Tuesday, February 7, 2017

My Views, III

I try to avoid making blanket statements and generalizations in my everyday writing. But I've found that some generalizations ring true, and sometimes, I say what I think sans filter. You and I both know, of course, that if you say what you think, at least one person with a differing point of view will have something else to say back. That's okay with me: I like discussions. On the other hand, if the other people don't want to discuss, and instead want to argue, you've just gotten yourself into a bit of a pickle. Hence my penchant to avoid blanket statements and generalizations.

Well, I made a mistake several weeks ago and said something that I think is true (from my experience) but that I admit, could have been worded in a better way. What I'd written was: "My read on the Republican viewpoint: Every life is precious but every life isn't precious enough to ensure healthcare for everyone." I went on to also write, "(And now I'm done politically. Going back to posts about the writing life only...)" This post of mine came on January 13, before Trump was inaugurated, but in the thick of conversation about the ACA repeal.

Most people who know me understood what I meant (I even received an email about it), but some folks felt affronted by my words and spat back some comments that might have been construed as "not friendly." In fact, a friend of mine apologized if I felt attacked, even though she didn't chime in on the discussion. Actually, I didn't feel attacked, but I was glad this friend at least cared enough to check in on me.

One thing I was accused of was making a blanket statement, which is true. My wording implied that every Republican in the entire USA is pro-life and doesn't want to extend healthcare to everyone. On the other side of the coin, another person pointed out that my post could imply that every Democrat doesn't believe in life at all. Mea culpa. I definitely should have worded my views differently.

Here's the thing though. I will stand by that statement, although what I should have actually written is: "My read on the Republican Congress viewpoint right now: every life is precious but not precious enough to ensure health care for everyone." Had I stated it that way, I would have been right. The Republican members of Congress had already voted, at that time, to begin the repeal of the ACA before anything else was in place. So yes, that statement--while an opinion of mine and a blanket statement--seemed pretty accurate. On the other hand, I know that not all Republicans agree with the repeal of the ACA. I also know that not all Democrats agree with the existence of the ACA.

And here's another thing. Very few Republican acquaintances of mine think that a repeal of the ACA without having any other plan in place is a problem. I know that the size of my friend/acquaintance pool is a small sample size, but if I took a poll of all the people who identify as Republican, what would I find? I should do the same for the Democrats or Independents, too. I'll have to put that on my to-do list and send out an update. (If you have similar data, feel free to reach out to me.)

What I can easily find comes in two forms:

First up, data from the Pew Research center that states, with respect to the ACA: "48% [of Americans] approve of it while 47% disapprove, according to the survey, conducted Nov. 30 to Dec. 5."

They provide a nice info graphic, which I've linked to here:

That article also goes on to say that "about three-quarters (73%) of Democrats approve of the law, while 85% of Republicans disapprove. Independents are roughly as likely to approve (52%) as disapprove (45%), though independent views of the law have grown more positive in the wake of the election."

What I find even more interesting, though, is that when the ACA is broken down into its provisions, look at how many people--including Republicans--are in favor of much of the health care law:

Go here for the image and article.
So my question is, then, do these people, who favor these provisions, realize that with an entire repeal of the ACA, these provisions will be gone?

Secondly, I also found a link to an article that discusses Obamacare, how it works, and how Republicans would change it. Within that article is a graph that answers the question, "What would you like to see President-elect Donald Trump and the next Congress do when it comes to the health care law?" The answer given is that 26% of Americans (I don't know if that's all Americans, but I think it is, no details of political affiliations) want to "repeal the entire law."

I find that a body of people (of any affiliation) who wants to repeal a plan that helps millions of citizens without having an alternative plan in place to be reprehensible. I find it very, very intriguing that those same people who "favor provisions" want to repeal the entire law. It makes me think that most people don't really understand the questions they are being asked, or the extent of what the ACA even means.

And let me say this, lest you think I'm against all Republicans, if the Democrat members of Congress had voted to repeal the ACA entirely, I'd be upset with them, too. I might stand on the side of the Democrats in most instances, but I certainly don't think they are infallible. Yes, the ACA has its problems. But let me tell you something that shapes my outlook.

I have a student who, thanks to the ACA, is now covered by insurance even though she suffers from acute intermittent porphyria. She is afraid that she will not find someone to cover her due to this pre-existing condition.

I have a student who, thanks to the ACA, could afford to follow her dreams and open her own business. Prior to Obamacare, she'd been afraid to quit her job because she depended on it for insurance. Sure, she has a few high premiums, but she's insured. And grateful. Now, she's not quite sure what she will do.

I know a woman who, prior to the ACA, was pregnant. Her husband switched jobs during that time and her pregnancy was deemed a "pre-existing" condition. With a repeal of the ACA, it is possible that pregnant women might be denied insurance, at a time when insurance is so crucial to the health and livelihood of both mom and baby.

And those are three circumstances of which I am aware. My guess is that plenty more stories could be told if I simply seek them out. (Just for kicks, search for some stories on how Obamacare has positively affected the general public. One story can be found here, and another here,)

I'm lucky in that my husband carries insurance through his employer and when I go back to work full-time, I could choose to use that insurance plan if I needed to. I'm also lucky that so far, my family is relatively young and healthy.

But what about my folks--an 81 year old pre-diabetic father and a 71-year-old mother with Alzheimer's? Let me be clear that my folks are doing fine: my father worked for a very long time before retiring, he didn't spend frivolously, and he's managed his investments well. Both of my parents, however, have a laundry list of medicines they currently take. According to Politifact, with the repeal of the ACA, they, too, will feel ramifications because they rely, in part, on Medicare. In fact, according to that article, medicine costs will likely increase quite a bit:
Perhaps the most notable change would be to reverse efforts to close the "doughnut hole" for prescription drugs. One provision of the Affordable Care Act dramatically cut the amount that seniors on Medicare have to pay for their medicines. (This is known as "closing the doughnut hole" because prior to the law’s passage, beneficiaries got some coverage up to a certain dollar amount, and then none until high-dollar, catastrophic coverage provisions kicked in.)
Both my mother and father voted for Trump, for a multitude of reasons. But I spoke to my dad once about Medicare and health care costs. He didn't fully understand that 1. Medicare was a government run program and that 2. Trump had planned to change the ACA. My father worries that the money for my mother's impending nursing home care won't be there, and I fear that he'll be right. With rising costs due to the ACA repeal, my folks and people like them will find less money in their pockets.

I'm not here to convince any readers of anything, though. Anyone with the ability to read and synthesize their own ideas after reading credible reports can figure out that the repeal of the ACA will cause changes, many of them not good, for many of Americans. What it comes down to, in my opinion, is whether these changes were important to you back on November 8.

For me, they were. As much as I can see the problems with Obamacare, I was more concerned that millions of Americans had access to insurance and I knew that Trump and a Republican Congress would pull it away from unsuspecting Americans as quickly as they could. And while some Republican members of Congress (think Bill Cassidy and Susan Collins) do admit that an alternate plan in place is a good idea, sadly, those members aren't making a big enough stink to mean a thing, nor are the alternatives good for the low-income families who live in the USA. And of course, that was always the problem with Trump during his campaign days: he never had a solid plan for anything and despite what he said, he never had the low-income folks in mind.

P.S. While I was putting this post together, I found this first-hand account of someone who used to work in insurance. I'm sharing the link here, since he made it public on his Facebook account. He certainly gives us something to think about.

P.P.S. Also while putting together this post, NPR reported that the GOP is backing away from an entire repeal of the law and that other Republican members of congress, like Lamar Alexander, have something to say about repeal before replacement.


S.B. House said...

Wow, that certainly was a mouthful. I can agree with you that to repeal entirely without a plan for replacement seems extremely short sighted. But when it comes to all the stories of people that ACA has helped, you can find just as many that it has hurt. My aunt has been sick her whole life; always another medical bill. But her and my uncle always stayed on top of it. ACA causes their premiums to skyrocket, and everything has become a battle to get insurance to cover. Including medications that are blatantly needed. They could be covered for healthcare if they made less money (one person actually suggested my uncle quit working because they'd be covered living off the State); but they're not the type to make it a plan to live off welfare.

I know that no system can be perfect. There's no one way to make it easy for 100% of the population. But a health care system should work for the majority of citizens. When it comes to the ACA there seem to be just as many stories mounting against it as there are for it. I'm not knowledgeable enough on the subject to say what needs to happen. Repealing. Changing. (Personally, I wish we had never become dependent on health insurance companies in the first place) But I do think that if a system hurts as much as it helps it needs something. Hopefully, something besides a quick reactionary retraction of the ACA. Something thought out and with a real chance of doing good. Of course, that will take time... and Americans en masse are not patient people.

Christina said...

It was a mouthful, I know. And I'm willing to admit that the cases I see are one-sided...those who are helped by the ACA. I am also willing to admit that cases like your aunt exist, and they shouldn't. A healthcare plan should, like you say, help the majority. I'm not knowledgeable on any of this, either, and I wish I were. I don't really understand why we can't have a healthcare system that works better, but you might be on to something...the insurance companies play their part in this. I think this is going to be something we battle about (not you and me, but we as a country) for a long time. I don't want socialized medicine...but something better. What that is...I don't know.

Best quote that we need to keep in mind..."Americans en masse are not patient people." You are a wise woman.