A portent, or an omen, is a warning sign that something, especially something momentous or calamitous, is likely to happen. Although it is not the case in America, some human beings actually heed warnings and take steps to head off a calamity before it occurs; particularly when they know who intends on causing the disaster, when and how they will trigger it, and why creating a calamitous event is so crucial to their agenda. No, the coming calamity is not from ISIL, or any other foreign terror group, it is coming from Republicans who are no less guilty of threatening American lives than Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq.
For the past three years, House Republicans have passed a Heritage Foundation budget presented by Ayn Rand devotee Paul Ryan that Senate Republicans were livid did not get passed or voted on in the Senate. Of all the calamitous austerity, tax cuts for the rich, tax increases for the poor and middle class, and program cuts in Ryan’s Path to Prosperity budget, none are as valued by Republicans as privatizing Medicare, Medicaid, and soon Social Security.
Republicans are not joking, and it is not conjecture, that given control of both chambers of Congress, they will enact the Path to Prosperity and they will privatize Medicare and block-grant Medicaid (if not eliminate it) as part of their “stop entitlements” at any cost plan. Remember, last month Paul Ryan complained on national television that Republicans cannot possible put a complete stop to entitlements like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security without a Republican majority in the Senate. As with everything Republicans propose, they claim privatizing programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Veteran’s healthcare will increase the quality of service, save recipients money, and erase the national debt. They also claim that if Democrats would join them, they and the American people would see the blessings inherent in privatization and begin handing over government to corporate control and save America.
Fortunately, Democrats have a living, breathing example of privatizing Medicare, and frankly everything in the Path to Prosperity budget, that has done nothing Republicans promise and everything Democrats warned will come to pass. If he has accomplished nothing else, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has given Democrats and all of America a preview of precisely what a Republican Congress will do to America. Besides driving his state to the brink of insolvency, he revealed that congressional Republicans Medicare privatization scheme is an honest-to-dog calamity waiting to happen because in transferring the administration of Medicaid to private companies, Brownback sacrificed Kansans’ level of care; but the private companies profited.
In January 2013, Brownback promised that transferring the care of 380,000 Medicaid recipients to three private companies would not sacrifice their level of care, and the number of people on Medicaid’s waiting list would be reduced. He also promised the wholesale privatization of Medicaid under KanCare would save $1 billion, and yet a year-and-a-half later Kansas is so starved of revenue bankruptcy is in sight, schools are in crisis, courts face closure, children’s’ homeless shelters close for lack of $100,000, and ratings agencies are downgrading the state’s credit at regular intervals.
What Brownback has not campaigned on, and Democrats across the nation are obviously unaware of, is that the only possible way three private managed-care organizations could realize cost savings is by cutting Medicaid services. For example, a disabled person that required, and received, 24/7 medical care to survive prior to Brownback’s privatization scam is reduced to 40 hours per week of care. After skimming administrative costs, profits, and likely kickbacks (FBI is investigating), the private companies are cutting back caregivers’ visits to weekdays for only eight hours a day, or seven days for five hours each. And those billion dollars in savings Brownback promised? They have not materialized as evidenced by a state economy in the gutter due to a lack of revenue.
One person suffering under the Republican privatization scheme said that caregivers help him eat, administer insulin, help him brush his teeth, bathe and use the toilet. They also operate a device that sucks phlegm from his lungs and turn his body every few hours to prevent sores. The man asked “How can you take out that chunk of money on the backs of the most vulnerable and say with a straight face that you’re going to improve services? It defies common sense.” It is true, it does defy common sense, but so does giving tax cuts to the rich as a ploy to reduce the state’s revenue and say with a straight face the cuts will increase revenue. It is typically Republican and exactly what they promise to do if they gain control of both houses of Congress; that and privatize Medicare, Medicaid and likely Social Security.
A spokeswoman for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services shrugged off concerns about the drastic cuts due to Brownback’s privatization scam and said Medicaid recipients facing life-threatening cuts are like welfare people getting a brand new car every year and then suddenly do not get a car. She said, “Their natural response to that is going to be, ‘why are they being so mean to me?’ That’s just human nature. It’s very difficult to take away something once you get it. People get used to it. They think that’s what you need.” Life and death care, or any medical care, is not like getting a brand-new car every year, but Republicans have made it abundantly clear that healthcare, even life-saving healthcare, is a privilege; like getting a new car every year.
It is absolutely stunning that every Democrat running for Congress, governor, or state legislature is not holding up Kansas as a portent of America with Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Everything Republicans propose and promise to enact if they win the Congress has been imposed on Kansas residents and the results are certifiably calamitous. It does not matter if it is Path to Prosperity tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, domestic program cuts, or privatizing Medicare and Medicaid, the state of Kansas is a living portent of what Republicans will wreak on America. Regardless if it is imminent bankruptcy, credit downgrades, pitiful job creation, closing courts, grossly understaffed prisons, schools in crisis, or Kansans without critical medical care, Democrats have a tailor-made model of America under Republican control in Kansas and they are remiss and squandering a golden opportunity by ignoring it.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.
12 Replies to “Kansas Is a Portent of Republican Medicare Privatization Disaster”
Republicans are EVIL, Democrats are naive and trusting – the out-come is certain, and is like watching a train derail in slo-mo!!!
Paul Ryan complainted on 9/28/2014 PBS that while the private industry had profited by “only” 20%, it had not trickeld down because “the government interference” that is why the rest of the population income has grown by less than 1%.
Government is NOT a foreign entity, it is US, working for US to keep the eye on industry and to make sure we get the promised services that we have already paid for.
Behind closed doors, deals go on where the selling of private lands/buildings/US business goes to well connected profiteers.
Ask the people of Indiana about Mitch Daniels privatization of the toll roads?
Privatization FAIL: Firm that runs Indiana Toll Road files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Republicans have an ace in the hole that delivers the masses to the flame. It’s called the God Card and the God card is all that is needed to bring the stupid people under the thumb.
Well god has an answer for them
The Keyhole Nebula
The idea that a private for profit corporation can provide health care, medicare, medicaid, or social security adequately for all is completely ludicrous. Conservatives (of the right wing Republican bent) have heavily invested in negative attacks on government for years, trying to convince the populace to vote contrary to their best interests. A strategy bewilderingly successful with their base I shudder to think what will happen if these cretins gain control of our government..learn yoga, so you can bend over and kiss your a$$ goodbye.
TPGOP use and play the God card and yet when another countrys’ religion does and says the same it is WRONG. They loudly complain about it but fail to do a comparison and notice that it is the exact same thing. Right when they do it, wrong when someone else does or says the exact same thing
California, too, has required that disabled Medicaid recipients enroll with a private HMO, whereas we previously got Medicaid coverage directly from the state. I personally have had ten times as many problems with the HMO in three years in my county than I had with the state in over ten years. I have complained, filed grievances, gone to hearings, but have not gotten satisfaction. Now they expect me to be a mind-reader (they denied a medication and never told me, my doctor, or the pharmacy), and are treating me like an idiot because their bureaucracy was never explained to me (so I don’t understand it.) I have a state hearing scheduled on their actions, but don’t expect much. I suspect this is happening in many states.
It’s been very clear for a long time that the reason we need government oversight on services is to keep them out of the hands of the greedy (GOP). It’s also very clear that the GOP can never be trusted to do the right thing like raise minimum wage unless they’re forced to do so; again by that same government they scream about wanting less of.
Since every state that’s run by RW Tea Party Cons is failing miserably it should be clear what happens when you “let the states decide” code words for letting the GOP bankrupt a state & destroy its environment.
Ex-Kansas Senator: Top Brownback Aide Being Investigated By FBI
Every instance of privatization seems to result in less services and more costs, which is the opposite of what Republicans say it will do. It also inevitably results in corruption, usually by the people pushing for the privatization. For the logically impaired, those pushing for privatization are not looking to cut costs nor create better services, they are looking to line their own pockets at the expense of the tax payers.
I live in Kansas. I have diabetes and I have been on the waiting list for services for SEVEN YEARS!!!!! Thank god I found a good friend who is willing to to grocery shopping and laundry, etc. for me a few days a month–but it is still a struggle! There are days when I can’t even find the strength to get the mail! In my opinion Brownback is just waiting for people like me to DIE so he can claim the waiting list has been reduced!! SCREW HIM!!!
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