Affordable Care Act — February 21, 2017 at 3:59 pm

I honestly don’t believe that Trump voters want to take Nathaniel’s Medicaid


Most Trump voters do not yet comprehend the sort of mass cruelty Paul Ryan has planned for them

Kim and Rich Rankin are the kind of people any voter should love.

They called the boy with “soft eyes” who they adopted “Nathaniel,” which means “God’s gift” in Hebrew.

“Adopting Nathaniel also meant taking on his host of medical issues,” Dom Smith writes in Stat News. “Most seriously, he was born with extra tissue in his already abnormally narrow airway. He needed a tracheostomy tube inserted at the base of his neck to breathe. If it came out — which it sometimes did — they had less than two minutes to replace it.”

The cost of the medical supplies Nathaniel requires –“suction catheters, oxygen tubes, tracheostomy ties, and so on” — alone is $5,000 a month.

Their saving grace is that as a former foster child Nathaniel still qualifies for Medicaid.

But that could all change if Paul Ryan gets his way and is able to turn the federal Medicaid program into “block grants” that states can spend as they please.

Few Americans understand what a radical proposal this really is because most of us don’t actually get what Medicaid does now, as Smith explains:

[W]ith more than 70 million beneficiaries, [Medicaid] is the largest insurer in the country. It covers some women who might not typically qualify if they are diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer. It is the main provider of long-term services for seniors and people with disabilities and pays for one-fourth of all mental health and substance abuse treatments. Forty percent of children rely on Medicaid.

Remember this: Trump voters voted to preserve Medicaid.

In May of 2015, Trump tweeted, “I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid.”

He later adopted the orthodox conservative position of Medicaid block grants, unaware or oblivious — or assuming that we were unaware or oblivious — that Ryan’s Medicaid plan could eliminate insurance for 14 to 21 million Americans — including Nathaniel.

These cuts are essential to Ryan’s plans because they help pay for the massive tax breaks he’s planning for the richest, who have never been richer.

Trump voters — or very few Trump voters — voted for that. And though they voted for repeal, they were promised “something terrific” in return. And whether they took Trump seriously or literally, they need to know what the actual GOP plan is.

The details are still sketchy but it’s clear that Republicans are proposing is a plan the will help the rich and the healthy while punishing the poor and sick. Insurers will again be allowed in various ways to deny people like Nathaniel, when he’s old enough, coverage. Then he’ll be shuffled into a “high risk pool” or — more likely — the waiting line for a high risk pool since never in the history of America have we had a high risk pool that was funded well enough to work, because the money needs to go to more important things — like tax breaks for rich people.

Worst of all, the GOP plan with its regressive tax credits that are not tied to the costs of rising premiums would be a “ticking time bomb,” Andy Slavitt, former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told us. It’s a recipe for an actual “death spiral,” he explains.

There’s been some debate recently about Trump voters’ feelings.

I honestly don’t worry about the feelings of people who willingly or unwillingly voted for a guy who courted division with mockery and slander. But I do worry about their health insurance.

And I worry about the health insurance of their family, their elderly relatives who may be kicked out of nursing homes if Medicaid is turned into block grants and the health insurance of any kids they may adopt.

More than 50 percent of voters voted for someone other than Donald Trump. Fewer than 30 percent of America actually picked him to be president. Democrats don’t need Trump voters to take back the White House.

But Trump voters, who are predominately Republicans, do have an out-sized voice in the debate to save the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid as we know it. Their calls to their reps just mean more than ours do.

There’s a reason every developed nation on Earth except the United States covers all its citizens. The idea of leaving cancer patients to the whims of the free market is not only immoral, it’s suicidal. Chances are you or a close loved one will be a cancer patient eventually.

Even Andy Slavitt, who oversaw the fastest reduction of the uninsured rate in generations to the lowest percentage ever, knows the ACA isn’t perfect.

Most of the problems could be solved with more generous subsidies but Republicans could keep this system that’s working and meld it to their goals, the way every advance in health care in America has been improved with the cooperation of the opposition party.

But if we take the path Paul Ryan desires, we’re dooming Kim, Rich and Nathaniel Rankin. We’re dooming them to toxic anxiety at least and abject poverty at worst. And there millions, yes MILLIONS, of Americans are in similar situations.

Whatever differences we have, I have to believe that many Trump voters don’t want to uninsure Nathaniel. So I’m asking you to reach out to any that you know and implore them to let their representatives know that they do not want that to happen in their names.

[Image via Stat News.]