*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
By now most Americans are aware that one of the first fabulous achievements of the new ‘great America’ is eliminating healthcare coverage for about 22 million Americans. Probably because Republicans and Trump supporters believe that 22 million Americans getting medical care is just another signal that the country is going in the wrong direction. Of course, Republicans have lusted to eliminate the Affordable Care Act since it was signed into law and it is certainly on Trump’s immediate hit list because he cannot profit from it; so it has to go. However, Republicans and Trump cannot possibly be satisfied eliminating healthcare for 22 million Americans when there are two other long-established, successful and popular health care programs they can ravage and eliminate healthcare for an additional 25 million Americans who are mostly poor, disabled, and elderly.
Republicans, like the Koch brothers who own them, have wanted to eliminate Medicaid and Medicare since their inception and now that they have unchallenged control of all facets of the government, the two programs face something akin to extinction level assaults. The horrible news is that Republicans don’t even have to work out how best to slash the programs because they have had at least a decade to devise a plan to eliminate healthcare for about a 25 million Americans and that is in addition to the 22 million losing healthcare to “Obamacare” abolition that brings the number closer to roughly 50 million Americans; or about one-sixth the population. It is not nearly enough for Republicans, but they will eventually eliminate everything.
Trump promised his base, those nasty old white Christian racists, that he wouldn’t even think or entertain any proposals to touch their Medicare. But Trump is a liar and after he won the election by beating the candidate with considerably more popular votes than him, or any other white man in American history, he put up a new and Koch-Republican approved health care agenda on his transition website dealing with healthcare reform. Remember, in GOP parlance “reform” always means deep cuts, and where healthcare care is concerned, both Trump and the Koch brothers, and Republicans want deep cuts to healthcare programs indeed.
In Trump-speak, those deep cuts are not “reforms,” they were re-translated as “modernizing Medicare” and allowing much greater “flexibility” for Republicans to withhold Medicaid coverage from millions of poor and elderly Americans; and that is over and above millions losing out when “Obamacare” Medicaid expansion is abolished. Those are not just proposals or suggestions up for debate about the adverse impact on Americans’ health; they were solemn “vows” from the Trump transition team as a critical aspect of their plan to “make America great.” With an agreeable rubber stamp in the White House, Republicans are ready to help the happy fascist do what is worst for Americans and eliminate healthcare.
The big Republican plan for Medicaid, besides eliminating the expansion built into the Affordable Care Act, is to “reform” it by turning the poor people’s healthcare program entirely over to the states and giving them substantially less money to administer it. The so-called “block grant” swindle has never worked because handing over money for anything to Republicans at the state is always used for something other than its intended purpose. It is exactly why Republican governors and legislatures are able to use public education money for private religious and for-profit corporate schools.
The big goal for Medicare is exactly what Republicans have tried, and failed, to enact since the Koch teabaggers handed them control of the House. Republicans will, without fail, convert Medicare from a government-run insurance program into a paper coupon and a maybe a list of high-priced private insurance companies and, oh, by the way, significantly reduce the amount of funding that goes into the program.
Now, these predictions of impending doom for people dependent Medicare and Medicaid are backed up by expert research into Trump’s “healthcare reform principles;” principles that he shares with the Koch Republicans controlling the entire stinking government. In September, RAND Corp. researchers analyzed Trump’s health care reform principles and determined that his plan would increase the number of uninsured Americans by up to 25 million people.
The researchers also noted that any Republican action will have a particularly deleterious impact on people with serious medical conditions who will be faced with paying significantly higher out-of-pocket charges. Remember, abolishing the Affordable Care Act will not only eliminate health insurance coverage for 22 million Americans, it will also wipe out the “insurance reforms” that were hailed by the public as heroic and humane, but criticized harshly by the insurance industry as undue regulatory imposition on their profits. And, Republicans will eliminate those “consumer protection” reforms along with the same enthusiasm as they have in taking coverage away from tens-of-millions of Americans in the middle, working, and poverty class.
One wonders how long it will take all those white racist Trump and GOP supporters who are dependent on Medicaid, Medicare, and all facets of the Affordable Care Act to comprehend that nearly as many of them who voted for Trump are going to lose healthcare coverage; or at least be saddled with burdensome and often bankrupting healthcare costs due to deregulation. At some point, it may dawn on them that there is nothing Republicans or their racist hero is ever going to do for them. But it likely won’t matter as long as there is a promise of making America great; even if “great” means making Americans, predominately Trump’s base, more likely to suffer and die for lack of healthcare coverage.