Letter to The Mountain Press dated March 14, 2017 from Bill Dayton
The latter part of last month Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, well-respected by senators of both parties for his candor and down to earth logic, was asked what his Republican colleagues thought of this president.
Studying this for a few seconds he said “some think he is mentally ill.” After another brief pause he continued “and others think it is worse than that.”
The latest episode of paranoia in which the former president was accused of crimes clearly having occurred only within the troubled mind of the accuser tends to validate those senators concerns. The tense feelings throughout this nation on many fronts, particularly healthcare, are based on a lack of stability and rational, honest conversation coming from the highest levels of government. Surrogates and spokespersons alike are being tasked to defend the indefensible and absurd.
Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, republican lawmakers have vowed to repeal. Recently that has been amended to repeal, replace or repair. This president in a brief state of reality proclaimed “nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated”; something those that bothered to become informed have known for a very long time. The approach being proposed by Congress thus far seems to be one of saving face and nothing to do with genuine repair.
Repeal and replace are highly unlikely given the dysfunctional state of this administration. The rift within the Republican Congress is between those with half a heart and those with no heart.
Tennessee is an example of how well insuring the working poor, those in the Medicaid gap, has proceeded. The phantom plan to replace Insure TN which was to replace Medicaid expansion has yet to materialize.
If delusions of grandeur are to be taken seriously by some, such as the big, beautiful wall which will never be built, then they should be equally impressed with this president’s healthcare plan he said would expand choice, increase access, lower costs and provide better healthcare while insuring everyone. This is another secret plan that would be no more unbelievable if it also included a pony for every child and a sports car in every driveway. In another time and with another congress and president a government based universal healthcare system, or Medicare for all, would come closest to a solution.
I feel what we have now with the ACA works in affordability and coverage if it is properly managed and supported, but Medicaid should be expanded by all states. I am confident any so called repair orchestrated by this congress will reduce the insured hurting the working poor, the middle class and those dependent on Medicaid. If I am wrong, it could be even worse.
Reality TV with its staged turmoil and unpredictability is a picture other countries are viewing of America. The ever mounting probes and investigations will hopefully bring this experiment in pandemonium to a halt. Four years is too long to wait.
Letter from Richard Henighan printed in The Mountain Press on Thursday, May 11.
I was surprised by your May 6 opinion piece which spoke hopefully about the replacement for the Affordable Care Act recently passed by the House of Representatives. Here’s why I disagree.
The proposal will do away with Community Rating, which protects consumers from discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. It will also do away with the protections that insure that policies cover all health care services a consumer expects, and that protect us from annual and lifetime limits on our coverage.
The original AHCA, only worsened by recent amendments, was rated by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as causing loss of affordable coverage to 24 Million Americans, with Tennessee’s share roughly 480,000. The bill is not only about the ACA. it cuts $880 billion from Medicaid, threatening our elderly in nursing homes (roughly 60% percent of nursing home residents in Tennessee are paid for by Medicaid) and mothers with new babies (51 percent of births in the State are covered by Medicaid).
It cuts $117 billion from Medicare, threatening the affordability of care for all current Medicare cardholders. You listed several supportive quotes from our local members of Congress. Here are a list of well-known non-partisan organizations that made strong statements against the Bill: American Cancer Society, American Breast Cancer Coalition, American Diabetes Association, March of Dimes, American Lung Association, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American College of Physicians, American Association of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, American Hospital Association, Mental Health America, AARP, and Consumers’ Union.
Also, the bill is a gigantic tax cut for only the wealthiest. If this does not convince you the AHCA is disastrous, the House first exempted themselves from its provisions, than hurried to pass it before the CBO could rate the final bill.
That in itself is enough said.
April 30, 2017
What exactly has the Senate done about Russia?
Back on February 15th Sen. Bob Corker called for congressional investigations into ties between the White House and Russia stating “Russia is not our friend.” As Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Corker, whom I had the pleasure of meeting April 17th in Maryville, has the authority to immediately establish an independent investigation of Russian interference with our democracy.
But, as he stated on the 17th he is satisfied with the Senate investigation as it stands.
The House investigation seems to be making some progress but I fail to see that the Senate’s has made any. I am asking Senator Corker to publicly announce exactly what progress the investigation has made.
Obviously top secret material can not be released, but has the committee even begun to issue subpoenas or the review of classified data? Have staff been assigned? How many meetings have been held just on the issue? Russian interference with our democracy is not a partisan issue, next time Putin could want someone you don’t support to be elected.
I agree, Russia is not our friend. Looking forward to your response Senator. Thank you.
July 21, 2017
“Better Care” life and death for many
On July 30, Medicare will turn 52 years old. It was signed into law by Democrat President, Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. We can all agree that it is one of the most popular pieces of legislation ever passed by Congress, with the main goal of providing medical security for the elderly upon retirement.
Medicare, a federal program, and Medicaid, a state and federal program, were both signed into law in 1965, with Medicaid being a program for people with very low income. It is true in 1965, that Democrats held the majority in all three branches of government, thus enabling the passage of H.R. 6675. Today Medicare covers over 55 million Americans, and has become a much loved safety net for people who would otherwise go without healthcare.
It took fifty three years from the time of the idea of a national health insurance plan in 1912, to the final outcome in 1965. It had not gained much momentum until 1945, when Democrat President Harry S. Truman, called on Congress to create a national health insurance fund for all Americans. Though Truman fought hard to get a bill passed during his term, he did not succeed. It would be another twenty years before some form of national health insurance, Medicare for Americans 65 and older, and Medicaid for very low income persons, would become a reality. The very first person to receive their Medicare Card was none other than the champion who fought hard for it, President Harry S. Truman.
Over the years many changes and additions have been added to Medicare. Today, Medicare continues to provide healthcare for those in need. The retirement of the baby boomers was once expected to cause Medicare to be a budget buster. Not so. The Congressional Budget Office is now projecting increases in spending to be much smaller than once thought, thanks in major part to cost savings under Part A that were part of the ACA, (nicknamed Obamacare).
Notwithstanding, the former Obama administration used the Affordable Care Act to push doctors to collaborate on patients’ medical care and purchase certain drugs and other medical services at more sustainable rates, potentially saving the program billions more, this time under Medicare’s Part B medical benefit.
Fast forward to 2017, and the debate raging in the Republican held majority Congress and Presidency over healthcare. It is especially disconcerting for the millions that will be kicked off their coverage, if the Republicans’ new and beautiful Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA) is passed. The deep budget cuts to Medicaid will amount to $800 billion, simply to fund massive tax cuts for the extremely wealthy Americans. We are talking about a life and death situation for millions of Americans.
How can America morally turn her back on the poor? Jesus never taught hoarding, quite the contrary. He said if you have two coats, share with someone who has none. We as Christians are to help the poor and needy.