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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

More Media Nonsense

The Republican plan for Obamacare repeal and replacement was published on the internet yesterday evening.  It's not like the 2400 page Obamacare bill; it's just over 100 pages long.  Nevertheless, because much of it covers changes to existing legislation, it is very difficult to read and quickly digest.  For example, the bill may say that subsection 3(a) of a particular section of the US Code is to be terminated as of an effective date; if you don't know off hand what that subsection 3(a) says, you need to look it up to understand the bill.  It's the way all bills of this sort read.  It's doubtful that any reporter has yet been able to review and understand the measure.

So what is the take of the mainstream media?  It's a two parter:  first, the GOP has released the bill and second, it will reduce the number of people with insurance.  I've heard that reported from multiple sources this morning.  The problem is that the second part of the report is actually Fake News.  There is no way that the reporters can know how many people will buy insurance under the new plan.  Here's just an example of why that is.  Right now under Obamacare, only about a third of people who don't get insurance through their job, Medicare or Medicaid actually buy insurance on the exchanges and the number has been declining.  For the most part, those who don't buy coverage are young people who don't think they need to pay the expensive premiums for coverage.  Under the GOP bill, however, there could be policies sold that only covered catastrophic illness but without all the extras that Obamacare forced into such policies.  Coverage like that for young people would be quite inexpensive.  Further, the tax credits in the new bill might enable more of the young people to decide to buy these new, less expensive policies.  If the fraction of this group buying insurance went from one-third to one-half that would mean many millions of additional people with insurance.  There is no way that any reporter could analyze this overnight. 

Further, the Medicaid portion of the bill returns control of that program to the states.  Here too, there is no way to know what each state will do with regard to coverage.  Some will keep it the same, some will expand it, and some will shrink it.  Will that mean more insurance coverage or less?  Until we know what the states do, there is no way to tell.

Most important, the issue here under Obamacare was how many people had insurance.  It was the wrong question to ask.  The proper question is how many people have adequate healthcare.  Many people with insurance from Obamacare cannot get healthcare.  It's one thing to get a subsidy to help buy insurance; it's another to have to pay a $6000 deductible before that insurance begins to cover anything.  Literally millions of people are not getting medical attention because, after paying for their insurance, they don't have money left to pay for the deductible.  It makes no difference if they have insurance or not; the premiums just eat up their cash.

This is way too important an issue for the mainstream media to decide on their political narrative and just push it instead of discussing the actual facts. 

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