Wednesday, June 7, 2017
I would like to thank the Hood River teachers who traveled all the way to our nation’s capitol to support PE. I look forward to the day when our entire school district works just as vigorously to provide academic excellence in our classrooms.
The AHCA bill passed by the House would reduce Medicaid payments by $834 billion and premium support by $276 billion. Taking these dollars out of our healthcare system will hurt people in the 2nd District.
The CBO projects that 23 million people, including 100,000 in the Walden’s District, will lose health insurance. Changes in allowed age rating would drive up premiums for older, low-income people by up to 850 percent. Many people in our higher cost rural counties will find insurance unaffordable.
Allowing states to waive requiring insurers to cover benefits like maternity, addiction treatment and prescription drug coverage will lower premiums for some, but drive up costs for others. Maternity and addiction treatment will be out of reach for some losing coverage from Medicaid.
Promises of lower premiums are illusory. The AHCA does nothing to lower the costs of providing healthcare. Reducing the “average” premium simply means that older people with higher premiums have been driven out of the market and that plans are cheaper because they no longer cover needed benefits.
The CBO forecasts that allowing states to end protections for people with pre-existing conditions will lead to market instability that returns us to the days when people are unable to find insurance or forced into underfunded high risk pools.
The AHCA is about shrinking government in order to cut taxes for the wealthy. It fails to provide better healthcare to those who need it most. Rather than continuing to chase the impossible promise to cut taxes, lower premiums and provide better healthcare, Congress should make needed short-term fixes to stabilize rural markets while rethinking our dysfunctional healthcare system.
Waldencare already hurting
Mr. Walden, what will you do to help us here in this rural district so that we don’t lose our access to healthcare, now that your terrible “healthcare” proposal is producing damaging effects in rural areas around the country?
The threat that Obamacare will be dismantled or radically changed has persuaded several big insurance companies to stop selling policies or significantly raise premium costs. In places like Iowa, Nebraska and Tennessee, companies such as Aetna and Wellmark are asking state regulators for permission to raise premiums by as much as 53 percent.
Iowa, Nebraska and Tennessee are largely rural. Our district, i.e. YOUR district, Mr. Walden, is largely rural. People in rural areas, where there are fewer potential customers and where it is harder to put together networks of hospitals and doctors, are the ones being hurt first, even before your disastrous “healthcare” proposal wends its way through Senate scrutiny. Mr. Walden, is this how you represent our interests? We can’t afford any more of this kind of representation.
Tax cut for rich
Republican lawmakers and Donald Trump repeatedly regurgitate talking points exclaiming the imminent failure of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). They omit the fact that this happening largely by their own design, not necessarily because of the act itself.
After eight years of repeated attempts to negate the law, which undermined confidence in its durability, they are resorting to sabotage to further the passage of their own Repeal and Replace (Trumpcare). While problems with the ACA could have been addressed and weren't, the economic uncertainty created by Republicans, and our own Representative Walden, adversely affected the insurance industry's confidence in the market, and therefore the exchanges. Recently, Trump signed an executive order prohibiting enforcement of the penalty for not buying insurance, a funding mechanism to bring healthier consumers into the pool. He is delaying government subsidies. He also pulled the advertising for the exchanges during open enrolment so fewer people understood the deadlines. All this equals fewer sign ups and less money to insurers, resulting in higher rates.
Current GOP legislation would cut private insurance and Medicaid subsidies indirectly flowing to the insurance companies. Again, this amounts to less money to insurers, a threat to rural hospitals, fewer insured and higher rates. No wonder insurance companies are pulling out of the exchanges.
In addition, Republicans have blocked the ability of Medicare to negotiate drug prices. When Congress expanded Medicare to cover prescription drugs in 2003, and they controlled all three branches of government, they included a gift to drug companies that specifically prohibited negotiating drug prices. Drug prices regularly outstrip inflation, rising nearly 10 percent in each of the last three years. Curiously, the VA is allowed to negotiate.
The current Walden designed Trumpcare offering is not much more than a tax cut for the wealthy; cuts that go almost entirely to the highest earning households, while providing little or no benefit to the bottom 80 percent. It allows a dizzying array of options for states, further thwarting any economies of scale. The congressional budget office estimates 23 million people will lose insurance. This is not any kind of healthcare.
In past years, I have been somewhat known for my letters to the editor. However, I have not written a single word about Donald Trump, simply because I don’t even know where to start.
But I would like to share a letter from an English friend following the Manchester bombing. Much of his family lives there. He asked me not to use his name because he doesn’t want to be arrested and interrogated the next time he flies in to JFK. Here is his letter:
“Yes, it’s a grim time for Manchester — and one can never be certain where all our relatives and friends are immediately after an event such as this. But daughter Phoebe, my brother and wife and kids up there are all safe. A doctor colleague of Phoebe’s had been at the concert and was quite traumatized as she had to help triage and save as many badly wounded teenagers as possible. There had just that day been the start of a backlash against Teresa May and her nasty divisive policies ... and that’s now drowned out. Brexit still makes my blood boil.
“As for your charming, demure Leader ... he is truly, truly extraordinary. What joy it is to behold someone in such high office endowed with such a brilliant brain. His every utterance and Tweet gives us hope for a wonderful, peaceful future. Sadly, it seems unlikely that not everyone shares his views and there is a reasonable possibility that his joyous attempts at friendly advice to leading law enforcers may mean that early retirement is a tearful possibility — a tragedy that only his stoic VP might regard as good news. I am concerned this may also upset a particular foreign government who thought they had bought a time share in Washington ... just when they had been in to measure the carpets and sort out those pesky bugs in the Oval Office!”
I feel I need to correct the misunderstanding that many have, including Bobbi Reisner, who said in her letter of May 27 that California and New York have the most say so about electing a president. That is not true, nor is the number of electors actually found in the U.S. Constitution. Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution reads: “The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the state of New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three." The use of elector votes was agreed upon as a compromise when some of the authors of our constitution wanted the president voted on by congress and others wanted the popular vote.
The number of representatives with full voting rights is 435, a number set by Public Law 62-5 on August 8, 1911, and in effect since 1913 — not the US Constitution. Public Law 62-5 states, “The number of representatives per state is proportionate to population.” That isn’t happening. It seems that the electoral college distorts the vote and it is only going to get worse. Wyoming, New Hampshire, Alaska and North Dakota have the most clout in electing a president while California, Texas, Florida and New York have the weakest votes. One electoral vote in Wyoming is worth 3.6 times one cast in California. Wyoming has 195,369 for every electoral vote, while a Texan has one electoral vote for every 722,871 persons, California has 711,724 per every electoral vote, Oregon has one for every 575,568 and Washington has one for every 597,529, in comparison to Rhode Island, which has one for every 264,074 and Alaska which has three total worth 246,144 each.
The Eternal Watch
I wanted to take a moment and thank the community members that attended the memorial service in Idlewild Cemetery on May 29, and a "hats off" to Bob Huskey and the American Legion, the Hood River band and all that spoke to the gathered crowd.
One small correction (to May 31 Hood River News article) if you don't mind. I am not a U.S. Marine, but a retired Sergeant Major from the United States Army with 23 years of service. The maroon beret that I was wearing in honor of SPC Lars Chew (KIA Iraq 1991), is the beret of the 3rd Battalion, 325th Parachute Infantry Regiment when we were assigned to Vicencza, Italy.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has always been guarded by the Army (since 1927). I would be more than happy to do a public presentation about the Tomb, the Unknown Soldiers, and the sentinels that stand the eternal watch so that our community can learn more about this nation’s history.
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Planet Fly at Pfriem
The band Planet Fly plays at Pfriem in an outdoor concert. Enlarge