   (202) 224-2551
Joni Ernst (IA)  (202) 224-3254
Thom Tillis (NC)   (202) 224-6342
Tom Cotton (AR)  (202) 224-2353




This repeal-and-replace bill will affect millions.  It will affect low-income children and adults, those with disabilities and pre-existing conditions, and the elderly.  It will hit hard nursing homes and rural hospitals.  It will affect those on Medicaid, as well as those with private insurance.  It will raise premiums.  It will cause millions to lose their health insurance.  It will make it difficult to get affordable health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.  It may affect you and your family, your children, your elderly parents, your friends, your co-workers, and your neighbors. 


Please DO NOT WAIT (the vote will occur before September 30), and call your Republican Senator EVERY DAY and tell them you want them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal and replace bill!!




Jimmy Kimmel summarizes the issues well:


September 19, 2017


This was posted by Jimmy Kimmel earlier this year:

May 1, 2017



Last edited by Poppy on Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:22 pm; edited 1 time in total

133default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:46 am

Poppy

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Administrator
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My thoughts are with Mexico and Puerto Rico.  Hope our friend from dcriss-archive is ok.



Last edited by Poppy on Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:45 pm; edited 1 time in total

134default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Fri Sep 22, 2017 2:13 am

Poppy

avatar
Administrator
Administrator
So some news media are reporting that the vote by the Senate on the dangerous Graham-Cassidy bill may occur next week on Wednesday.  The Republicans are desperate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by the end of September 30 (after September 30, the Republicans would need 60 votes; before September 30, Republicans would need only 51 votes)!  Their push to ram through this cruel Graham-Cassidy plan is purely political--to get a "win," regardless of how this bill will hurt their own constituents, regardless of how this bill will hurt real people.  Shame on them!  The Republican legislators in our Congress need to realize this bill will hurt real people, and will cost lives!


The list of health care groups which oppose this awful, destructive bill continues to grow!  How often do you have Insurance companies agreeing with doctors, hospitals and patients??!!  

ABC wrote:
Dcotors, insurance companies and patient groups slam Graham-Cassidy

September 21, 2017

Insurance companies, doctors, patients, hospitals and other patient-provider groups are rallying together against the Graham-Cassidy plan, saying it could result in millions losing access to affordable health care and coverage.


It’s not often you see these interest groups align, but the latest Republican repeal-and-replace effort has done just that.

. . . Groups opposed are concerned about loss of Medicaid coverage and how the law might affect people with pre-existing conditions. While people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage by law, states could allow insurers to charge higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions.

Groups like the American Medical Association, which represents the nation’s doctors, and the American Health Insurance Programs, representing big insurers like Anthem and Humana, along with patient advocacy groups, including the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association have joined a growing list of organizations opposed to the Graham-Cassidy bill.

The AARP is asking members to call their lawmakers, saying it will harm the nation’s elderly. AARP released a study saying that Graham-Cassidy would mean big premium increases for older Americans, and would “decrease coverage and undermine preexisting condition protections.”


The American Medical Association said that the Graham-Cassidy bill violates the Hippocratic Oath taken by all doctors, “first do no harm.”


The National Association of Medicaid Directors released a statement saying that they’re “strong proponents of state innovation,” but they said that reforms need to be done with careful consideration and “not rushed through without proper deliberation.”


On Wednesday, insurance companies -- who remained quiet about the bill for weeks -- came out in opposition to Graham-Cassidy, saying they’re concerned about consumers losing coverage and paying more.

LETTER: AARP voices strong opposition to "irresponsible" #GrahamCassidy; stresses support for bipartisan approach https://t.co/orhYxjoGjy
— AARP Advocates (@AARPadvocates) September 19, 2017

To #Congress: Graham-Cassidy would result in millions losing coverage, destabilize insurance markets, decrease access to affordable care. pic.twitter.com/p0A1lJf4cx— AMA (@AmerMedicalAssn) September 19, 2017
Link to ABC article:  http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/doctors-insurance-companies-patient-groups-slam-graham-cassidy/story?id=50013058






The Medicaid directors of ALL 50 STATES are opposing this bill!  The news media is reporting how rare it is for ALL 50 Medicaid directors of all the states in the U.S. to agree on their opposition to particular bill!

The Week wrote:
State medicaid directors join the groups opposed to the GOP's Graham-Cassidy bill

September 22, 2017

On Thursday, the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD), a group representing the Medicaid directors from all 50 states, joined other medical and patient advocacy groups in opposing the latest Senate Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, named after sponsors Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.).   The bill would scrap ObamaCare's subsidies for consumers and Medicaid expansion and redistribute that money as state grants, in what the NAMD board of directors calls "the largest intergovernmental transfer of financial risk from the federal government to the states in our country's history."


The Medicaid directors said they don't want that risk, especially without being consulted first, and they called a Congressional Budget Office score — which Graham-Cassidy won't have before voting — "the bare minimum required for beginning consideration." Setting up entire new health-care programs in 50 states requires an enormous amount of work and resources, NAMD said, and "the vast majority of states will not be able to do so within the two-year timeframe envisioned here, especially considering the apparent lack of federal funding in the bill to support these critical activities."


Andy Slavitt, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from 2015 until January and an opponent of repealing ObamaCare, said all 50 Medicaid directors coming out against Graham-Cassidy was "very unusual," and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Ct.), was similarly impressed:

Seriously. This is BANANAS.

You couldn't get ALL 50 state Medicaid directors to agree any anything else in health care policy. https://t.co/mKKwbSO1dw
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) September 22, 2017

The Senate plans to vote on the bill next week. You can read the NAMD's full statement here. Peter Weber
Link:  http://theweek.com/speedreads/726187/state-medicaid-directors-join-groups-opposed-gops-grahamcassidy-bill






New York Times wrote:
Latest Obamacare Repeal Effort is Most Far-Reaching

September 21, 2017

[The Graham-Cassidy bill] dismantles the Medicaid expansion and the system of subsidies to help people afford insurance. It gives the states the right to waive many of the consumer protections under President Obama’s landmark health law. And it removes the guaranteed safety net that has insured the country’s poorest citizens for more than half a century.

“This is by far the most radical of any of the Republican health care bills that have been debated this year,” said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “And the reason for that is that this would be the biggest devolution of federal money and responsibility to the states for anything, ever.”

[. . . ]

Like previous Republican proposals, the bill would also cancel the federal government’s commitment to the open-ended funding of the traditional Medicaid program, capping an entitlement for the poor and disabled that now covers one in five Americans. States could choose to take some of that Medicaid money in a block grant too.

Winners and Losers

One of the most striking things about the bill is how it redistributes federal money among states. Some states that have invested a lot in expanding coverage under Obamacare (many of them Democratic) would lose big to others (mostly Republican) that have fiercely resisted going along with the law and are hostile to federal spending in general.

[. . . ]

Mississippi has one of the nation’s sickest populations and has historically resisted federal funding for social welfare programs. After the Affordable Care Act became law, Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, rejected not only the chance to expand Medicaid but also his own state insurance commissioner’s attempt to create a state-based insurance marketplace with federal funds offered under the law.

[. . . ]

In Alabama, another winner under the Senate bill, Jim Carnes, policy director at Arise Citizens’ Policy Project, an advocacy group, described the bill as “a bait and switch” for the state.

“The early gains from the redistribution will take a nose-dive 10 years out and we will lose billions,” he said. “No state is a winner in the end.”

Remaking Medicaid

The bill would make the most sweeping changes to Medicaid since the program’s inception in 1965. It goes farther than previous Senate proposals, and a bill passed by the House in May, by eliminating the expansion of Medicaid set up by the Affordable Care Act, which has extended the program’s coverage to 11 million more lower-income people, and putting the money into block grants starting in 2020.

[. . . ]

In all, Medicaid now covers 74 million Americans, most of them poor but also middle class people with disabilities and in nursing homes. The federal government shares the cost of Medicaid with states, and has traditionally paid between 50 and 75 percent of the costs, with poor states receiving more money. The commitment was open-ended; the government covered its share no matter the cost, or how many people enrolled. The federal government picked up the entire cost of the Medicaid expansion at first, with that share ultimately tapering to 90 percent.

Like previous Republican proposals, Graham-Cassidy would cap traditional Medicaid spending on a per-person basis, based on a complex formula.

That provision worries many hospital systems. “These funding reductions are unsustainable for many Ohio hospitals,” said John Palmer, a spokesman for the Ohio Hospital Association, adding that nearly 20 percent of hospitals in the state already spend more than they take in.

It’s hard to overstate the potential effects. Medicaid now provides medical care to four out of 10 American children, and covers the costs of nearly half of all births in the United States, as well as care for two-thirds of people in nursing homes and also for 10 million children and adults with physical or mental disabilities.

“It would unleash massive health care debates in every state capital,” said Mr. Levitt, at Kaiser. “All these tough decisions would no longer be on Congress’ plate but on the plates of governors.”

Consumer Protections

The proposal is much more aggressive than some of the other Republican plans in rolling back the Affordable Care Act’s consumer protections, say health care lawyers and other experts who have studied the bill. It would allow states to stop requiring insurers to cover “essential” health care needs like hospitalization, prescription drugs, maternity care and mental health treatment.

. . .  Lawyers say the bill would allow states an almost unfettered ability to permit insurance companies to charge someone with, say, cancer or diabetes much higher rates — or to exclude certain expensive conditions like pregnancy or addiction from the plans they offer.

[. . . ]

Moreover, unlike previous proposals, the bill would pave the way for insurers to adjust their prices every time someone renewed a policy, based on the individual’s changing health status. People could sign up for a plan and see the price skyrocket if they developed a potentially serious condition like cancer, said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser foundation.

Link to the New York Times article:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/21/health/graham-cassidy-obamacare-repeal-.html






Of the various versions of the Republicans' repeal and replace bills, this is the worst version (with the repeal-only/no replacement-bill being the very worst)!  

PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS, ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE REPUBLICAN, AND TELL THEM TO VOTE NO ON THE GRAHAM-CASSIDY REPEAL-AND--REPLACE BILL!!   PLEASE DO NOT WAIT!  THE VOTE WILL BE NEXT WEEK, POTENTIALLY ON WEDNESDAY, AND DEFINITELY BEFORE SEPTEMBER 30!


Here are some reasons why you want your Senator to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal and replace bill:




 - - It will cut Medicaid for seniors, people with disabilities, and kids -- and it will end Medicaid expansion coverage for millions of low-income Americans.

- - It will take health care away from millions of people.

- - It will get rid of requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions, and make it so expensive to get coverage for pre-existing conditions, that it would become unaffordable for millions of people.

- - It will raise individual market premiums

- - It will eliminate health funding for ACA marketplace insurance plans AND for Medicaid programs in 2027.

- - Insurers would no longer have to provide for “essential services” (such as Emergency services, Hospitalization, prescription drugs, pregnancy/maternity/newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, rehabilitative services and devices, laboratory services, preventative services, pediatric dental benefits, and birth control coverage)

- - Insurers can allow lifetime limits on benefits (something that will be devastating to premature babies, or babies like Jimmy Kimmel’s son who are born with serious health issues).

-- Insurers would be allowed to charge older people five times as much as younger people


- - It will slash funding for Planned Parenthood.

- - There will not be a full CBO analysis, due to the lack of time before the vote



For contact info of your Senators, go here:  https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm



You can find your House of Representative’s number  by calling the Capitol's switchboard at 202-224-3121.



You also may find your House of Representative's phone number by going here: 
https://www.house.gov/representatives/





Indivisible's Trumpcare Toolkit will connect you by phone, with some ('moderate") Republican Senators, whose votes are key.  Just open this link:   https://trumpcaretoolkit.org/  



If you live in these states (see below), it is especially important that you please call these Senators NOW and tell them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace healthcare bill!  

John McCain (Arizona(202) 224-2235

Jeff Flake (Arizona) 202-224-4521
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)  (202) 224-6665
Dan Sullivan (Alaska)  (202) 224-3004

Susan Collins (Maine) (202) 224-2523

Shelly Moore Capito (WV) 202-224-6472

Dean Heller (Nev.)  202-224-6244
Rob Portman (Ohio)  (202) 224-3353
Bill Cassidy (La.)  (202) 224-5824
John Kennedy (LA)  (202) 224-4623
Bob Corker (TN)  (202) 224-3344
Lamar Alexander (TN)  (202) 224-4944
Cory Gardner (CO)  (202) 224-5941
Richard Shelby (AL)  (202) 224-5744
Luther Stranger (AL)  (202) 224-4124
Pat Toomey (PA)  (202) 224-4254
Ron Johnson (WI)  (202) 224-5323
Jerry Moran (Kansas)  (202) 224-6521
Mike Rounds (SD)  (202) 224-5842
John Hoeven (SD)   (202) 224-2551
Joni Ernst (IA)  (202) 224-3254
Thom Tillis (NC)   (202) 224-6342
Tom Cotton (AR)  (202) 224-2353




This repeal-and-replace bill will affect millions.  It will affect low-income children and adults, those with disabilities and pre-existing conditions, and the elderly.  It will hit hard nursing homes and rural hospitals.  It will affect those on Medicaid, as well as those with private insurance.  It will raise premiums.  It will cause millions to lose their health insurance.  It will make it difficult to get affordable health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.  It may affect you and your family, your children, your elderly parents, your friends, your co-workers, and your neighbors. 


Please DO NOT WAIT (the vote will occur NEXT WEEK before September 30), and call your Republican Senator EVERY DAY until late on September 30.  Tell them you want them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal and replace bill!!




The co-sponsor of the bill, Bill Cassidy accused Jimmy Kimmel of not understanding Cassidy's bill.  Here is Jimmy's response:







I've tried to study this bill, and it seems to me, that Jimmy Kimmel is on point in terms of his analysis of this bill. 



-












135default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Fri Sep 22, 2017 1:32 pm

Poppy

avatar
Administrator
Administrator
John MCain (Arizona) just announced he is voting NO on the Graham-Cassidy bill!!!!

This is a big development--this gives other moderate Republican Senators (such as Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski) more reason to come out and state their opposition to the Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace bill.   This gives me and other concerned people some hope that this dangerous bill will fail.

Please, please ramp up your phone calls to your Republican Senators, especially if you live in Alaska (Senator Lisa Murkowski) and if you live in Maine (Senator Susan Collins).   We need to stop this bill--or the results on people's healthcare, on their lives, could be horrible, some say even catastrophic.  
.
Of the various versions of the Republicans' repeal and replace bills, this is the worst version (with the repeal-only/no replacement-bill being the very worst)!  


More news about why this bill is so horrible and dangerous:

NBC wrote:
Study: 21 Million More Uninsured Under Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill

September 22, 2017

If the latest Republican bill to repeal Obamacare passes, 21 million fewer people will have insurance by 2026, according to a new analysis Friday.


The bill, known as Graham-Cassidy, would eliminate Obamacare’s requirement that individuals buy insurance, end its expansion of Medicaid, and require every state to build their own health care system using a new federal block grant. It would also put new caps on Medicaid spending, which are expected to grow at a slower rate than under current law.


Graham-Cassidy’s block grants expire in 2027. If Congress doesn’t act to replace them, the number of additional uninsured versus under current law would rise to 32 million that year, according to the non-partisan Brookings Institution.

The estimate is in line with nonpartisan studies of prior Republican proposals on health care. A bill the Senate considered over the summer would have covered 22 million fewer people than current law, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the government agency that analyzes legislation.

The authors of the Brookings study cautioned that the effects of the bill were difficult to predict given the many paths individual states could take, but they looked a variety of scenarios based on how much block grant funding states devoted to coverage and on how many states maintained Obamacare’s protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, which states could weaken under the bill.

At the same time, the report said that its conclusion "likely understates the reductions in insurance coverage," because it doesn’t consider potential turmoil if states can’t enact a functional health care system by 2020, when they would transition from Obamacare to the new block grants.

Experts have also warned that the bill could cause premium spikes and instability as insurers struggle to manage the shift from Obamacare's exchanges, which are already in fragile shape. Some areas could be left without any insurers on the individual market.


The Brookings analysis contradicts boasts by the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., that his legislation would expand coverage.


Policy experts have said Cassidy’s claim is doubtful: Several other think tanks and industry analysts, including Avalere Health and the Kaiser Family Foundation, have put out reports predicting the legislation would cut health care funding to states by significant amounts, making it difficult for them to maintain existing coverage. Industry groups like the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association, along with a variety of patient advocacy organizations, are opposing the bill while warning of major coverage losses.


The Brookings study’s findings are especially relevant in the case of Graham-Cassidy, because Senate Republicans plan to pass the bill before the CBO has time to complete a full review of the new legislation. They need to vote by September 30 or they will lose their ability to pass the bill with a bare majority using budget reconciliation, a procedure that allows them avoid a Democratic filibuster.

Link to NBC article:  https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/study-21-million-more-uninsured-under-graham-cassidy-health-care-n803801




Please note that the estimate by this NON-partisan organization, Brookings Institution, is that 21 MILLION people would lose their insurance by 2026.  AND the number of people who would lose their insurance rises to 32 MILLION in 2027, when the proposed block grants expire (these block grants supposedly would fund the healthcare plans under the marketplace and also fund Medicaid). 

PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS, ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE REPUBLICAN, AND TELL THEM TO VOTE NO ON THE GRAHAM-CASSIDY REPEAL-AND--REPLACE BILL!!   PLEASE DO NOT WAIT!  THE VOTE WILL BE NEXT WEEK, POTENTIALLY ON WEDNESDAY, AND DEFINITELY BEFORE SEPTEMBER 30!


Here are some reasons why you want your Senator to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal and replace bill:




 - - It will cut Medicaid for seniors, people with disabilities, and kids -- and it will end Medicaid expansion coverage for millions of low-income Americans.

- - It will take health care away from millions of people.

- - It will get rid of requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions, and make it so expensive to get coverage for pre-existing conditions, that it would become unaffordable for millions of people.

- - It will raise individual market premiums

- - It will eliminate health funding for ACA marketplace insurance plans AND for Medicaid programs in 2027.

- - Insurers would no longer have to provide for “essential services” (such as Emergency services, Hospitalization, prescription drugs, pregnancy/maternity/newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, rehabilitative services and devices, laboratory services, preventative services, pediatric dental benefits, and birth control coverage)

- - Insurers can allow lifetime limits on benefits (something that will be devastating to premature babies, or babies like Jimmy Kimmel’s son who are born with serious health issues).

-- Insurers would be allowed to charge older people five times as much as younger people


- - It will slash funding for Planned Parenthood.

- - There will not be a full CBO analysis, due to the lack of time before the vote



For contact info of your Senators, go here:  https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm



You can find your House of Representative’s number  by calling the Capitol's switchboard at 202-224-3121.



You also may find your House of Representative's phone number by going here: 
https://www.house.gov/representatives/





Indivisible's Trumpcare Toolkit will connect you by phone, with some ('moderate") Republican Senators, whose votes are key.  Just open this link:   https://trumpcaretoolkit.org/  



If you live in these states (see below), it is especially important that you please call these Senators NOW and tell them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace healthcare bill!   (Note:  I am leaving John McCain's name on this list, but call him to THANK HIM.)


John McCain (Arizona)  (202) 224-2235

Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)  (202) 224-6665
Susan Collins (Maine) (202) 224-2523
Shelly Moore Capito (WV) 202-224-6472
Lamar Alexander (TN) (202) 224-4944
Dan Sullivan (Alaska) 
(202) 224-3004

John Hoeven (SD) (202) 224-2551[size=13]
Joni Ernst (IA)  (202) 224-3254
Thom Tillis (NC)   (202) 224-6342
[/size]
Rob Portman (Ohio)  (202) 224-3353
John Kennedy (LA)  (202) 224-4623
Bob Corker (TN)  (202) 224-3344
Cory Gardner (CO)  (202) 224-5941
Richard Shelby (AL)  (202) 224-5744
Luther Stranger (AL)  (202) 224-4124
Pat Toomey (PA)  (202) 224-4254
Ron Johnson (WI)  (202) 224-5323
Jerry Moran (Kansas)  (202) 224-6521
Mike Rounds (SD)  (202) 224-5842
Tom Cotton (AR)  (202) 224-2353

Dean Heller (Nev.)  202-224-6244
Jeff Flake (Arizona) 202-224-4521
Bill Cassidy (La.)  (202) 224-5824


This repeal-and-replace bill will affect millions.  It will affect low-income children and adults, those with disabilities and pre-existing conditions, and the elderly.  It will hit hard nursing homes and rural hospitals.  It will affect those on Medicaid, as well as those with private insurance.  It will raise premiums.  It will cause millions to lose their health insurance.  It will make it difficult to get affordable health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.  It may affect you and your family, your children, your elderly parents, your friends, your co-workers, and your neighbors. 


Please DO NOT WAIT (the vote will occur NEXT WEEK before September 30), and call your Republican Senator EVERY DAY until late on September 30.  Tell them you want them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal and replace bill!!

136default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:10 am

Poppy

avatar
Administrator
Administrator
Sounds like the GOP is exerting an enormous amount of pressure on Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.  

It also sounds to me like the Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace bill may be changed by the Republican Senate in order to send more money to states with Republican Senators who are the "swing" votes for this bill. 

And I'm guessing that Republican Senators may make a change in the bill of "pushing back the implementation date"--this may be done for purposes of reducing the numbers of people who would lose their insurance under this bill within the first 10 years (since bi-partisan organizations are publicizing their analyses of how many people would become uninsured if this bill passes--although the Congressional Budget Office (the CBO) has stated they would not have time to score this bill before the vote occurs next week).  

See "Republicans continue Obamacare repeal work despite opposition."  September 23, 2017.   Link:  http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/23/obamacare-repeal-gop-tweak-cassidy-graham-243054?lo=ap_b1






Please keep calling your Republican Senators and tell them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace bill!








Doctors and medical groups are unanimous in their opposition to this bill, based on the horrible effects they predict will occur to their patients' lives if this bill passes.
The Atlantic wrote:
Doctors: No

Physicians rarely agree on anything as strongly as they do that the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill is harmful.

September 21, 2017

It used to be that when a doctor gave a confident recommendation, patients trusted it. A skeptical person might seek a second opinion, or a third. When they all agreed, the best course seemed clear.


Today, America’s major physician organizations are recommending something, strongly and in unison: The latest health-care bill, known as Graham-Cassidy, would do harm to the country and should be defeated.

Coalitions of health professionals that have spoken publicly against the measure so far include the American Medical Association (“Provisions violate longstanding AMA policy”), the American Psychiatric Association (“This bill harms our most vulnerable patients”), the American Public Health Association (“Graham-Cassidy would devastate the Medicaid program, increase out-of-pocket costs, and weaken or eliminate protections for people living with preexisting conditions”), the National Institute for Reproductive Health (“the Graham-Cassidy bill preys on underserved communities ... a clear and present danger”), and Federation of American Hospitals (“It could disrupt access to health care for millions of the more than 70 million Americans”).

This is in addition to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Association of American Medical Colleges, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and many others.

The exact number of people who would lose care under the bill is unknown; Republicans have indicated that they will not wait for a score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. But it is not difficult to see that the effects would be vast. In his letter to the Senate, the president of the American Medical Association, James Madara, wrote that the bill would destabilize insurance markets and decrease access to affordable coverage and care. He expressed particular concern over the loss of small-business tax credits, cost-sharing reductions, and the replacement of current Medicaid expansion with “inadequate” grants (which would phase out entirely by 2026).

[. . . ]

These groups are not historically liberal—not progressive idealists who demand universal coverage. The AMA has been critical of the Affordable Care Act, and this week asks only that Congress “work in a bipartisan, bicameral manner to increase the number of Americans with access to quality, affordable health insurance.” Similarly, the mental-health professionals wrote, “the APA is ready to work with members of both parties to craft a bipartisan solution that stabilizes the health-insurance market and ensures Americans have access to quality, affordable health care.”

[. . . ]

Republicans have indicated that they will be pushing for a vote within the next 10 days, before a September 30 deadline, after which the bill would require 60 votes in order to pass, as the Affordable Care Act did.

[. .  . ]

Even though the bill’s sponsors are Republican senators, their colleagues in the party have yet had difficulty articulating a single way in which the bill would directly benefit Americans. Supporters have instead voiced two basic, sweeping arguments for this bill. The first is that it serves to “repeal Obamacare,” and so it is worthy of support. A majority of Republican senators have proven willing to repeal the law with no replacement at all, despite projections of widespread harm. As McConnell said in July, “We told our constituents we would vote that way ... We kept our commitments.” This argument from fidelity offers opportunity to claim moral high ground while voting for a bill that would, by objective measures, do much harm.

The other argument is at least feasibly somewhat related to policy: that the bill would empower states. This argument is bizarre in that an aim of the Affordable Care Act was to incentivize states to expand Medicaid, and yet many didn’t, leaving millions of their own citizens uninsured. Republicans then complained that these states were suffering under Obamacare. Graham-Cassidy would work to redistribute some funds to these states, which has led some Republicans to argue that state funding will increase under Graham-Cassidy. It will, in some states, at least until funding ends in 2026.


Link to article:   https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/09/do-no-harm/540333/



PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS, ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE REPUBLICAN, AND TELL THEM TO VOTE NO ON THE GRAHAM-CASSIDY REPEAL-AND--REPLACE BILL!!   PLEASE DO NOT WAIT!  THE VOTE WILL BE NEXT WEEK, POTENTIALLY ON WEDNESDAY, AND DEFINITELY BEFORE SEPTEMBER 30!


Here are some reasons why you want your Senator to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal and replace bill:




 - - It will cut Medicaid for seniors, people with disabilities, and kids -- and it will end Medicaid expansion coverage for millions of low-income Americans.

- - It will take health care away from millions of people.

- - It will get rid of requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions, and make it so expensive to get coverage for pre-existing conditions, that it would become unaffordable for millions of people.

- - It will raise individual market premiums

- - It will eliminate health funding for ACA marketplace insurance plans AND for Medicaid programs in 2027.

- - Insurers would no longer have to provide for “essential services” (such as Emergency services, Hospitalization, prescription drugs, pregnancy/maternity/newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, rehabilitative services and devices, laboratory services, preventative services, pediatric dental benefits, and birth control coverage)

- - Insurers can allow lifetime limits on benefits (something that will be devastating to premature babies, or babies like Jimmy Kimmel’s son who are born with serious health issues).

-- Insurers would be allowed to charge older people five times as much as younger people


- - It will slash funding for Planned Parenthood.

- - There will not be a full CBO analysis, due to the lack of time before the vote



For contact info of your Senators, go here:  https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm



You can find your House of Representative’s number  by calling the Capitol's switchboard at 202-224-3121.



You also may find your House of Representative's phone number by going here: 
https://www.house.gov/representatives/





Indivisible's Trumpcare Toolkit will connect you by phone, with some ('moderate") Republican Senators, whose votes are key.  Just open this link:   https://trumpcaretoolkit.org/  



If you live in these states (see below), it is especially important that you please call these Senators NOW and tell them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace healthcare bill!   (Note:  I am leaving John McCain's name on this list, but call him to THANK HIM.)


John McCain (Arizona)  (202) 224-2235

Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)  (202) 224-6665
Susan Collins (Maine) (202) 224-2523
Shelly Moore Capito (WV) 202-224-6472
Lamar Alexander (TN) (202) 224-4944
Dan Sullivan (Alaska) 
(202) 224-3004
John Hoeven (SD) (202) 224-2551[size=13]
Joni Ernst (IA)  (202) 224-3254
Thom Tillis (NC)   (202) 224-6342
[/size]
Rob Portman (Ohio)  (202) 224-3353
John Kennedy (LA)  (202) 224-4623
Bob Corker (TN)  (202) 224-3344
Cory Gardner (CO)  (202) 224-5941
Richard Shelby (AL)  (202) 224-5744
Luther Stranger (AL)  (202) 224-4124
Pat Toomey (PA)  (202) 224-4254
Ron Johnson (WI)  (202) 224-5323
Jerry Moran (Kansas)  (202) 224-6521
Mike Rounds (SD)  (202) 224-5842
Tom Cotton (AR)  (202) 224-2353

Dean Heller (Nev.)  202-224-6244
Jeff Flake (Arizona) 202-224-4521
Bill Cassidy (La.)  (202) 224-5824


This repeal-and-replace bill will affect millions.  It will affect low-income children and adults, those with disabilities and pre-existing conditions, and the elderly.  It will hit hard nursing homes and rural hospitals.  It will affect those on Medicaid, as well as those with private insurance.  It will raise premiums.  It will cause millions to lose their health insurance.  It will make it difficult to get affordable health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.  It may affect you and your family, your children, your elderly parents, your friends, your co-workers, and your neighbors. 


Please DO NOT WAIT (the vote will occur NEXT WEEK before September 30), and call your Republican Senator EVERY DAY until late on September 30.  Tell them you want them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal and replace bill!!

137default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Mon Sep 25, 2017 1:07 am

Poppy

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Administrator
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Tomorrow, the CBO possibly is releasing a partial assessment of the Graham-Cassidy bill.   Senator Susan Collins hopefully will make an announcement of her decision.

I'm glad that our friend from dcriss-archive seems to be safe.  However what she is saying is consistent with what is reported on the news about the impact of Hurricane Irma on Puerto Rico.  If you can, please donate.


From dcriss-archive: 







Also, I'm glad that some kind souls are helping her out.  heart 


138default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:14 pm

Poppy

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Administrator
Administrator
So Senator Susan Collins (Maine) came out today, voicing her intent to vote No on the Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace bill!!!   Senator Collins waited to announce her decision until the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released today a partial score of the effects of the Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace bill.

CNN wrote:
CBO: Number of insured 'reduced by millions' under GOP health bill

September 25, 2017

Washington (CNN)The Congressional Budget Office has released a partial score of the GOP's plan to repeal Obamacare, saying the Graham-Cassidy bill would reduce the budget deficit by at least $133 billion but millions of people would lose comprehensive health insurance.

[. . . ]

The report is not as detailed as previous CBO scores, however.

It does not give a more specific number of how many Americans would lose health care coverage under the health care law sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana nor does it include information on how Graham-Cassidy would affect the cost of premiums throughout the country.

The agency announced weeks ago that it would not have adequate time to release coverage numbers and instead would only be able to release a "preliminary" report.

"CBO will not be able to provide point estimates of the effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, or premiums for at least several weeks," the agency said in a statement about the bill.
Link to CNN article:  http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/25/politics/cbo-graham-cassidy/index.html


If the other 2 Republican Senators who have  publicized their intent to vote No (Senator John McCain and Senator Rand Paul) continue to stand firm, that means the latest Republican bill to repeal-and-replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will fail.  

However, I think we need to wait to see if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell either announces he does not plan to take the bill to a vote, or until a vote takes place in the Senate and loses. Although Senator Collins's "No" position is absolutely wonderful news, please continue calling your Republican Senators to urge them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace bill.  We should not celebrate prematurely.  

If you live in these states (see below), please continue to call these Senators NOW and tell them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace healthcare bill!   (Note:  I am leaving John McCain's and Susan Collins's names on this list, but call them to THANK THEM.)


John McCain (Arizona)  (202) 224-2235 

Susan Collins (Maine) (202) 224-2523
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)  (202) 224-6665
Shelly Moore Capito (WV) 202-224-6472
Lamar Alexander (TN) (202) 224-4944
Dan Sullivan (Alaska) 
(202) 224-3004
John Hoeven (SD) (202) 224-2551[size=13]
Joni Ernst (IA)  (202) 224-3254
Thom Tillis (NC)   (202) 224-6342
[/size]
Rob Portman (Ohio)  (202) 224-3353
John Kennedy (LA)  (202) 224-4623
Bob Corker (TN)  (202) 224-3344
Cory Gardner (CO)  (202) 224-5941
Richard Shelby (AL)  (202) 224-5744
Luther Stranger (AL)  (202) 224-4124
Pat Toomey (PA)  (202) 224-4254
Ron Johnson (WI)  (202) 224-5323
Jerry Moran (Kansas)  (202) 224-6521
Mike Rounds (SD)  (202) 224-5842
Tom Cotton (AR)  (202) 224-2353

Dean Heller (Nev.)  202-224-6244
Jeff Flake (Arizona) 202-224-4521
Bill Cassidy (La.)  (202) 224-5824


This repeal-and-replace bill will affect millions.  It will affect low-income children and adults, those with disabilities and pre-existing conditions, and the elderly.  It will hit hard nursing homes and rural hospitals.  It will affect those on Medicaid, as well as those with private insurance.  It will raise premiums.  It will cause millions to lose their health insurance.  It will make it difficult to get affordable health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.  It may affect you and your family, your children, your elderly parents, your friends, your co-workers, and your neighbors. 

Please call your Republican Senator EVERY DAY!!  Tell them you want them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy repeal and replace bill!!




* * *


In other news, 3.5 million people of Puerto Rico are suffering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.  News media coverage stresses how federal emergency aid is too slow and that Trump has not yet submitted his request to Congress for disaster funding relief for the devastation to Puerto Rico, caused by Hurricane Maria.   As our friend from dcriss-archive has stated, power is out for most of the island and water is scarce, along with roads being impassable.  Trump needs to act and send the request for emergency disaster relief to Congress.


http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/25/politics/puerto-rico-hurricane-maria-aid-donald-trump/index.html

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/09/the_trump_administration_s_disaster_response_in_puerto_rico_after_hurricane.html




Here is some more information of how to donate to  victims of Hurricane Maria. 

https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=5356&from=homepage





In addition please donate to help the victims of the earthquakes in Mexico.  They are also in need of assistance, so please help if you can.  Here is info of charitable organizations you may donate to:

https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=5392&from=homepage


Note:  Charity Navigator is a non-profit, charitable organization that rates other charities.  https://www.charitynavigator.org/


This article also gives suggestions of organizations to donate to aid Mexico earthquake victims:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/20/reader-center/donate-mexico-earthquake-.html?mcubz=0

139default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Tue Sep 26, 2017 6:38 pm

Poppy

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Administrator
Administrator
Well, it's wonderful news that today it was announced by Mitch McConnell that the Senate will not proceed with a vote on the Graham-Cassidy repeal and replace bill!!    The Republicans will move onto "tax reform" next, but at some point, they said they want to return to their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  But for now, this is a victory for all those who were at risk of losing their healthcare benefits and/or at risk of paying higher premiums! 


New York Times wrote:
Senate Republicans Say They Will Not Vote on Health Bill

September 26, 2017

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Tuesday officially abandoned the latest plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, shelving a showdown vote on the measure and effectively admitting defeat in their last-gasp drive to fulfill a core promise of President Trump and Republican lawmakers.

The decision came less than 24 hours after a pivotal Republican senator, Susan Collins of Maine, declared her opposition to the repeal proposal, all but ensuring that Republican leaders would be short of the votes they needed.

“We haven’t given up on changing the American health care system,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said after a lunchtime meeting of Republican senators. “We are not going to be able to do that this week, but it still lies ahead of us, and we haven’t given up on that.”

Mr. McConnell said Republicans would move on to their next big legislative goal: overhauling the tax code, a feat that has not been accomplished since 1986.

Democrats, who have spent all year fighting to protect the Affordable Care Act, a law that is a pillar of President Barack Obama’s legacy, responded by calling for the resumption of bipartisan negotiations to stabilize health insurance markets. Republican leaders had squelched those talks as the latest repeal plan, written by Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, gained steam.

[. . . ]

Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee and the chairman of the Senate health committee, and Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the senior Democrat on the panel, have been working on legislation to stabilize insurance markets and hold down premiums in the next couple of years. Both said on Tuesday that they hoped to resume those efforts.

Millions of people who buy insurance on their own face sharp increases in premiums next year, and Trump administration officials have taken a number of steps that have already undermined the operations of the health law.

[. . . ]

The bill’s demise was welcomed by consumer groups, doctors, hospitals and insurance executives who mobilized opposition to the proposal. The Congressional Budget Office said Monday that the bill would have reduced projected federal Medicaid spending by $1 trillion over a decade, added millions of Americans to the ranks of the uninsured and eliminated consumer protections for some people with pre-existing conditions.

[. . . ]

Mr. McConnell had planned for a vote before that deadline, but he could afford to lose only two Republicans. By Tuesday, three members of his party had already gone public with their firm opposition: Ms. Collins, Mr. McCain and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

[. . . ]

And other Republican senators might have opposed it had party leaders moved forward. In a statement released after Senate Republicans decided not to do so, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who voted against the last repeal attempt in July, denounced what she described as “a lousy process.”

“The U.S. Senate cannot get the text of a bill on a Sunday night, then proceed to a vote just days later, with only one hearing — and especially not on an issue that is intensely personal to all of us,” Ms. Murkowski said, without saying which way she would have voted.

[. . . ]

But Mr. Graham still held out the hope that the repeal proposal would pass — just later, after Republicans tackle taxes, and when Republicans can consider the repeal plan in a more deliberative fashion.

[. .  . ]

After tackling the tax overhaul, Republicans could make another attempt at passing a health bill without needing any Democratic votes. But such an undertaking would require passing yet another budget blueprint, in order to protect the bill from a Democratic filibuster, and it would put health care front and center as lawmakers head into the midterm elections.

Link to article:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/26/us/politics/mcconnell-obamacare-repeal-graham-cassidy-trump.html?mcubz=3


If you can, please tweet and/or call your thanks to Senators Susan Collins (Maine) and John McCain (Arizona). 

Jimmy Kimmel tweeted his thanks:


Here are their phone numbers:
John McCain (Arizona)  (202) 224-2235 

Susan Collins (Maine) (202) 224-2523



***

On the issue of Puerto Rico, Trump really needs to show some empathy for people who are suffering due to a huge natural disaster.  Instead of bringing up and spending time tweeting about Puerto Rico's debt, instead he should  focus on saving lives and helping people in dire need of help.  He should immediately submit a request to Congress for disaster relief funding for Puerto Rico, due to Hurricane Maria!!  This has not been done yet, and people are without power (they need gas for generators), without food and clean water, as well as in many cases, without medical care since the generators of hospitals are running low on fuel, as well as vital medications and other medical supplies.

The mayor of San Juan was interviewed on the news and was in tears, talking about the pain she feels knowing some people will not be reached in time.


Vox wrote:
Here's what Trump could actually do to help Puerto Rico

September 26, 2017

President Donald Trump could do a lot more to help Puerto Rico —a US territory with 3.4 million American citizens.

Instead, he’s tweeting about the NFL and blaming the territory for its own problems.

Since Hurricane Maria crashed into Puerto Rico on Wednesday, the vast majority of the island still has no power and more than half of the homes have no drinking water. The Category 4 winds knocked out the power system and most of the island's cell phone towers while flooding parts of the island with 30 inches of rain. The situation is dire.

In interviews about the challenges of turning the power back on, first responders on the ground said that the devastation is beyond anything they’ve ever seen.

[. . . ]

The president can’t single-handedly solve a major crisis like Maria, but there’s a lot he can do. He could, for example, ask Congress to pass a relief package for Puerto Rico, which would give FEMA and the island more money to rebuild. He could send more military resources to help with search and rescue operations. Instead he’s blaming Puerto Rico for its financial problems, fixated on NFL protests, and doesn't plan to visit the island for another week.

President Trump declared the island a major disaster zone on Thursday, unlocking basic emergency aid coordinated through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But it’s hardly enough. So far, FEMA has authorized the minimal response to one of the biggest natural disasters to afflict American citizens.

"It's complete devastation," said Fairfax Country Fire Chief Richard Bowers, who deployed a team of 80 search-and-rescue experts to the island as part of the federal response.

While this is a similar (initial) federal response that played out after Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida, emergency workers say the devastation in Puerto Rico is far worse and the obstacles are far greater.

The island's governor has begged for more federal help,
but Trump has shown little interest in sending extra resources to the island. He hasn't even visited Puerto Rico six days after the storm hit, which presidents normally do immediately after declaring a federal disaster zone. On Tuesday, he announced that he would visit in a week —two weeks after the storm hit. The president showed after Harvey and Irma that he can do a lot more for Puerto Rico than he is doing now.

Trump isn't pushing Congress for money

About 80 percent of the island's transmission lines are wrecked, and 100 percent of power lines that connect electricity to homes and businesses are down, he said.

"This is a big deal," said Buell. "That's billions of dollars [in damage]."

Puerto Rico doesn't have that kind of money. It's going to require Congress to pass a relief package to free up more federal dollars to fix the island's infrastructure problems. But first, the White House needs to send a request to Congress for the money. Trump hasn't even gotten that started. After Harvey hit Texas, Trump asked Congress for $8 billion in extra relief within six days.

So far, the White House hasn't announced plans to ask for similar help. Until that happens, federal workers are doing what they can to help Puerto Rico respond with the minimal amount of resources. But that won't be enough to rebuild the island. It won't even get the lights back on.

Emergency responders face enormous odds

[. . .  ]

While the Army Corp's work is essential, the division is not responsible for getting power restored to private homes. That will require much more federal action — and money . . .

The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, traveled to the island with about a dozen workers from the state's public utility company. The head of the New York Public Power Authority said they are in "triage" mode on the island, and are trying to help the local utility company get federal help.

"They are US citizens," said Gil Quiniones, the CEO of NYPA. "In time of need, especially in this situation of widespread destruction, we hope federal government will step up also."

Without extra money, Puerto Rico will stay in the dark. Trump needs to push Congress to get it.

Trump is blaming Puerto Rico for its own problems


Not only is Trump barely doing enough for Puerto Rico, he’s essentially argued that Puerto Rico is at fault — and responsible for its problems. In a harsh series of tweets Monday evening, Trump felt compelled to mention the island's financial problems.

Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017

...It's old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017

...owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities - and doing well. #FEMA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017

[. .  . ]

. . . the president's message was pretty hard for Puerto Ricans to hear. The vast majority of people living on the island are not responsible for their government's bad decisions, and should hardly be punished for them.

[. . . ]

Based on his tweets, President Trump doesn't seem inclined to help Puerto Rico more than it already has, which is the bare minimum.

Trump could push the military to do more

With few hospitals getting enough power in Puerto Rico, it's baffling that the president hasn't sent more military help to the island.

Questions have been swirling about why the Navy has not deployed the USNS Comfort, a 1,000-bed naval ship with a trauma unit and X-ray machines. In 2005, the ship was sent to New Orleans to treat victims of Hurricane Katrina. In 2010, it arrived in Haiti after the large earthquake killed more than 200,000 people. The Department of Defense did not respond to specific questions from Vox about why the USNS comfort has not been deployed to Puerto Rico.


Here is what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tweeted about that on Monday:

President Trump, Sec. Mattis, and DOD should send the Navy, including the USNS Comfort, to Puerto Rico now. These are American citizens. https://t.co/J2FVg4II0n
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 24, 2017

Meanwhile, the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, has been pleading the federal government for more help. He has asked for more resources from the Pentagon, such as helicopters and planes, to get help to people faster.   The Defense Department told Politico that it sent six Navy helicopters and three marine planes. The department also told Vox that a naval ship, the USS Kearsarge, has been deployed to Puerto Rico, where it has delivered 22,000 pounds of supplies and several medical evacuations.

The federal government's current, bare-bones response in Puerto Rico is completely insufficient to address the island's humanitarian crisis. For one, FEMA needs to expand its mission in Puerto Rico to include more extensive work on the island's public utilities, which is known as Category F assistance. That level of response was authorized in Texas a few weeks after Hurricane Harvey hit. Puerto Rico will certainly need it, and Congress will need to approve a similar — if not larger — relief package for Puerto Rico.

At the very least, Trump could get more media attention on Puerto Rico. He visited Texas twice after the recent storm and went to Tampa, Florida, once. Both tours led to more coverage of the disasters, which in turn helps trigger more private donations for disaster relief efforts. It also puts pressure on Congress to pass a relief package.

Yet the president seems to be in no rush to get more help to Puerto Rico. By the time he visits the island next week, it may be too late for some islanders.


https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/9/26/16349644/puerto-rico-humanitarian-crisis







140default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Sat Sep 30, 2017 1:36 am

Poppy

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People in Puerto Rico are still suffering.  The Americian government needs to get its act together--because when they continue to fail to do so, people continue to suffer and possibly will die!  Dr. Sanjay Gupta (with CNN) talks about how charitable relief organizations like Direct Relief and Project Hope are being much more effective in distributing medical supplies to the medical centers and clinics, than the federal government has been.  In times of dire need, when it's been 10 days since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico (on September 20), efficiency is a matter of life and death.

CNN wrote:
Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Puerto Rico has medical supplies -- why must doctors fight for them?

September 30, 2017

As a doctor, the level of pain and suffering I've seen in Puerto Rico has been hard to accept.

Puerto Rico was already stressed with one of the poorest medical systems in the United States, but the dual blow of two major hurricanes has left this island with a medical crisis that is usually reserved for war zones.

"I haven't seen anything like this. It's really bad," Dr. Maria Rodriguez told me when I visited her community health center, Concilio de Salud Integral de Loíza, in a small town in the northeastern portion of Puerto Rico. She was struggling to provide care for patients in her clinic due to a lack of fuel and, later, water. Medications were in short supply.

In shelters that have sprung up around the island, the situation is even worse.

[. . . ]

The inability to navigate debris-covered roads, combined with a lack of communication, has made it all but impossible for a coordinated medical response on the island. Hospitals and clinics are slowly opening, but still do not have enough supplies and medications to care for the surge of patients, many of whom have been waiting for medical attention for days in nearby shelters.

[. . . ]

Yet while Alvarez [a resident of Puerto Rico with a life-threatening infection] went without antibiotics, the port in San Juan was filled with row after row of containers of food, water and medicine, if only doctors had access to them. Instead, those supplies are still piled up, waiting for the trucks, drivers and fuel needed for distribution.

Volunteer doctors with operational cars and adequate fuel have begun taking matters into their own hands, traveling to San Juan to obtain medical necessities and transporting them back to their local hospitals, clinics and shelters.

[. . .  ]

Just what is that like? How hard is it to get your hands on these desperately needed materials? My crew and I decide to find out.

Armed with a list of critical medications needed at the Loiza clinic, we first head to the local US Department of Health & Human Services tent to talk to the local disaster management team.

A staffer named Lisa looks over my list. "Yes, we have these medications," she tells me. She asks us to wait 15 or 20 minutes.

. . . The staffer told us they'd have to run it up two chains of command before medications could be distributed.

Forty-five minutes later, we are still waiting. But we hear about a US-based aid organization, Direct Relief, that has shipped $1.7 million dollars of medical supplies to San Juan.


A 10-minute drive away, we find Direct Relief staff handing out supplies to local doctors under a parking structure. The scene is controlled chaos, as each doctor tries to grab the medications they need.

[. . . ]

One of my favorite professors in medical school told me something I never forgot: "You can create the best treatment in the world, but if it doesn't reach the people who need it, it has no value."

I think the same can be said about what's happening in Puerto Rico. So many lifesaving supplies are on the island, but until they get to the people who need them, they have little value.

Link:  http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/29/health/puerto-rico-medication-shortage/index.html








I still have not heard that President Trump has submitted a request for disaster relief funding to Congress.  I'm beginning to think he has no intention to do so.  Would he treat people of Texas like this?
Vox wrote:
What every American needs to know about Puerto Rico's hurricane disaster

September 29, 2017

Early on Wednesday, September 20, Hurricane Maria, a powerful Category 4 hurricane with 150 mph winds, made direct landfall on Puerto Rico, bisecting the entire island and drenching it with feet of rain. What’s happened since has been truly catastrophic for Puerto Rico.

There’s still no power on the island, with the exception of generators. A few are powering the highest-priority buildings like hospitals, but fuel shortages mean the rest lie unused. In many places there’s no water to drink or bathe in or to flush toilets. There’s limited food and cell service, and dozens of remote villages have been completely from everything cut off for 9 days.


“Make no mistake — this is a humanitarian disaster involving 3.4 million US citizens,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Monday.

The initial recovery response from the US federal government has been lackluster, and President Trump’s comments have not inspired confidence. After dwelling on early in the week the facts that 1) Puerto Rico is an island, and 2) Puerto Rico is in massive debt, the president and his senior officials then went on the defensive, describing the administration’s response so far as a “good news story.”

[. . . ]


Power is out across the island — and Puerto Rico’s energy system was troubled to begin with

[. . . ]

Fresh water is scarce

No electricity means no power to pump water into homes, no water to bathe or flush toilets. FEMA said Thursday that 42 percent of people on the island are without potable water.

Cellphone towers are knocked out

[. . .  ]


The status of most hospitals is still unknown

FEMA says 1 hospital is fully operational, while 56 are partially operational, and 5 are closed. The ones that are open are running on generators, but there are serious issues with distributing fuel, and only 19 have received fuel deliveries. So there’s still limited access to X-ray machines, and other diagnostic and life-saving equipment. Few operating rooms are open, which is scary, considering an influx of patients with storm-related injuries.

“Two people died yesterday because there was no diesel in the place where they were... In San Juan, a hospital,” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told CBS News in an emotional interview Tuesday. “We need to get our shit together.”

"I know that leaders aren't supposed to cry...But we are having a humanitarian crisis here," San Juan mayor tells @DavidBegnaud pic.twitter.com/pa7Hd6HZ1n
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 26, 2017

[. . . ]

Fuel is hard to find

Without a working electrical grid, Puerto Ricans have had to turn to gas-powered electric generators for energy. But it’s very, very difficult to get fuel on the island

[. .. ]

When fuel runs low, lives are put in danger.

[. . . ]

Certain US policies have contributed to Puerto Rico’s economic deterioration. One of them is the Jones Act (different from the Jones-Shafroth Act mentioned above), an antiquated law that forces Puerto Ricans to pay nearly double for US goods through various tariffs, fees, and taxes. The act stipulates that any goods shipped from one American port to another must be on American-made-and-operated ships. As Matthew Yglesias explains, it means shipping to Puerto Rico is more costly because there’s little competition among freighters.

[. . . ]

On Thursday morning, the Trump administration finally granted the island a temporary waiver from the law’s requirements, which should help somewhat with the immediate disaster relief.

[. . . ]
The US government is responding to the disaster, but it’s going slow


[. . . ]


Some 4,500 troops and National Guard members are on the ground in Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers are working to reopen more ports on the islands. FEMA has more than 800 people on the ground coordinating relief efforts.

[. . . ]

“Given the size of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the scale of devastation, it may take a task force of 50,000 service members to fully meet the needs of Americans suffering after Maria’s passage,” Phillip Carter, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, argues at Slate.
Trump could be doing much more to help

President Trump approved a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico the day after the storm hit, freeing up federal resources for the recovery. Then for several days through the weekend, he remained silent on the issue, focusing his Twitter feed on a mounting feud with professional athletes.

[. . . ]

On Tuesday, Trump told reporters he’d travel to Puerto Rico on October 3.

[. . .]


Trump also amended the disaster declaration Tuesday, increasing the amount of funds available for recovery in Puerto Rico. And he authorized the waiver of the Jones Act.

But as first responders on the ground in Puerto Rico told Fernández Campbell, this isn’t enough. Trump should also ask Congress to pass a relief package for Puerto Rico to give FEMA and the island more money to rebuild. He could deploy more military resources to help with search and rescue operations. The number of troops on the ground should be doubled, as Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who led the military's disaster efforts during Hurricane Katrina, argued Thursday on NPR.


"We can’t do this whole thing by ourselves," Ken Buell, director of emergency response for the US Department of Energy, told her.
Link:  https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/9/26/16365994/hurricane-maria-2017-puerto-rico-san-juan-humanitarian-disaster-electricty-fuel-flights-facts

141default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:31 am

Poppy

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Just so horrible and sad about the mass shooting in Las Vegas.  We need to make a change for stricter gun control laws. 














beeishappy:
  
Corden | Meyers | Kimmel | Colbert | Conan

via http://gleekto.tumblr.com/post/166010572700






Los Angeles Times wrote:
Column 'Thoughts and prayers' -- and fistfuls of NRA money: Why American can't control guns

October 3, 2017

There is no better example of the corrosive effect of money on American politics than the spending of the National Rifle Assn.


The gun rights organization spent a stupendous $54.4 million in the 2016 election cycle, almost all of it in “independent expenditures,” meaning spending for or against a candidate but not a direct contribution to a campaign. The money went almost entirely to Republicans to a degree that almost looks like a misprint (but isn’t): Of independent expenditures totaling $52.6 million, Democrats received $265.


If you’re looking for a reason that politicians are quick to declare that their “thoughts and prayers” are with the victims of the horrific slaughters that have become virtually routine in American life, but do nothing further to stop them, look no further.

The Center for Responsive Politics has compiled the baleful figures on the NRA’s election spending for its Open Secrets website. A spreadsheet showing totals spent on behalf of individual members of Congress through 2016 is here; the center is working to update the figures, and we will publish them once it does. The Washington Post has an interactive web page showing NRA contributions since 1998 to current members of Congress.

As the Center for Responsive Politics observes, the recipients of NRA largess almost always let their pocketbooks do the voting for them. The NRA endowed the 54 senators who voted in 2015 against a measure prohibiting people on the government’s terrorist watch list from buying guns with $37 million in support; only one Democrat voted against the measure — Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who has never received NRA support.

The NRA also gave $27 million in direct and indirect support to 50 senators who voted against a bill to require universal background checks for firearms purchases (with Heitkamp again the only Democrat voting no).

Link:  http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-nra-money-20171003-story.html





To find out which of your U.S. Congress persons has received donations from the NRA, go to this site:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/nra-donations/

Click on your state to see which of your U.S. Congress persons received donations from the NRA:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/nra-donations/

To see which U.S. Senators received donations from the NRA in the 2016 election cycle, go here:

https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/recips.php?id=D000000082&chamber=S&party=R&cycle=2016&state=&sort=A






xx

142default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Fri Oct 06, 2017 1:18 am

Poppy

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I meant to post this earlier.   Trump visited Puerto Rico on Tuesday, October 3, almost two full weeks from the date that Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico (on September 20).   What he said to the people of Puerto Rico was simply unbelievable (and that is saying a lot). 

He emphasized that Hurricane Katrina was a "real catastrophe," with hundreds of people who died due to Katrina.  And then Trump proceeded to ask the governor of Puerto Rico what was the death count so far in Puerto Rico.  After the governor answered, Trump pressed on, stating "“Sixteen people versus in the thousands" [who died because of Hurricane Katrina]. 

Who does this?  Who has the gall to tell people that their suffering, that their deaths do not count?  Who minimizes human pain, who minimizes deaths of people, by coldly quantifying them and stamping them as not constituting a "real" catastrophe, when compared to another tragedy?   And instead of providing compassion, he accuses the people of Puerto Rico of inconveniencing the U.S. government when he complained that the people of Puerto Rico "has thrown our budget a little out of whack."   Really?!  How dare these people be in need after a hurricane decimated their island, their homes, their lives?!   (And who cares about the suffering and the danger that continues to be experienced by people, by babies, by children, by the elderly, by the sick?)

Huff Post wrote:
Trump Downplays Puerto Rico's suffering, Says It's Not a 'Real Catastrophe Like Katrina'

October 3, 2017

He said officials “can be very proud” of the low death toll so far and told residents to “have a good time.”

President Donald Trump visited local officials and residents in Puerto Rico on Tuesday, congratulating them and boasting almost two weeks after Hurricane Maria left many of the island’s 3.4 million people without power, water or food.

[. . . ]

When Puerto Rico’s governor told Trump that 16 people so far had been reported dead, the president lauded officials and minimized the hurricane’s damage, suggesting it was not “a real catastrophe like Katrina.”

“Sixteen people versus in the thousands,” Trump said. “You can be very proud of all of your people and all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud. Everyone around this table, and everyone watching, can be very proud of what’s taking place in Puerto Rico.”

While Trump bragged about the official number of dead, the final death toll will likely turn out to be higher. Poor communication services have hindered reporting, and current living conditions on the island could jeopardize more lives, especially those of the sick and the elderly. 

Trump also appeared to joke about the cost of the storm damage.

“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” he said.

[. . . ]

The trip comes after Trump repeatedly bragged about his administration’s response to the hurricane’s devastation, blamed the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico for its debt crisis and called [San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin] Cruz “nasty” for criticizing the federal government’s sluggish relief efforts.

Trump, who visited Texas twice in the days following Hurricane Harvey and headed to Florida four days after Hurricane Irma, said last week that he was delaying a visit to Puerto Rico “because of the first responders, and we don’t want to disrupt the relief efforts.”

Tensions were high ahead of the president’s visit. Trump had attacked the island’s residents and leaders, saying they wanted “everything to be done for them” after Cruz begged for additional aid.

[. . .]

Following the briefing with federal and local officials on Tuesday, Trump visited with storm victims. He again praised officials for doing “a fantastic job,” as people showed him the storm’s damage to their homes, pointing out broken windows and noting power outages.

“We’re going to help you out,” he told them. “Have a good time.”

During a stop at a church, he threw rolls of paper towels into a crowd.

In truth, conditions in Puerto Rico remain dire.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has shipped millions of gallons of water and meals to Puerto Rico, but the island no longer has the infrastructure to widely deliver those supplies. Puerto Rican officials said last week that they were unable to move aid across the island without electricity and fuel.

[. . . ]

Still, almost all of Puerto Rico is without electricity, and about half the population lacks drinking water.
Link:  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-visits-puerto-rico_us_59d3640de4b0655781554854




Trump has remained silent in terms of failing to submit a request for disaster relief funding to Congress.   It appears he has no intent to do so. He clearly has expressed his belief that Puerto Rico is not a "real" tragedy and that the people of Puerto Rico are doing just fine (without electricity in stifling heat, and with dire shortages of water and food).


USA Today wrote:
Puerto Rico health system on life support two weeks after Hurricane Maria

October 5, 2017

Two weeks after Hurricane Maria toppled Puerto Rico's communications towers, wrecked its electrical grid and knocked out power to water systems, medical officials said the island's health system is "on life support."

[. . . ]

Among the multiple impacts that have left the island’s medical system deeply damaged:

• Patients are dying because of complications related to the primitive conditions and difficult transportation issues so many island residents now endure.

• A lack of transportation in small towns makes it difficult to transfer patients to larger hospitals.

[. . . ]

• Doctors are afraid to discharge patients after surgery to places with unsanitary conditions and where care and transportation may not exist, adding strain to an already strained system.

Puerto Rico has 69 hospitals, with 64 of them now operating at least partially. Of those, 17 are connected to the power grid, and the rest are operating with generators, according to the office of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. The island’s cellular system is still crippled, with 14% of antennas and 26% of cell towers operating.

[Carlos] Méndez, whose hospital has Puerto Rico's only fully functioning ward for cardiothoracic surgery — for treatments inside the chest — said the [U.S. Naval Hospital Ship] Comfort’s arrival comes as the island's health system "right now is on life support."

[. . . ]

Orlando López de Victoria, the only cardiothoracic surgeon still on the island, said more patients have arrived sicker than usual because of the difficult conditions.

Some have died.

On Monday, he operated on a patient whose transfer to Auxilio Mutuo in Hato Rey was delayed because there was no gasoline. By the time she arrived, her heart was so weak she didn't survive the surgery.

On Tuesday, Rosselló raised the death toll from Maria from 16 to 34, citing several similar cases as part of the reason for the increase.

"Yesterday, one of my patients came with a very infected wound because he has no water to take a shower," López de Victoria said.

Other cardiac surgeons left the island before the hurricane.

"I decided to stay because I love my country, my family and my patients," he said.
Link:  https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/10/05/puerto-rico-health-system-life-support-two-weeks-after-hurricane-maria/734130001/

143default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Sat Oct 07, 2017 4:53 pm

Poppy

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In other news, more elimination of our rights . . . this is awful and ridiculous.   This is why people need to actually get out and vote. 


Salon wrote:
Jeff Sessions just threw every transgender American to the wolves

10/05/2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a memo this morning declaring that the Department of Justice does not interpret Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as offering protections to transgender individuals in the workplace. This is a sharp reversal from the Obama-era interpretation.

[. . . ]

Title VII to which Sessions is referring is a federal law prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion. The Obama administration DOJ interpreted the basis of sex to mean protections based on sexual orientation and gender identification.

[. . .]

. . . With this new interpretations, the LGBT community would have no federal law on the books to protect them from being fired on the spot based on their identity.

More than that, with no federally guaranteed right to work, transgender individuals may find simple things like buying groceries or affording housing difficult. Beyond that, the message the DOJ's actions send to employers, the general public and the LGBT community in particular is chilling: No, trans people, already an imperiled population, just aren't Americans in the same way cisgendered people are and it's okay to treat them as such.

[. . .]

Except that there is no federal statute protecting LGBT workers and only 20 states currently have protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity, with less than half of LGBT individuals in America living with both sexual and gender protections.

[. . . ]

In July of 2017, the DOJ rescinded protections under Title VII because of sexual orientation. In September, the DOJ came out in defense of a cake shop owner who denied services to a gay male couple. This comes along with the President's apparently unilateral and unplanned announcement that he would be removing all transgender individuals from military service.

Link:  https://www.salon.com/2017/10/05/trans-protections-civil-rights-act/




NPR wrote:
Trump Guts Requirement That Employer Health Plans Pay for Birth Control

October 6, 2017


Demonstrators in Washington, D.C., argued for upholding the Affordable Care Act's birth control provision in 2015. The rollback of the rule is likely to spur further lawsuits, analysts say.
Charles Dharapak/AP  



The Trump administration is rolling back the Obama-era requirement that employer-provided health insurance policies cover birth control methods at no cost to women.


According to senior officials with the Department of Health and Human Services, the goal of the new rule is to allow any company or nonprofit group to exclude the coverage for contraception if it has a religious or moral objection.

[. . . ]

But some health policy analysts say the new rule creates a huge opening that lets any employer claim an exemption, leaving their female workers to pay the full cost of any birth control out of pocket.

[. . . ]


The change fulfills a promise President Trump made in May to the Catholic religious order The Little Sisters of the Poor in a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. The nuns had sued the Obama administration over the birth control requirement.


It also sets up a fight between advocates of religious freedom and those of equal rights for women. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Trump Administration within hours of the rule being published, claiming it violated the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, which ensures that all people receive equal protection under the law.


"The Trump Administration is forcing women to pay for their boss's religious beliefs," said ACLU senior staff attorney Brigitte Amiri, in a statement.

[. . . ]


"A lot of women will retain birth control coverage," Palanker says, "but there will be a lot of women who will lose that coverage."


That means they'll find themselves paying out of pocket. A one-month supply of birth control pills can cost anywhere from $4 to $55 or more, according to GoodRX.com.

[. . .]


HHS officials say they also plan more stringent enforcement of a provision in the Affordable Care Act that prohibits federal subsidies from being used for insurance policies that cover abortion. The agency will issue guidelines for insurers Friday on how they have to charge women who want abortion coverage at least $12 a year more for such a policy, and they have to keep that money in a separate fund to be used only to pay for abortions.


In addition to the ACLU, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and California Attorney General Javier Becerra announced they too plan to file suit opposing the new rule.
Link:  http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/10/06/555970210/trump-ends-requirement-that-employer-health-plans-pay-for-birth-control


-

144default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:26 am

Poppy

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My thoughts are with the people of my state, California, as firefighters battle fires.  The people of Puerto Rico continue to suffer due to a lack of a sufficient federal response.

Poppy

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Since the Republican Congress has failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ("ACA"), Trump and his administration is doing everything they can (that does not require legislation) to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.  To him, it is a way to get a political "win" for his followers.  But for the people of America, it can have disastrous consequences to their healthcare, to their lives.   Ironically, Trump's actions may hurt his own followers, and their families.  In this below ABC article, you will read how Trump is planning to cut federal subsidies which help low- to moderate-income Americans pay for their healthcare.  The result of Trump cutting federal subsidies will be that premiums will increase, and that some insurers will leave the market, making it difficult for people to find healthcare in their states.

ABC wrote:
Pro-Trump states most affected by his health care decision

October 14, 2017

President Donald Trump's decision to end a provision of the Affordable Care Act that was benefiting roughly 6 million Americans helps fulfill a campaign promise, but it also risks harming some of the very people who helped him win the presidency.

Nearly 70 percent of those benefiting from the so-called cost-sharing subsidies live in states Trump won last November, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. The number underscores the political risk for Trump and his party, which could end up owning the blame for increased costs and chaos in the insurance marketplace.

The subsidies are paid to insurers by the federal government to help lower consumers' deductibles and co-pays. People who benefit will continue receiving the discounts because insurers are obligated by law to provide them. But to make up for the lost federal funding, health insurers will have to raise premiums substantially, potentially putting coverage out of reach for many consumers.

Some insurers may decide to bail out of markets altogether.

[. . . ]

An estimated 4 million people were benefiting from the cost-sharing payments in the 30 states Trump carried, according to an analysis of 2017 enrollment data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Of the 10 states with the highest percentage of consumers benefiting from cost-sharing, all but one — Massachusetts — went for Trump.

[. . . ]

[Premium] Rates already were rising in the immediate aftermath of Trump's decision. Insurance regulators in Arkansas, another state that went for Trump, approved premium increases on Friday ranging from 14 percent to nearly 25 percent for plans offered through the insurance marketplace. Had federal cost-sharing been retained, the premiums would have risen by no more than 10 percent.

[. . . ]

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has estimated the loss of the subsidies would result in a 12 percent to 15 percent increase in premiums, while the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has put the figure at 20 percent [increase in premiums]. Experts say the political instability over Trump's effort to undermine Obama's health care law could prompt more insurers to leave markets, reducing competition and driving up prices.
Link:  http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/pro-trump-states-affected-health-care-decision-50479492





Bannon has even admitted that Trump's motive to cut off federal subsidies (that help low-income and moderate-income people afford healthcare) is to destroy the Affordable Care Act, making it clear that  the motive that Trump himself publicly gave for his decision was untrue.  (Trump had stated the reason why he decided to end federal healthcare subsidies was because such payments were a "windfall to insurance companies." )

Huffington Post wrote:
Trump Ally Says President Cut Off Obamacare Payments to Destroy Health Law

October 15, 2017

President Donald Trump ended payments to health insurance companies serving the poorest Obamacare customers in order to deliberately destroy the health care law, former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon said.

“Not gonna make the CSR [cost-sharing reduction] payments. Gonna blow that thing up, gonna blow those [insurance] exchanges up, right?” Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of the website Breitbart News, said Saturday in a speech at the Values Voter Summit, a conservative convention in Washington, D.C.

The White House announced Thursday that Trump would halt the cost-sharing payments, creating further instability in the health insurance exchanges set up under Obamacare. Almost 6 million low-income Americans qualified for the subsidy when they enrolled this year in the program, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Trump defended his decision to end the subsidies, claiming they were a “windfall” to insurance companies.

Health Insurance stocks, which have gone through the roof during the ObamaCare years, plunged yesterday after I ended their Dems windfall!


— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2017

Several top Republicans disputed the president’s characterization of the cost-sharing subsidies on the Sunday news talk shows.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of three GOP senators who voted against repealing Obamacare earlier this year, said Trump’s decision to end the payments is “affecting the ability of vulnerable people to receive health care right now.”

“This is not a bailout of the insurers,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “What this money is used for is to help low-income people afford their deductibles and their co-pays so that their health care is available to them.”

Asked whether Trump’s decision hurt ordinary Americans, Collins said, “I do believe that.”

“If they can’t afford their deductibles, then their insurance is pretty much useless,” Collins added.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) also criticized the president’s decision to end the payments.

“These were payments to insurance companies to make sure that hardworking Americans, who don’t make a lot of money, can have their copayments taken care of,” Kasich said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It’s a subsidy to do that. And what this decision [by Trump] is leading to are higher prices.”
Link:  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/steve-bannon-obamacare_us_59e38e26e4b03a7be5815bd2






Trump and his administration have turned to a variety of ways to weaken the Affordable Care Act, due to Trump's effort to finally reach a political victory since the Republicans have failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the legislature.   The results of Trumps actions are that he is hurting the health care of millions of people.

New York Times wrote:

We're Tracking the Ways Trump Is Scaling Back Obamacare. Here Are 12

October 12, 2017

The Trump administration continues to take action that could weaken the Affordable Care Act and curtail enrollment in coverage under the law. So far, it has:

1
Said it would end subsidies to health insurance companies that help low-income customers pay out-of-pocket medical costs. Announced on Oct. 12.

2
Opened the door for sales of less expensive plans [association health plans] with fewer benefits and fewer protections for consumers. Signed executive order on Oct. 12.

3 Decided not to send health department officials to local open enrollment events in states. First reported on Sept. 27.

4 Decided to shut down the Affordable Care Act website for 12 hours nearly every Sunday during open enrollment. First reported in September.

5
Said it would cut by 40 percent funding to groups that help people enroll. Announced on Aug. 31.

6 Said it would slash spending on advertising and promotion for enrollment to $10 million from $100 million. Announced on Aug. 31.

7 Made videos criticizing the health law and posted them on YouTube. In June and July.

8 Posted infographics criticizing the health law on Twitter. Mostly in late June and mid-July.

9 Made tax credits for premiums less generous. Finalized in April.


10 Used news releases to spread negative information about the law. As early as February.

11 Weakened enforcement of the individual mandate. Reported in February.12 Removed useful guidance for consumers about the law from its website. As early as Jan. 20.

Link:  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/12/us/trump-undermine-obamacare.html?smid=pl-share



Trump thinks that we do not know about his actions?!  That we do not care about how he is trying to hurt our healthcare?! 

Make no doubt, all of his actions can achieve the exact effect as what the Republicans in Congress failed to do legislatively--and that is to make the Affordable Care Act fail.  Trump is sabotaging our health care, purely for a political reason (so that at election time, he can claim a great political victory of single-handedly, without the help of Republicans in Congress, causing the downfall of the Affordable Care Act).

The good news is this:  Democrats have been negotiating with Republicans on a bipartisan “stabilization bill” that would include a guarantee that federal subsidies (also known as "cost-sharing reductions" or "CSR payments") continue.  Ask your House of Representatives and Senators to ensure that the bipartisan bill continues protections for people enrolled in association health plans, that short-term plans stay truly short-term, and that subsidies/CSR payments continue.

Please make your voices heard, by calling your House of Representatives and Senators!

Here are some sample Scripts:

Script wrote:
The latest executive orders from the White House will drastically drive up premiums and put healthcare coverage at risk for at least a million Americans.

Please let Representative/Senator _____ [name] that I am urging him/her to commit to supporting a stabilization bill that will both guarantee federal healthcare subsidies (CSR payments), and close loopholes that allow association health plans and short-term plans to offer inadequate coverage.

This isn’t a bailout for insurers—this money will help Americans afford their health insurance coverage.

This is very important to me, and I will be watching to ensure the Representative/Senator _______ [name of Representative or Senator] protects health care for all Americans.

To summarize, here are some of the destructive actions Trump & his administration are taking:



  • He's raising health insurance costs by cutting off critical government subsidy payments that stop insurance companies from charging you more.  Trump’s actions are intentionally causing premiums to skyrocket.
     

  • He's gutting protections for people with pre-existing conditions, making their health coverage unaffordable, threatening the healthcare of millions of people.
     

  • He's destabilizing the health insurance marketplaces, separating people who are sick or who have pre-existing conditions into separate health care markets which results in making their health care unaffordable.
     

  • He's threatening women's access to birth control, by rolling back a federal rule that employers are required to include contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans.




Again, it is especially important that you call your House of Representatives and Senators if they are Republican. 


For contact info of your Senators, go here:  https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

You can find your House of Representative’s number  by calling the Capitol's switchboard at 202-224-3121.

You also may find your House of Representative's phone number by going here: 
https://www.house.gov/representatives/

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