Virtually every industrial country in the world, with the exception of the United States, has an automatic government plan that medically covers all its citizens for doctors, hospitals, prescriptions, and medical devices. They tend to be covered by taxes and are administered by the government of each country. In all of these countries less money is spent on the medical coverage than currently in the United States. These plans are administered by the perspective governments and do not exist for profit. They exist for service to all the citizens.
The United States is the one exception to all this. Here medical coverage, even with government backing exists for private profit. All the medical plans are administered, directly or indirectly for private profit. Affordable Health Care or Obamacare was based upon a Republican plan first developed by a Republican Think Tank for the State of Massachusetts and applied by Mitt Romney when he was governor of that state. It incorporates private enterprise into a state system of universal state health care.
This plan was taken over by the Obama administration in order to glean Republican participation when it was first introduced in 2010 by a Democratic dominated Congress and President. It got zero support from the Republicans in both Houses of Congress. Not one Republican legislator in either House of Congress supported it. In fact it has been loudly denounced by Republican legislators since its appearance in 2010. Ironically President Donald Trump has complained that not one Democratic legislator has supported the Republican efforts to “repeal and replace” Obamacare.
Interestingly Obamacare’s popularity has phenomenally increased now that the Republicans control both Houses of Congress and the Presidency. Republican legislators are no longer holding Town Hall Meetings with their constituents in order to explain their “repeal and replace” Obamacare. They don’t like being hassled by the people who elected them, over this issue.
Currently the House of Representatives has passed a bill which dramatically limits Health Care to those who can afford it. The estimate is that this bill if it were to become law would remove over the next few years 39 million people from insurance coverage. They would not be able to afford it.
It should also be noted that the Republicans are keeping the minimum wage at seven dollars and twenty-five cents an hour. And anyone earning that much with a family is not only well below the poverty line, they also have to apply for government aid to survive. Even Walmart now pays their employees a higher wage.
The Senate has secretly put forth its own version of Trumpcare. This was developed by an elderly group of male, white senators. There are Republican women in the Senate but none of them were on the committee that wrote the bill. Since the Senate has a majority of two; there are 52 Republican Senators, 46 Democratic ones, and 2 Independents who vote with the Democrats, Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate Republicans, can only lose two votes in order to pass the bill. At present there are more than two Republican Senators, both on the left and right of the party, who refuse to support the bill.
The bill came out late on the week of June 19th and McConnell did not have the votes to pass it. A revised version was developed on Monday, June 26. He wanted a vote on the bill before the July 4th Recess. He did not have the support needed to pass it. Most medical groups like the AMA announced that they are opposed to the bill. McConnell has put off a vote on the current bill until after the July 4th Recess. His new strategy seems to be that if enough Republicans in the Senate vote against the bill he will have to get together with Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic minority leader, to put a bill through the Senate.
It is also worth considering that if, by some miracle, a Senate version of “repeal and replace Obamacare” is passed, the bill will be different from the House version. In order for the bill to become law both versions have to be identical and then the President has to sign it. So far the only place Trump has put his signature has been upon his innumerable executive orders. He has signed no major legislation. In fact the Koch Brothers have gotten disgusted with the lack of conservative legislation and have stated that they will write no more checks until the Congress and the President pass some conservative laws.
The entire concept of what the Congress and the President have attempted is a giant scam that they are attempting to perpetrate upon the American people. The basic problem to quote President Donald J. Trump is to find out: “What the Hell is going on with his repeal and replace Obamacare?” Is he hoping to set up a universal medical plan with “heart,” or is he throwing the general public symbolically under the bus?
Trump assumed the presidency on January 20, 2017. It is now the beginning of July. So far he and the Republican dominated Congress have achieved nothing legislatively. No new major laws have been passed. In fact the Congress was more effective under President Obama. The basic question is: What the Hell is going on? And what emerges is a dismal image of what Trump and the Republican legislators in both Houses of Congress are trying to do.
Trump and his cabinet are all millionaires and include some billionaires. They are, among other things, touting Tax Reform. This Tax Reform is lowering their own taxes, in some cases by millions of dollars. They see lowering taxes for the very rich as Tax Reform.
Most taxes are regressive; that is, the more one earns the smaller a percentage of their total income is paid in taxes. Among these there are use taxes which generally pay for road usage or sales or excise taxes which everybody pays equally. In all these cases the richer a person is the smaller a percentage of their income they pay in taxes.
The one exception to this is the income tax which is paid to the Federal and some State Governments. It is a progressive tax, that is, the higher a person’s income the greater a percentage of it is paid in taxes. This is true up to a point. At an income of $418,400 a taxpayer pays 39.6% of his taxable income. Thereafter, no matter how much more the individual earns he still pays 39.6% of his taxable income to the Federal Government. The income tax has now become regressive; the percentage paid decreases as the income goes beyond $418,400.
Trump and the Republicans want to lower the amount that is currently paid to twenty plus percent. This is Tax Reform as far as Trump and the Republicans are concerned. They want to allow the upper two percent of the population and the rich corporations to keep a greater percentage of their earnings. The price in order to do this is to gut Obamacare by reducing its cost by nine billion dollars. It’s a case of helping the rich by taking from the poor. And, of course, the Republicans can’t afford their tax reform unless they take the money from the poor and elderly. Consequently, in order to reduce their own taxes, they have to gut Obamacare.
What amazes me is that the United States is the richest country that ever existed. Yet we cannot afford medical care for our entire population. In order to allow for an additional tax benefit for the rich, such as Trump and all his cohorts we have to take benefits away from the overall population, particularly from the elderly and the young who desperately need the financial aid the Federal and State Governments are now applying. Somehow our priorities are upside down.
The irony here is that medical care in the U.S. as it exists today costs about three times that spent in practically all the other industrial nations, which provide health care for all its citizens.
And why does this state of affairs exist? The answer is the upkeep of our political system. Elections are exceptionally expensive in the U.S. The members of the House of Representatives run for office every two years; in the Senate it is every six years, a third of the Senate run every two years; and there is a Presidential Election every four years. These elections are inordinately expensive. They are paid for by non-tax-deductible donations. The tobacco industry used to be one of the main contributors; but it has been proven and generally accepted today that smoking causes cancer. I imagine that they are still contributing to political campaigns but they are today a minor player. Tobacco has been replaced by pharmaceuticals. Congress has fixed pharmaceutical laws so that they can charge more in the United States for their products than in any other nation.
Anyone living in the United States close to Canada or Mexico can get their medications at a percentage of what other American citizens have to pay. The politicians are having the rest of us pay more so that they can get generous contributions from the pharmaceutical companies. These medications being sold in the U.S. or other countries are all being produced by the same companies. They are all identical. Yet they are sold overseas for far less than in the U.S.
The Republicans are also against any form of socialism. Having a single provider of medical care in the country is in their minds a form of Socialism. This, to many people, equates to communism, which, by definition, is bad. The Republicans believe in a Market Economy; that is, having different private concerns competing against one another handling the process. That may have worked in the 19th and 20th Centuries, it does not work today. There are limited numbers of health providers in each state today and they are actually oligarchies controlling their market prices for excessive profit.
Private enterprise, even those that are non-profit, work for a profit or to pay large salaries. That added cost makes them all too expensive. The governments function is to serve the public. They are the largest employers in the country. They operate Social Security, Medicare, and the different state Medicare programs. These agencies exist for the public good, not for profit. The federal, state, and local governments also operate innumerable industries: TVA, city electrical systems. There are innumerable water districts to name a few of the government run businesses. Those operations have been going on for years. They have not failed but have provided necessary services for the public good.
Medicare, throughout the industrial world, is paid for by taxes which everyone pays according to their ability. It is equally distributed to all the citizens of the country paying their share progressively.
Apparently the Trump plan with “heart,” to quote him, is to allow twenty-two million people to lose their health coverage. Currently, I find, everything about Trump and the Republicans repulsive. They are essentially a selfish group that want to serve a small group within the society at the expense of everyone else. They are currently being frustrated by not being allowed to do this. Historically, it seems, they would like to take the United States back to where the French were just before the Revolution of 1789. I suspect the Midterm Election of 2018 should be very interesting. The problem is the period until that election.