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By Angela Hart
California would have to find an additional $200 billion per year, including in new tax revenues, to create a so-called “single-payer” system, the analysis by the Senate Appropriations Committee found. The estimate assumes the state would retain the existing $200 billion in local, state and federal funding it currently receives to offset the total $400 billion price tag.
The cost analysis is seen as the biggest hurdle to creating a universal system, proposed by Sens. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.
It remains a long-shot bid. Steep projected costs have derailed efforts over the past two decades to establish such a health care system in California. The cost is higher than the $180 billion in proposed general fund and special fund spending for the budget year beginning July 1.
Employers currently spend between $100 billion to $150 billion per year, which could be available to help offset total costs, according to the analysis. Under that scenario, total new spending to implement the system would be between $50 billion and $100 billion per year.
“Health care spending is growing faster than the overall economy … yet we do not have better health outcomes and we cover fewer people,” Lara said at Monday’s appropriations hearing. “Given this picture of increasing costs, health care inefficiencies and the uncertainty created by Congress, it is critical that California chart our own path.”
The idea behind Senate Bill 562 is to overhaul California’s insurance marketplace, reduce overall health care costs and expand coverage to everyone in the state regardless of immigration status or ability to pay. Instead of private insurers, state government would be the “single payer” for everyone’s health care through a new payroll taxing structure, similar to the way Medicare operates.
Lara and Atkins say they are driven by the belief that health care is a human right and should be guaranteed to everyone, similar to public services like safe roads and clean drinking water. They seek to rein in rising health care costs by lowering administrative expenses, reducing expensive emergency room visits, and eliminating insurance company profits and executive salaries.
In addition to covering undocumented people, Lara said the goal is to expand health access to people who, even with insurance, may skip doctor visits or stretch out medications due to high copays and deductibles.
“Doctors and hospitals would no longer need to negotiate rates and deal with insurance companies to seek reimbursement,” Lara said.
Insurance groups, health plans and Kaiser Permanente are against the bill. Industry representatives say California should focus on improving the Affordable Care Act. Business groups, including the California Chamber of Commerce, have deemed the bill a “job-killer.”
“A single-payer system is massively, if not prohibitively expensive,” said Nick Louizos, vice president of legislative affairs for the California Association of Health Plans.
“It will cost employers and taxpayers billions of dollars and result in significant loss of jobs in the state,” the Chamber of Commerce said in its opposition letter.
Underlying the debate is uncertainty at the federal level over what President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress will do with Obamacare. The House Republican bill advanced earlier this month would dismantle it by removing its foundation – the individual mandate that requires everyone to have coverage or pay a tax penalty.
Republican-led efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare is fueling political support for the bill, Atkins said at a universal health care rally this past weekend in Sacramento hosted by the California Nurses Association, a co-sponsor.
“This is a high-ticket expense … We have to figure out how to cover everyone and work on addressing the costs in the long-term – that’s our challenge,” Atkins said. “I’m optimistic.”
The bill has to get approval on the Senate floor by June 2 to advance to the Assembly. A financing plan is underway, which could suggest diverting money employers pay for workers’ compensation insurance to a state-run coverage system.
Lara said he believes California can and should play a prominent role in improving people’s lives.
“We can do better,” he said.
By Billy House
House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn’t yet sent the bill to the Senate because there’s a chance that parts of it may need to be redone, depending on how the Congressional Budget Office estimates its effects. House leaders want to make sure the bill conforms with Senate rules for reconciliation, a mechanism that allows Senate Republicans to pass the bill with a simple majority.
Republicans had rushed to vote on the health bill so the Senate could get a quick start on it, even before the CBO had finished analyzing a series of last-minute changes. The CBO is expected to release an updated estimate next week.
“Unaware,” said Representative Jeff Denham of California, with noticeable surprise Thursday, when advised that his party leaders still hadn’t sent the bill over to the Senate. Denham was one of the House Republicans who ended up voting for the measure, after earlier in the week opposing it.
“I am on the whip team and we have a lot of conversations, but we have not had that one. So I am going to look into it,” said Denham, a member of the party’s vote-counting team.
One senior GOP aide downplayed any concern over the potential trouble from the CBO report, depicting it as hypothetical, and saying that leaders will cross that bridge if they need to.
According to several aides and other procedural experts, if Republicans send the bill to the Senate now and the CBO later concludes it doesn’t save at least $2 billion, it would doom the bill and Republicans would have to start their repeal effort all over with a new budget resolution. Congressional rules would likely prevent Republicans from fixing the bill after it’s in the Senate, the aides said.
If Republican leaders hold onto the bill until the CBO report is released, then Ryan and his team could still redo it if necessary. That would require at least one more House vote of some sort.
That vote could be cloaked in some kind of arcane procedural move, but it would still be depicted as a proxy for yet another vote on the same bill — and reluctant Republicans will once again be forced to decide whether to back it. Only this time, they would also be saddled with the CBO’s latest findings about the bill’s costs and impacts.
Republicans had a sizable deficit reduction cushion — $150 billion — before several amendments were added to the bill at the last minute, including changes allowing states to legalize much skimpier health insurance plans.
It’s unclear what assumptions the CBO will make about what states will do with that newly created flexibility. If millions of people sign up for much cheaper, minimal insurance, that could trigger billions — and potentially even hundreds of billions — in costs over a decade because of the House bill’s health insurance tax credits.
“We’ve got to wait for the CBO score,” said Greg Walden of Oregon, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which authored much of the bill. “To prove that you meet the reconciliation test.”
But other senior Republicans weren’t aware that leaders had been holding onto the bill.
“I had no idea,” Dennis Ross of Florida, another member of the vote-counting team, said Thursday, adding that the prospect of another vote “does concern me.”
GOP leaders never said publicly they were planning to hold on to the bill for two weeks or longer.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Thursday that the delay is further proof that Republicans voted for this bill “before they knew what was in it.”
The speaker and other Republicans urgently pushed their May 4 floor vote, despite a polarized Republican conference, using the frantic final hours to win over holdouts. Even so, 20 Republicans still voted against the bill. After the bill squeaked through, Ryan and other senior Republicans dashed to the White House for an unusual celebration of a one-chamber vote.
That 217-213 tally appeared to be a rare legislative victory for them and President Donald Trump, even if the vote was a difficult one for some rank-and-file House Republicans, who had qualms. Some have since been hit with protests in their districts and anger from constituents.
Now, two weeks later, the American Health Care Act, H.R. 1628, hasn’t been transmitted from the House to the Senate, according to Senate Bill Clerk Sara Schwartzman.
“Republicans who argue that this was an open and transparent process are misleading the American people,” Hoyer said. “If they have to amend the bill next week after they are informed of its effects, then they will have a very difficult time doing so given the fierce backlash over Trumpcare that we’ve seen in the days since passage.”
Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, said in a statement: “As the public heat continues to rise, more and more members are getting scorched for walking the plank for a bill that has no chance of success in the Senate” or may have to be amended.
By Peter Hasson
In one of the most recent incidents, police in Tennessee charged a woman with felony reckless endangerment on Thursday for allegedly trying to run Republican Congressman David Kustoff off the road after a town hall. The woman, Wendi Wright, was reportedly enraged over Kustoff’s support for the American Health Care Act and screamed at the congressman and his aide, striking his car windows and reaching inside the vehicle.
The same day that Tennessee police charged Wright for reckless endangerment, police in North Dakota escorted an enraged man from another town hall after he became physical with Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer over his support for the GOP Obamacare replacement. “Will the rich benefit from, if the health care is destroyed, do the rich get a tax break? Yes or no?” the man shouted, before shoving cash down the congressman’s collar. “There you go, take it.”
CNN’s Poppy Harlow downplayed the incident, saying the man was “showing his disgust” with Cramer.
The day before that, a Huffington Post article that showed “how to really turn up the heat on elected officials” went viral. The author, Michaelangelo Signorile, called on protesters to harass Republicans at dinner, when they’re out shopping and even at home. Societal norms for the basic levels of decency one should afford political opponents, Signorile argued, no longer apply to liberals.
“It’s time to move beyond polite protests within specified boundaries. It’s time to escalate the expression of our outrage and our anger in a massive way,” he wrote. (RELATED: In Their Own Words: Anti-Trump ‘Resistance’ Leaders Say They Want To Make America ‘Ungovernable’)
Starting today and from here on, no elected official ― certainly those in the GOP defending and supporting Trump on a variety of issues, for example ― should be able to sit down for a nice, quiet lunch or dinner in a Washington, DC eatery or even in their own homes. They should be hounded by protestors everywhere, especially in public ― in restaurants, in shopping centers, in their districts, and yes, on the public property outside their homes and apartments, in Washington and back in their home states.
Signorile’s article has already been shared more than 29,000 times.
Political violence has been increasingly common as left-wing organizations have whipped up mobs against Republicans and supporters of the president. (RELATED: Leaked Audio Reveals Anti-Trump Forces Manufacturing Hostile Town Hall)
A popular parade in Portland, Oregon last month was cancelled after threats of violence against one of the groups participating — a local Republican organization.
An email warning parade organizers promised 200 or more protesters would rush into the parade and drag the Republican marchers out, if that’s what it took to keep them from participating. “You have seen how much power we have downtown and that the police cannot stop us from shutting down roads so please consider your decision wisely,” the email warned. Portland has been a site for organized left-wing protests, which have often turned into violent riots. (RELATED: Leader Of Portland Anti-Trump Protests Charged With Sexually Abusing A Minor)
The threat was sent from an email address registered with RiseUp.Net, an organization that is open about “providing communication and computer resources to allies engaged in struggles against capitalism and other forms of oppression.”
The Oregon threat was credible in part because Berkeley, California has become a literal political battlefield on multiple occasions now, after far-left groups have resorted to violence to keep Pro-Trump speakers (or, in one case, free speech marchers who happened to be Trump supporters) from appearing in public.
Pro-Trump speaker Milo Yiannopoulos had his speech at the University of California-Berkeley cancelled after rioters set the campus ablaze in order to keep him from speaking. (RELATED: ‘INFERNO’ — Milo Speech Cancelled After Rioters Set Campus Ablaze [VIDEO])
Political commentator Ann Coulter, who staunchly supported Trump during his presidential campaign, had her speech at UC Berkeley cancelled after the protest groups vowed a repeat performance of the Milo riots. (RELATED: Documents Tie Berkeley Riot Organizers To Pro-Pedophilia Group NAMBLA)
A North Carolina GOP office was even firebombed a month before the election, and a building adjacent to it was spray painted with graffiti: “Nazi Republicans get out of town or else.”
Being a Republican in high school or college is increasingly treacherous — and not just at Berkeley.
Shortly before the election, a female high school student was attacked after declaring her support for Trump. A fellow female student took the girl’s glasses off and punched her in the face, saying, “Fuck you, you bitch.”
Olivia Corn, president of Cornell University’s College Republicans, said she was physically assaulted the night after Trump won the election. “Fuck you, racist bitch, you support a racist party,” her attacker reportedly said. Ironically, Corn said she was “not Donald Trump’s biggest fan,” and added that she “was saddened that I was not afforded the same respect that I offer others.”
A Maryland high school student wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat after the election was punched and kicked by students protesting Trump after he started arguing with them.
Similarly, police in Florida arrested a 17-year-old high school student after he punched a classmate for carrying a Trump sign at school.
“It definitely had a political motivation,” said Lt. Mike Bandish of the Palm Bay Police Department. “The boy was carrying a Trump sign and walked into the gym. The other boy punched him in the face.”
by PENNY STARR12 May 2017
When MacArthur started to tell the story about Gracie, who died two decades ago at age 11, someone yelled “Shame!,” accusing the lawmaker of “using” his daughter’s death to promote his political agenda.
“I will say shame on you right now actually,” MacArthur said. “I’m going to tell you because this affects my perspective on this issue of health care.”
The Congressman offered the “MacArthur amendment” in the GOP bill that now will be taken up by the Senate.
The amendment, in part, offers protections for people with pre-existing conditions and would “create an option for states to obtain Limited Waivers from certain federal standards, in the interest of lowering premium costs and expanding the number of insured persons.”
When MacArthur tried to explain the facts about the health legislation, he was shouted down.
At one point, police were called in to ensure MacArthur’s safety, the ABC-affiliate in New Jersey reported.
Earlier this month, NBC reported on MacAurthur, who worked in the health insurance industry, and the story about his daughter’s health struggles and tragic dealth.
“The two-term moderate, whose district stretches from the Philadelphia suburbs to the Jersey shore, has worked with conservatives to make compromise changes to the once-shelved GOP bill,” NBC reported.
“When asked about his motivation to go out on a limb for the bill, MacArthur hesitated as if he were holding something back,” NBC reported. “Then he cautiously told NBC News that his drive to push the legislation comes from traumatic events in his own family.”
Gracie was the first child born to MacArthur and his wife Debbie. She was born with holoprosencephaly, a rare brain condition. Their daughter was not expected to live but did so. She finally succumbed from complications that included severe seizures when she was 11.
At the time of his daughter’s illness, MacArthur said he had insurance but it did not cover all of her expenses, which totaled more than $1 million, according to NBC.
MacArthur also said when his mother died from cancer when he was a child his family had no insurance and his father worked for years to pay off their medical debt.
He told NBC that his amendment to the health care bill “will help to reduce the cost of insurance because people with high-cost health bills would not be in the private insurance market but instead in a federally- and state-funded high-risk pool, or some other mechanism that states create to cover the more expensive cases” and that that would help drive down costs for healthier people with insurance.
NJ.com reported that New Jersey Citizen Action, which bills itself as a “statewide grassroots organization that fights for economic and social justice,” organized the disruption.
Krauthammer Predicts the United States Will Have a Single Payer System Within Seven Years. Krauthammer spoke to Chris Wallace of Fox News on Thursday and discussed the “success” of the GOP healthcare bill. He predicted, however, that within seven years, the United States “will end up with a single payer system.”
Why Seven Years? He considered this the “midpoint.” “We had seven years of Obamacare,” Krauthammer contended, which produced “a change in expectations. And I would predict that in less than seven years we’ll be in a single payer system.”
Krauthammer Argues Liberals Have Already Won the Battle Over Healthcare. How so? Because of that change in expectation:
“Look at the terms of the debate,” Krauthammer explained. “Republicans are not arguing the free market anymore, they have sorted accepted the fact that the electorate sees healthcare as not just any commodity. It’s not like purchasing a steak or a car. It’s something that pEOple now have a sense that government ought to guarantee.
And because of that, even Republicans are trying to say, ‘oh we’re not gonna lose that many, oh yes you’ll be covered if you have a pre-existing condition.’ The terms of debate are entirely on the grounds of the liberal argument that everybody ought to have insurance.”
The question now is what should government cover, not if government should cover it.
That is why the left has already won.
Whether the healthcare bill passes the Senate or not, Krauthammer contents the United States has officially left the land of the “radical individualist.”