One way the Republican health plan will impact my rural county

Last night I used this nifty tool released by the Kaiser Family Foundation to calculate how the proposed health care bill released by the Republicans Tuesday night will impact Washington County.

In Washington County, if you are 60 years old and making $40,000 a year (per capita income is under $38,000 in my county), the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) health insurance tax credit in 2020 will be $7,800. The House plan would provide a credit of just $4,000 in 2020. That means the cost of buying health insurance for a 60-year-old making $40,000 per year will GO UP by $3,800 if the Republican plan is adopted.

Washington County health data comparing ACA and proposed plan from Republicans

Under the current plan, insurance companies are capped at charging three times the amount charged for coverage for younger people. Under the Republican plan the cap increases to five times the cost of rates charged to younger people.

There are also considerable cuts to Medicaid and Medicare.

All of these proposed changes will impose serious financial and health threats to people in my county who may not be able to afford insurance any longer, and these expenses will be added to the other cuts to funding in the proposed legislation. These factors, plus others in the proposed plan, do not bode well for our hospital or facilities in other rural communities.

Last May Washington County voters took on a bond to support our hospital, knowing that the bond could not solve all of the financial problems for our struggling facility. We still have work to do if we want to keep our hospital open.

Trump has no idea how our government works

Today Trump said he would call a special session of Congress to roll back Obamacare if he and a Republican controlled Congress are elected.

He can’t do that until he is sworn in. And duh, guess who else will already be in town and ready to work?

We can’t afford to have a President who doesn’t have a clue on the mechanics of our government. And shame on voters who don’t know better either.

Trump’s word salad with a side of crazy

Yesterday Donald Trump served up a word salad about the rate increases rolling out for 2017 coverage under Obamacare. It raised the question among reporters and pundits about whether Trump even understands the most basic premise of Obamacare.

Trump told Fox News, as Tweeted yesterday by Sopan Deb at CBS, “Well, I don’t use much Obamacare because it is so bad for the people….”

What Trump fails to understand (about this and pretty much anything else in a real world), is that he ISN’T using Obamacare, nor are any of his companies, because coverage through the Affordable Care Act isn’t offered to companies. Instead, individuals buy the coverage themselves.

Trump doesn’t know “he” isn’t using Obamacare at all. He doesn’t understand the very basics of how the plan works or who can use it.

Instead, as reported by Huffington Post, David Feder, General Manager at the resort Trump owns in Miami where the Republican nominee trotted out this absurdity, approximately 95 percent of the employees there are covered by insurance offered by Trump’s company. It isn’t a skimpy plan either,  according to a review of a policy shared with an analyst.

So Trump thinks he’s paying for Obamacare, but he doesn’t use it much, “because it is so bad for the people and they can’t afford it.” He is spending more money on coverage, but not using it. And yet the “people” interviewed are “happy with their health coverage.”

Trump served up a word salad with a side of crazy yesterday.

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Gonna be tough to top that

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He’s back! President Obama has his feet back under him and the State of the Union address he just delivered made it clear that he and the Democrats are on their game.

The President isn’t going to wait around for the Republicans to hold who knows how many pointless votes on policies and programs they can’t overturn. Instead, he will work with Democrats and any willing Republicans, and he’ll use Executive Orders to move our country forward on minimum wage increases, equal pay for equal work, world-class education for our country’s children, peace in the Middle East, keeping our troops at home, making the voting booth easily accessible for legal voters, and immigration reform.

Obama said we are building a stronger economy using renewable energy fuel resources. The President also told climate deniers to get out of the way.

Come on Mr President, put a cherry on top of tonight’s speech and say No to Keystone XL now.

I listened to Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers deliver one of four responses to be offered up by the Republicans tonight (Tea Party darlings Sen Rand Paul and Mike Lee are responding too while Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen R-Florida will deliver remarks much like McMorris Rodger’s but in Spanish).

McMorris Rodgers touched on some of the points Obama raised like access to health care, jobs, and education, but she didn’t do much more than share some personal examples about how important those things are to her and her family.

And really, did the Republicans and McMorris Rodgers think they need to pander to women by asking a woman who just had a baby two months ago to deliver their flimsy response?

Women and people of color will be wooed and courted by Republicans and Democrats from now until the November elections are over. The President and Democrats came to the front door tonight with a huge bouquet of long stem roses, jewelry, and heated seats on the 50 yard line of this Sunday’s Super Bowl. The Republicans can’t decide on a team captain.

Rural Georgia needs to suck it up

Health professionals know minutes, 60 to be exact, matter following a stroke. For someone struggling to breathe during an asthma attack, or stopping the bleeding after an accident, or consumed by a mental health crisis, seconds matter. Minutes are too long.  State Representative Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, should know this. She’s a registered nurse.

She also has the luxury of living in a metro county with a wealth of hospitals, four to be exact, according to the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce.

Cooper opposes the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid funding, a critical financial piece for rural hospitals. Walking lockstep with Gov Deal and fellow state legislator Rep Jason Spencer, Nurse Cooper told WABE in Atlanta, “There are some of those rural hospitals that need to close.”

I guess we’re just spoiled out here in rural Georgia, expecting to have access to an Hospital_Rightemergency room without driving 20+ miles to get care. All 1 Million of us rural Georgians who were cared for in small rural hospitals last year just need to suck it up, buckle up, and floor it.

Who cares how far away the hospital is? It’s only time and miles.

Just when you think it can’t get any crazier

There was a Tea Party/Veterans march yesterday from the World War II Monument to the White House yesterday that, once again, gets at the truth of the opposition to “all things President Obama.”

Veterans were joined by Tea Party faithfuls worshipping two United States Senators, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, who have never served in the military, and Alaska’s former governor, Sarah Palin, who quit when the political and legal scrutiny got tough.  Freedom Watch racist/Bible-thumping fact denier Larry Klayman didn’t miss the march either (Klayman continues to claim Obama is a Muslim and isn’t the President of “we the people”). They marched to demand a cherry-pick process to decide what is open and what isn’t (note that they weren’t marching from the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial or National Museum of the American Indian).

Let me be clear here: I am not saying all veterans support Cruz, Palin, Lee, Klayman, or anyone else at the march yesterday. Some of the veterans were glad to have these Tea Partiers with them, but that doesn’t mean the few marching in DC yesterday represent the views of all veterans. I do think these Tea Party extremists latched onto a ready-made event to get some easy press coverage.

But the march gave some people an opportunity to literally fly their racist flags under the guise of supporting veterans.
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Photos from both national and social media, don’t include any people of color participating. That is both telling and damning about who the Tea Party and extremists will prey on as an easy way to get some media coverage.

And while this type of thing has been pointed out after other Tea Party and über 20131014-083642.jpgConservative rallies, you folks might want to run spell check on your signs before you set out with the burning torches. Show some R E S P E C T for your cause.

Sign me up!

The Friday Photo
October 4, 2013
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Screen shot taken by Jami Mays, Athens, Georgia, after completing her enrollment in the new insurance exchange.

The privilege of being sick

Last week my allergies conspired and pegged me with an upper respiratory infection. It was bad enough to make me run a fever each afternoon and feel puny, so I went to the doctor on Tuesday.

He prescribed some antibiotics and over the counter meds and sent me home with a tidy sheet of instructions. I’ve done this before and know the drill: wait approximately 24 hours for the antibiotics to kick in and resume full speed.

But Thursday morning when I got up I said I felt really bad, and logically my husband asked if I was going to rest. Stunning both of us, I said, “Yes” and got back into bed.

Day One of The Big Rest consisted of actual bed rest. That night I turned off the light next to the bed and fully expected to leap out the next morning ready to go. 

Instead I woke up holding my head in my hands with a raging headache. And so began  Day Two of The Big Rest. Day Two was a slight variation on Day One because I did actually read some.

Amazingly, The Big Rest lasted through Saturday, which consisted of more reading, public radio, and half-listening to  Braves games.

On Sunday I got out of bed and commenced The Ease Back In.

Those four days were really unremarkable, except that on Friday I began to think about how privileged I was. I have a great doctor in town, reliable transportation to get there, and insurance to cover my office visit and  prescriptions. We work hard but neither of us need second jobs to support ourselves. Bills get paid and food gets bought.

Sure, it would have been a harder on us if this had happened when our daughters were young and at home, but there wasn’t added stress over getting to the doctor, or paying for the visit or meds.  The point remains the same: for some of us being sick and taking care of ourselves is a privilege. For over 17 percent of Americans without insurance, there are no privileges.