HEALTHCARE IS COMPLICATED

Trump Unqualified as Insurance Czar

The House of Representatives’ poorly written healthcare act is very much like a guy with a hangover eating a habanero pepper omelet the next day. Crap in, crap out.

They might claim that it’s the hair of the dog, but in reality, it was just what they shouldn’t have done. When the House narrowly passed the American Healthcare Act on May 4, 2017 (by only two votes), with 20 Republicans voting against the bill, the Donald played right into Democratic hands.

And here is why:

  1. The GOP accused Democrats of not reading the Obamacare act before they voted on it. Trump forced his party members to do the same thing and thus sabotaged those running in 2018. We must remember the 213 Representatives who voted NO on this one.
  2. The de facto party leader, Donald Trump, said that everyone would get coverage and that pre-existing conditions would be covered, while the same leader let the Freedom Caucus roll him and agree to the deal for a state opt-out for insurance companies.
  3. House members made it seem that they were either expecting their older “brother” the Senate to fix their work or, worse, they were just appeasing Trump and showing that they have more division within their party. I used the word “brother” on this one because the committee writing the Senate version of the bill consists of 13 men. Why?

We are hearing lots of talk about Healthcare and Insurance companies. The typical gripe on Obamacare is that there are so few insurance companies in certain states.

Why doesn’t anyone on TV talk about the efforts of state insurance commissioners? Some have blocked the expansion of companies into their States. For example, many people don’t know that it took GEICO many years to get into the Massachusetts market. WHY? Well, the large insurance companies based in Boston blocked any insurance companies that offered what was defined as “discounted” insurance. Boy, that is restrictive. That has since been resolved, but it begs a bigger question.

Why would the President keep rotating that hackneyed phrase that he believes in  states’ rights and wants to give the states more control over Health Insurance? Once you give the states MORE control over healthcare, why even have a national healthcare act? And when all the states raise taxes the President might think he won’t get blamed, but he should think again and stop listening to people like Steve Bannon.

Because of Obamacare, we are no longer debating that there should be a national healthcare plan.  We are now just debating what it should be and who should pay for it. But when the first person with a pre-existing condition dies, Donald Trump and the Republican party will have blood on their hands. That Republican lie about death panels will then be rolled out by the Democrats. Only this time people will believe it.

With all the companies Donald Trump ran in his past life, we are sure that he heard debates about healthcare for his employees. His involvement was probably tertiary with him; either telling someone to do business with someone’s company he liked, or just saying get the price down.

Now, we have Tom Price running around and saying repeatedly how great the plan is, while never addressing any questions. His presentation, like those of most Trump underlings, is just a mini campaign-like speech fraught with fact-free slogans and fallacies. Is it because he doesn’t know what he is talking about, or is it a case of specifics left out so no mistakes are made?

Anyone running a business would ask a few questions before voting on a plan. The first is how much will this cost? The second is what does it do for my workforce? I remember that middle-class rationality of how it would be great to have a “real” businessman run the government.  Well, where can we get one? Or, better yet, where can we get a real businesswoman?

Donald Trump has admitted that healthcare is complicated. Obama once opened an explanation with a remark on how complicated the subject was and Jon Stewart called him out. Stewart challenged Obama by forcefully explaining that it’s the President’s job to help us understand complicated matters.

Let’s face it, a simple man cannot grasp the complexities of things and then turn them into a well-thought-out plan. Trump does hate, sarcasm and bullying well, but on the mattes of state, he’s clumsy and foolish. Sad!


STATES’ RIGHTS VS. DONALD TRUMP

Power Delegated is Power Lost

Most administrations in this great land of the United States have juggled the temptation to take power away from the states with the more conservative viewpoint that states should decide what is right for their people. Attempting to keep both balls in the air has brought tons of law suits and taxed the Department of Justice with major decisions and minor peccadillos.

Donald Trump has fallen into the trap quite nicely. His red meat rhetoric that he throws to the hungry masses will actually reduce some of his ability to get things done. He obviously doesn’t understand that the enumerated powers of Congress listed in the Tenth Amendment are not his powers, they are Congressional muscle.

And if you actually read that amendment, you will see that it is very clear: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Focus on that last phrase, Powers that are reserved to the people. When Donald Trump wants to fix healthcare by giving the states more power to determine how it works and what can or cannot be done, he diminishes the power of the President and the federal programs he promised to improve to help people.

In the latest aberration of the Healthcare re-write, the compromisers have slipped a little stick of dynamite into the paragraphs. They are proposing to give a state the right to charge more for those who have pre-existing conditions. Wow, really? If a guy walks in with cancer, you can tax him just like a pharmaceutical company. Who the hell are these people?

With 4-20-2017 now just purple haze in the rearview mirror, we find another conflict looming on the horizon: the right of a state to regulate the growing and sales of marijuana. In Colorado, marijuana tax revenue hit $200 million and sales are set to pass $1 billion this year. What was once a judicial, social and medical over-reach has been turned into a windfall for the mountain state. Even college scholarship programs are being funded out of these taxes and revenues.

When our government was taken over by goodie-two-shoes in the 1920s, the religious right created a constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages that remained in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban didn’t stop people from making, buying or drinking alcohol.  It just made America a dull place for 13 years. Finally, FDR decided that people should have a legal way to let off some steam.

Now some out-of-touch people in power want to take federal legal action against those states that have taken medical and recreational marijuana reform to the bank. The new Attorney General knows best about what marijuana is because he most likely has never smoked marijuana. Donald Trump has said he has never smoked pot or cigarettes and of course, he would be best to judge what smoking cannabis does. Full on irony here, folks.

When you say you want to give more power to the states, but you are selective in how you apply that philosophy, you create confusion. Just like when you ignore scientists’ evaluations on climate change, you seem out of touch. When you disregard the medical evidence that marijuana can help people, you are like those people back 100 years ago who thought they could defeat alcoholism by controlling everyone. The myths created about marijuana are slowly going up in smoke.

Some polls put the support for national legalization at 61%. That is clearly more people than who voted for Trump. Even Canada has taken the move to legalize the herb. What are we waiting for?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on a radio interview, “I am really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.”

Back at you Jeff, I really am amazed that a non-elected cabinet member from a state that doesn’t even have a lottery gets to decide how a state handles its medical and recreational use of certain natural plants.

What we really need is for all those who have a vote on marijuana at the federal level to fire up a doobie and relax. It’s not ‘oxy’ or heroin. Keep your eye on the important stuff.

 

 

 

 


BLINDED BY THE LIGHT

The Mandate Trump Never Saw Coming

By all accounts, Donald J. Trump doesn’t seem like a dim bulb, but the light of his own ego blinds him to the clever ideas he might have.

The debacle of March 24, 2017 may have been a little late for the Ides of March, but the fact that the Republican majority in the House couldn’t ramrod a Frankenstein healthcare bill, might demonstrate they are paying attention. Had they passed that bill, the ill effects would have determined the outcome of the 2018 elections.

Trump seems to be bumping into walls in the dead of night. Wearing his ill-fitting bathrobe, he cannot even comprehend, as he puts it, the strange procedures and rules of the House of Representatives. Did they not teach civics at the Wharton School of Business? Penn graduates are embarrassed everywhere.

And then, the leader of the free (but not free trade) world says this, “We had no Democrat support. They weren’t going to give us a single vote so it’s a very difficult thing to do,” He then added, “I’ve been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is to let Obamacare explode.”

Let’s review for the folks at home. In the 115th Congress, the House has 237 Republicans and only 193 Democrats. Even with 5 vacancies currently, a fifth grader can see the Republicans have the majority. That is 44 more members and surely, they could get any bill passed in their chamber. Not so fast. The Republicans stand on states’ rights and anti-mandate is to their detriment.

Trump seems to think his role is to win, rather than lead. There is no responsible governance in what he says when he fails. He first looks to blame a someone or something rather than solve a problem. How did this man do well in business? Oh that’s right, he owned the business. There was no one there to dock his pay or fire him when he did poorly.

Any good business person knows you never kill a revenue source. Even if the product the people are buying is not the state of the art version, you want to keep them as customers until you can upsell them into the next version. This means that Trump, if we want to give him some credit, might be thinking that the revenue from the 20 million new insured Americans might be a good thing. Too much credit?

The one thing that Republicans wanted most to scratch in the Affordable Healthcare Act was the mandate. They associated the mandate with the big bad, evil government being involved in healthcare. Wait, that is simply a tax. If everyone signed up for healthcare and the system took on a more universal approach, there would be more revenue. If all the states would have all gotten on the bandwagon and promoted Obamacare, we would be better off now.  

When red states balked at the exchanges for ideological reasons, they were throwing money away. Let’s see, where is Bobby Jindal today? He left his state healthcare system in shambles coming in dead last in most categories except premature death where Louisiana was 47th out of 50 States.

The good idea that Trump kept telling us about at those big loud rallies was creating a marketplace of more competition in order to lower prices. Increasing costs is one of the debate points people raised saying Obamacare is bad. Trump knows better than anyone that a monopoly in a segment leads to higher prices. That’s why he wanted to get Native Americans out of the casino business.

With a little bit of smart legislation, Trump could cure what ails the AHA right now. All he would have to do is to convince Congress to pass a law saying that states do not control which insurance companies operate in their domains. In a sense, this would be no different than Congress giving Major League Baseball a mandate to operate across state lines without worry about the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887.

Why not write an exception for healthcare providers right now, so that some of the more aggressive players could come into states like Alabama where there is only one provider now? But that would mean Trump would have to convince Congress to pass something. I thought he was the deal maker? Turn out the lights Donald, the party is over.

It’s right there in front of Trump and he doesn’t see it. He wants to win and have everyone kiss is ass instead of coming up with solutions that would help Americans now. We have said it many times and will keep saying it, the President has the wrong people around him. Sad!

 


The Difference Between Business and Government

Trump’s Assumptions Are Wrong

During the Presidential campaign, we heard the mantra that massaged the maxim into the minds of the under-employed middle class saying what we needed was a great businessman to cure what ails America.

When the Trump loyal followers are questioned about why their man is right for our country, they will always talk about his business success. That was the same argument they made for Mitt Romney in 2012. And this opens the door for a mature discussion about the difference between the two.

First, let’s think about the gap between a privately-owned company and a publicly traded company. In a privately held company, the owner can do what they want. They can shout out orders and fire those who don’t get the job done. At the end of the year the only person they must face is themselves in the mirror. Did they make money or did they lose money?

In a publicly traded company, the top dog has to answer to investors and their board, or cabinet, as elected by those stockholders. The term fiduciary duty refers in general to the highest standard of care. A fiduciary owes his allegiance to the beneficiary of his or her endeavors. If an individual breaches the fiduciary duties, he or she would need to account for the ill-gotten profit or misdeeds in office.

In a sense, the President of the United States is the head of a large company, but that analogy only goes so far. The Congress is certainly who the president must deal with to get money to run the country. The President does not have the power to unilaterally decide what money goes where. The final budget must be approved by Congress. Since the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act was in fact a tax on citizens, the changes that take place in that Act must be voted on by Congress.

What Trump and many of his voters don’t understand is that the he has more than just those who voted for him to take care of. All the citizens are stockholders of this country and his actions must consider the ramifications for all Americans, not just his screaming fans.

His assumption that he can just bully his way in and demand that Congress do what he says is wrong. There are factions of fractions and within Trump’s own party; splinter groups and lobby-controlled partisans who care only about THEIR money and THEIR re-election. Trump should think of his own hostile takeover of the Republican party and realize that at any time there will be powerful groups like the House Freedom Caucus that can stop anything in its tracks; including Mr. Know-It-All President.

Here they are: Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Chair, Justin Amash of Michigan, Brian Babin of Texas, Rod Blum of Iowa, Dave Brat of Virginia, Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Ken Buck of Colorado, Warren Davidson of Ohio, Ron DeSantis of Florida, Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Trent Franks of Arizona, Tom Garrett Jr. of Virginia, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Morgan Griffith of Virginia, Andy Harris of Maryland, Jody Hice of Georgia, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Raúl Labrador of Idaho, Alex Mooney of West Virginia, Gary Palmer of Alabama, Steve Pearce of New Mexico, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Ted Poe of Texas, Bill Posey of Florida, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, David Schweikert of Arizona, Randy Weber of Texas, and Ted Yoho of Florida. These people are the real problem for President Trump because they gave him a standing ovation before the big meeting, then told him they wanted Obamacare gone, period. If you voted for them, how do you feel now?

In business, the nimble companies that get things done quickly, even with a few mistakes along the way, can own a market segment and dominate competition. With the US government, our competition seems to be gridlock, not party affiliation. Trump says vote now and if you say ‘NO’ he will just move on to something else. Boy, that sounds like avoidance not fight.

Why did he pick the hardest thing to do first? Why doesn’t he stop wasting time, energy and breath on tweets and start to figure out what he should keep his eye on is the bird feeder. The voters – stockholders – will want a return on their investment. So far, he’s still in hostile takeover mode. YOU OWN THE COMPANY, run it and stop with this “it’s all about me” syndrome. It’s not about you at all. Sad!

 

 


The Simple Truth About Donald Trump

Who gave him the keys to the car?

According to the NHTSA, the average percentage of DUI repeat offenders is 30%. There is someone killed every 52-minutes in America due to a vehicle accident where alcohol was involved. NBC’s Today provided this stat: The FBI says that every day almost 300,000 people drive drunk, yet only 4,000 are caught by police.

That means thousands of people are behind the wheel at any time who can put you and your loved ones in danger. We have someone at the wheel who is putting America in danger every day and someone must pull him over.

After the brief time Donald J. Trump has been in office, we have seen some rather bizarre actions, Orwellian use of language and the unfettered use of social media to embarrass himself and our great country.

As we have suggested on these pages before, someone should be controlling both the official POTUS tweeter feed and the personal @realDonaldTrump page. Once Trump became President, those sites became official government conduits for establishing administrative policy. Each tweet is a legal US document.

With every fabrication Mr. Know-it-all transmits to the world, the United States of America becomes a little smaller and petty in the eyes of the other world leaders. Mr. Trump, to be politically incorrect, the whole world is laughing at you (and not in a good way).

When both the head of the FBI and the head of the NSA both testify to Congress that there is no proof the Obama administration wire-tapped your phones, you couldn’t let it be, you had to tweet into the hearing more untruths.

Like the guy at the bar who has all the confidence in the world that he can drive home after countless doubles, no one on your team has the balls to take the keys away from you. Your power-hunger ego won’t really allow anyone in your inner circle to at least ask, Is this a good idea?

You’ve ended up in the ditch many nights Mr. President and maybe that is your lame justification for free-base tweeting at all hours of the night. Well, at least I didn’t kill anyone. And even when someone does get killed, you use your account to placate your own self-esteem rather than consider how your words can hurt.

Less than half of the American voters gave you the new car. They are still giving you permission to do things they don’t even know will hurt them dearly, soon. What happens when your blind sighted healthcare bill takes medical access away from all those coal miners in West Virginia? What will your “fans” think of you when those premiums and deductibles actually go up, not down as you have promised? And your claim that everyone will be covered is a bold faced lie that is worse than Obama’s pronouncement that you can keep your doctor.

Your press secretary is the punchline in a visual joke and no one sees Sean anymore; they see Melissa McCarthy’s rage and satire. The fact that you program him to say things like Mike Flynn was a volunteer in your campaign to lessen the guilt-by-association for his Russian engagement cover-up is all on your Mr. President. I even see SNL sketches in my mind rather than a real president. For such a “bad show” they have certainly repositioned you as the fool.

You have failed the Breathalyzer test so many times it’s not funny. You have also not been able to walk a straight-line with the American people. Why don’t you try to just tell the truth? Maybe Bernie Sanders is right. You just might be that pathological liar he described.

We would ask for the results of your blood test, but we would rather see your income tax returns for the last 4 years. Get off the road and get some help, Trump, before someone gets killed. Or you start that war you kept telling us Hillary would create. You are unfit to hold the office, Sir. Sad!

 


Leadership and Lies

Trump’s Legislative Disconnection

We all know that most Presidents send well-thought out messages to Congress that they are expected to make into some kind of legislation. Those ideas are then whittled and worked into a proper bill, voted on by both houses and then sent back as a finished bill or act for the President to sign.

The messaging coming from this Commander-In-Hype is based on pure generalizations instead of any well thought out plan with details and the ramifications of those details.

Let’s review what Trump has foamed:

“Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”

“Obamacare. We’re going to repeal it, we’re going to replace it, get something great. Repeal it, replace it, get something great!”

“There’s many different ways, by the way. Everybody’s got to be covered. This is an un-Republican thing for me to say because a lot of times they say, ‘No, no, the lower 25 percent that can’t afford private’… I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”

So, Donald Trump says he will take care of everybody. It won’t cost you votes Donald, it will cost us MONEY. He endorsed this first draft of a healthcare reform presented by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan yesterday March 7, 2017. It is clear, that by letting Congress take away the mandate, not everyone will be covered. In fact, they will be throwing millions off the insurance rolls. FACT.

Mr. Know-It-All, healthcare is as complicated as the number of possible ailments and conditions in the medical universe. It seems that most people who, have had to deal with doctors, hospitals and insurance companies already know this. You wouldn’t construct a building without detailed plans, Mr. President, so why would you build a healthcare system for America without a certain blue print? Cost, can we have the cost?

Next, “something great” is what a used car salesman says when you walk onto his lot. Stop hyping things you haven’t even read. And one should note, even if he read the document, as I did yesterday, he would not even know what it says. It is a construct in legislative form, thus incomprehensible to any mere mortal.

When you say, your new plan will be “very popular” you reveal more of your own personal litmus test for everything rather defining a good plan. A good plan should be fair, affordable and lower the cost by inserting enough preventative benefits to keep people out of the hospital and on the job.

The net result of all these layered lies from Trump is that what he imagines the healthcare act to be, is nothing like it will be. And you can write this down, people will end up paying more. There is nothing in there to control costs of doctors, medical professionals or prescriptions. FACT!

No one should fall for this vague notion that the proposed law will increase competition, thus lowering prices. Competition is going away, not because of Obamacare, but because hospitals, insurance and pharm companies are making so much money they are eating up the small companies and creating vast-almost monopolies. There is nothing in the proposed law to stop mergers and impose regional controls. Many states, like Massachusetts and Alabama have strict rules about which insurance companies can operate in their domains. The states will be more powerful with this reform.

And now to the fat-white elephant in the room: Planned Parenthood received $528 million last year from the Federal Government and served and treated, from their 56 independent local affiliates that operate nearly 650 health centers, more than 2.5 million women. We can defund this institution and give the money to other women’s centers, but what happens when the patient really needs help and an abortion is their only option? Do those new “approved by the government” centers send those women back to Planned Parenthood? Women have abortions and all those men in the Congress have probably paid for one somewhere along the line.

So much for the government getting out of telling you want to do. This new flawed document puts the government just as much in your face as Obamacare. From making it a law that married people MUST file joint returns, to limiting the monthly amount one gets, this is far from fair. If you are under 30-years of age, you only get $166 to spend on whatever ailment you have. Hope you don’t get cancer.

By sending the responsibilities of providing healthcare back to the states, Trump and the feckless legislators can go back to their fans and say, we promised it, we did it. All the while, those same Representatives and Senators will enjoy the high-end healthcare that we, the people, pay for. And then, the states will have to add more taxes on gas, goods and services. Just like the middle class will pay for the damn wall.

The real truth, this is not a reform of a healthcare act, it’s just those people trying to take Obama’s name off of something they didn’t contribute to the first time. Let’s put a name and face on this one, it’s TRUMPCARE 1.0 and when it makes you pay more, you’ll know who to blame this time.