Health care system is in real trouble
Republican in Congress and the Trump Administration worked hard last year to undermine Obamacare and Medicaid. Their efforts paid off.
According to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, the uninsured rate rose in 2017 by 1.3 percentage points — the largest single-year hike since 2008, when Gallup began collecting the numbers — to 12.2 percent. That may not seem like much. In fact, it works out to about 3.2 million more people lacking health-care insurance.
I'm guessing that Republicans are happy about these results, and want more uninsured people. Especially uninsured poor people.
The uninsured rate for Americans who earn less than $36,000 went up nearly three times as quickly as the uninsured rate for those earning more than $90,000.
That's one take-away from this story. However, there is another take-away. It's not just poor people. It's the young and healthy as well, and that will have long-term consequences.
President Donald Trump and the Republican Party decided to undermine the law anyway. When they couldn’t manage to repeal it, they voted to gut it, reducing the federal government’s outreach efforts to the still-uninsured and finally removing the individual mandate.
That’s why this new, disturbing trend could get worse. The Congressional Budget Office projects 13 million Americans will become uninsured because of the repeal of the individual mandate, which required that Americans buy health insurance or pay a small fine. Though it was unpopular, it was a linchpin of the law and a complement to the federal mandate that everyone receive care in emergencies, even when they couldn’t afford to pay. It made sure there were enough young, healthy people in the marketplace who don’t spend much on health care but whose presence kept premiums down for the older and sicker.
The $3.6 billion in cuts this year — $2 billion from a program that sends federal dollars to hospitals that serve a high percentage of Medicaid or uninsured patients, and $1.6 billion from a drug discount program — will have the greatest effect on so-called safety net hospitals that provide medical care for all comers, no matter their ability to pay.
..“They are placing our already fragile health system in jeopardy,” said Danne Howard, executive vice president of the Alabama Hospital Association. “More than 90 percent of our rural hospitals are already operating in the red. When you add further cuts to that, you are creating an extreme risk to our continued operations.”
The cuts come at a time when many rural hospitals already are struggling to keep their doors open. Since 2010, 83 rural hospitals have closed across the United States, according to the National Rural Health Association. An additional 673 hospitals are considered at risk of closure. Many of those hospitals are in states that chose not to expand Medicaid, the federal-state health plan for low-income Americans, meaning that they treat uninsured patients with no ongoing federal and state reimbursement for the care they provide.
If the GOP and corporate Dems win their "war on health care", our health care system will essentially collapse. Big Pharma and Big Insurance will de facto kill their own source of revenue. Not to mention, make America's workers sick and undermine the economy in general.
This dystopia doesn't have to happen.
There is, of course, a solution - Medicare For All.
The latest Harvard-Harris Poll survey found 52 percent favor a single-payer system against 48 who oppose it. A strong majority of Democrats — 69 percent — back the idea. Republicans oppose single-payer, 65-35, and independents are split, with 51 percent opposing and 49 supporting.