The Tennessee Tribune
Since the Trump administration began in January, ridiculous behavior and indefensible actions have been routine. Between spending his time sending out idiotic tweets, attacking the news media, insulting foreign diplomats, and even implying in public statements that Frederick Douglass was still alive, the 45th president has made both himself and this nation a continual laughing stock.
But there’s nothing remotely funny about his reported plans to either gut or try to completely eliminate the Affordable Care Act – better known in some circles as Obamacare. In particular, his administration has announced that they are targeting provisions that proved especially helpful to Medicare participants. There are three areas of special importance that legislators should do everything to protect.
The first is preventive screenings. This makes so much sense it seems absurd that anyone would want to eliminate it, but this administration is making noises about doing so. Why anyone would want to take away something that could lead to people having potential medical problems diagnosed and treated BEFORE they become severe is baffling. That is something that should be encouraged and applauded, not taken away.
The second involves closing what is known in health care circles as “the donut hole,” Medicare Part D. This is the difference between what a beneficiary must pay for once they’ve reached the initial coverage limit, and the amount the government pays for “catastrophic” drug coverage. Anyone who has ever had any types of long term or severe illnesses that required extensive drugs knows how quickly and easily rising prices can bankrupt or ruin families. Once more, it seems incomprehensible that any administration would want to increase hardship and fiscal cost on its citizenry.
Third, there’s the issue of rewarding reimbursement to health plans, doctors or other medical health providers if they improve health outcomes and quality. This would also seem like a commendable plan, a way to encourage better treatment, facility upgrades and general improvement in medial care and patient/health provider interaction. But it seems this is also on the possible cutting floor.
The Tennessee Tribune joins many others around the nation in urging Congress not to turn its back on the millions who’ve benefited from the ACA and/or those provisions directly beneficial to Medicare participants. Prior to the Obama administration there had been decades of spiraling medical costs, with all types of restrictions and requirements that were effectively denying access to health care for large parts of the population, in particular poor folks and people of color.
The ACA has greatly improved opportunities for much of the population to get the same caliber of health care that for decades was only available to upper income types like those who are part of President Trump’s cabinet and inner circle. He comes from a background of elitism and privilege, having spent his entire professional life building casinos and golf courses, while also flaunting tax and monopoly laws. For people like him, health care isn’t an issue, and his lack of concern for anyone not in his immediate income bracket is appalling.
Congress is supposed to act as a check against too much power in the presidency. Donald Trump in too many instances seems to think he is a king rather than an elected President. Anyone who dares criticize or question his policies gets deemed an “enemy of the people,” and he continues to target immigrants, Muslims, poor folks, people of color, anyone except that narrow slice of the populace who reflect his income and echo his praises.
But the stakes are too high this time, and too many lives could be at risk. Congress simply MUST not allow these provisions to be diluted or weakened. Nor can they sit back and let President Trump gut the entire ACA to the point it no longer does what it was intended to do, provide everyone in America regardless of income or background equal access to quality medical care.
The Tennessee Tribune strongly condemns any attempts at gutting either the provisions protecting Medicare recipients in the ACA or any notions that some scaled down, feeble alternative plan with some meaningless new name will prove a better substitute. We urge all members of Congress, starting with those in the Tennessee delegation, not to be intimidated by rhetoric or scared off doing their duty by late-night belligerent tweets.
Stand up for the people legislators. Do what’s right, and act on behalf of the majority of people rather than the privileged cabal who’ve seized control of the executive branch.
Rosetta Miller Perry is the publisher of The Tennessee Tribune in Nashville, Tennessee.