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Don’t get too excited

I do think that, even for Trump, gravity exists and really at some point, the catastrophe that is his presidency will be noticed among even Republicans and he will fall in popularity down to a more appropriate level.  But for now, DJT Jr and all this Russian stuff and whatever else might as well be liberal fake news.  A tweet from Patrick Egan:

So, when will it move.  When GOP elites begin to make more than the most tepid “not sure that was appropriate” criticisms of his abominable behavior.  As long, however, as they are so sadly willing to be apologists for things like his campaign (attempting to) conspire with the Russian government, Trump’s approval won’t really go anywhere.  At this point, one might wonder what it would take for GOP politicians to actually come out forcefully against Trump.  Maybe it’s after they get their tax cuts through.  And, my guess is that there’s a decent chance Trump’s closet has a skeleton truly ugly enough to actually break through.

Regardless, this is a key dynamic right now– elected GOP elites continue to support Trump and GOP voters continue to support Trump.  Until that first part changes, don’t expect much of the latter.

But what about Hillary

Apparently the latest from Trump, Hannity, and company is to try and deflect with some whataboutism by claiming Hillary did the same thing with Ukraine.  She didn’t.  Anyway, inspired a very nice piece from Tomasky.  It concludes:

I’m sure that like me, you wake up some mornings and don’t know whether to be enraged or depressed or amused, or you hear the words “President Trump” on the radio and still sometimes wonder how the $@&# did that happen? Well imagine how Hillary feels. She was the target of the biggest coordinated campaign attack, stretching from the Kremlin to Julian Assange’s sitting room, in the history of American politics. She got zonked by Jim Comey 11 days before the election in a move that was totally without precedent in the history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. And both of these after a quarter-century smear campaign that alleged everything up to and including murder but that never actually proved—and I mean proved, not “proved” to the satisfaction of millions of people who’d been worked into a state of rage against her over two decades—a single thing of importance that she did that was wrong or unethical. And still she got 3 million more votes.

Three emails marked classified on her server. Three. About things like talking points for a call with the president of Malawi. And two of those may have been marked in error. And that was her great crime? For that, we have to live through this?

She’s the most royally screwed-over person in the history of American politics. She should be in the White House, right now. And she’d have been good. Maybe not great. They wouldn’t allow that. We’d be having impeachment hearings underway already, I assure you, over far smaller matters than the things we know the Trump family has done. That would be rough, but  I know this much: She wouldn’t be suddenly discovering that health care is complicated, she wouldn’t have her son-in-law on the White House staff and in charge of Middle East peace, and she wouldn’t be an international embarrassment. The free nations of the world wouldn’t be trying to find ways to work around the United States of America.

That Trump is sitting in that office and not her is a tragedy. And what are we to do if, someday, we learn it was also a crime?

Senate health care bill: bad for humans

Or, as Ezra Klein so wonderfully put it: “The new Senate health bill is terrible for anyone who is sick, has been sick, or will be sick.”  The sad truth is, that many conservative Republicans simply hate the protection for pre-existing conditions.  Seriously.  It’s like some sick, twisted worldview where healthy people are virtuous and only unvirtuous people get health problems before age 65.  Ezra explains how this plan would very likely destroy protections for pre-existing conditions even while superficially pretending it didn’t:

Included in the new bill is a version of Ted Cruz’s amendment allowing insurers to offer plans that don’t comply with Obamacare’s insurance regulations so long as they also offer plans that do comply with Obamacare’s insurance regulations.

So imagine you’re an insurer. As long as you offer some Obamacare compliant plans, you can also offer plans that deny people coverage for preexisting conditions, that don’t cover mental health benefits or pregnancy.

What will happen here is clear: The plans that have to offer decent coverage to anyone who wants it, no matter their health care history, will become a magnet for the old and the sick or the soon-to-be-sick, as they can’t afford, or perhaps can’t even buy, the other plans. That will drive premiums in those plans up, pulling younger, healthier people into the non-compliant plans.

The Senate bill thinks it has a fix: a roughly $200 billion fund to offset the costs of sick enrollees. So, in short, what the GOP bill attempts to do is to rebrand high-risk pools as Obamacare plans and make them subsidized dumping grounds for the sick and the old, while everyone else buys insurance in a basically unregulated market.

This is a very bad idea for anyone who is sick, has been sick, or is likely to get sick. It attacks the core changes Obamacare made to build insurance markets that serve the sick, the well, and, crucially, everyone in between.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, insurers in the individual market worked to sign up healthier people and avoid sicker people. They did this in ways that were crude, like simply refusing to insure people with preexisting conditions, and ways that were subtler, like designing plans that made sense for the healthy but didn’t cover key services needed by the sick.

The Affordable Care Act ended all that. It standardized the benefits insurers had to offer, so they couldn’t design plans that didn’t work for the sick, and barred them from turning the sick away, or charging them more.

The BCRA reverts individual health insurance markets to their pre-Obamacare days. Under this legislation, an insurer who had some Obamacare-compliant plans could also craft plans that were, say, great for 30-year-olds with a low risk of cardiovascular disease, but terrible for 53-year-olds with high blood pressure and cholesterol, or that simply denied coverage to anyone over age 60 with a history of health problems.

The GOP’s answer to this problem is to try to quarantine sicker people off to the side in subsidized plans. But sickness is not a binary state. Yes, the sickest people, the ones who need health insurance most, will do whatever is necessary to get insurance, and the high-risk plans might work for them. But what about young women who insurers consider demographically likely to be pregnant in a few years? They’re not sick enough to be willing to pay the exorbitant premiums of the high-risk plans, but they’re also going to be up-charged by insurers scared of their future costs.

Or how about the 42-year-olds who aren’t sick now, but had health scares in the past? To insurers, they might be basically uninsurable outside a high-risk pool. But to the healthy-feeling 42-year-old, the cost of the high-risk pool may be exorbitant. And so they go uninsured, and then disaster hits. [emphasis mine\

Of course in Ted Cruz’s world, you probably did something to deserve that medical disaster.  It is truly amazing and stunning that people with such narrow and warped views of the world hold the keys to health care policy in our country.

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