Health & Home

GOP Concedes Their Latest Trumpcare Bill is Dead

by Addy Baird  & Amanda Michelle Gomez – Republicans don’t have enough votes. A hastily written health bill — with deep cuts to Medicaid and major hits to patient regulatory protections — ran into the same political problems as bills before it, and failed to garner enough support in the Senate. Republicans announced Tuesday the party does not have the votes to pass their latest health care bill, known as the Graham-Cassidy bill, and will forgo a vote this week. Instead they will move on to tax reform, reaching for at least one legislative win before midterm elections. Efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are not dead, but a “matter of when,” Republicans promised. “We are going to fulfill our promise,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during a press conference Tuesday. “Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson will be the alternative to Obamacare.” At the end of the press conference, a reporter asked...

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Trump’s Refusal to Send Hospital Ship Tips His Plan to Abandon Puerto Rico (UPDATED)

by DocDawg – A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. – U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper Eight hundred and ninety-four feet long, 106 feet wide, and weighing 69,360 tons, USNS Comfort is a complete ocean-going medical facility with 1,000 patient beds including 80 for intensive care patients. Along with 12 operating rooms she boasts a complete dental clinic, optometry lab and pharmacy, X-ray machines, CT scanners, oxygen and fresh water production plants, capacity to store 5,000 units of blood, laundry operations, and a morgue. She’s the size of a 20th century supertanker. Indeed, she was a supertanker — the SS Rose City — until purchased by the Navy in 1987 and converted to serve her current lifesaving mission. She and her sister ship in the Pacific, USNS Mercy, are among the rare few assets of the obscenely wealth US military devoted exclusively to saving, rather than taking, lives. But today,...

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Krugman on Republicans: They were ‘lying about health care all along’ now ‘unable to govern’

by Walter Einenkel – It is a clearly untenable position that the Republican Party finds itself in with the recent release of the Graham-Cassidy healthcare repeal bill. The bill is such a transparent cynical-catastrophe. This is something that is self-evident to most every American, but alas, there’s at least 34 percent of the population that thinks Donald Trump isn’t a complete failure of a human being. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman wrote a scathing op-ed in Monday’s New York Times that explains how “Trapped by Their Own Lies,” the Republican Party is at this moment in history. He begins by wondering aloud how, after Sen. John McCain’s famous “no,” the Republican Party finds itself once again trying to push through a clearly craven, universally derided healthcare bill, that cannot be defended with any level of merit. Krugman explains that when your political party makes its entire platform about saying things with zero actionable policy ideas—to achieve political...

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Indiana Judge Blocks Anti-choice Law in Indiana, Marking a Win for Planned Parenthood

by Addy Baird – Former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law. A federal judge has issued a permanent injunction against an Indiana law that would have prohibited abortions sought specifically because the fetus had been potentially diagnosed with Down syndrome or other disabilities. The law also would have required that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated and that abortion providers notify patients that seeking an abortion because the fetus may be disabled was against the law in the state. The restrictions were signed into law in March 2016 by Vice President Mike Pence, who was then the governor of Indiana, but Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, sued and obtained a preliminary injunction. Last year, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt suspended the law, saying it was likely unconstitutional and would violate a woman’s right to choose an abortion before the...

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3.5 Million Americans Face Disease & Death in Puerto Rico. What the Hell is Trump Doing?

by Denise Oliver Velez – People with no drinking water. People with no food. People with no medicine. No dialysis. No insulin. No homes. Water full of feces. No fuel for generators. The mayor of San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz describes the horror: Where the hell is the army, the navy, the marines?  Why is there no massive airlift in and out?  insightus @InsightusOrg As 3.4 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico face a public health crisis, hospital ship USNS Comfort remains moored in Norfolk VA home port. 9:44 AM – Sep 24, 2017 WTF is the President of the United States and the Republican controlled Congress doing? Thank you Hillary Clinton: Hillary Clinton  ✔@HillaryClinton President Trump, Sec. Mattis, and DOD should send the Navy, including the USNS Comfort, to Puerto Rico now. These are American citizens. https://twitter.com/samynemir/status/911401368983924736 … 12:04 PM – Sep 24, 2017 Thank you Governor Cuomo: Andrew Cuomo   ✔@NYGovCuomo Puerto Rico needs...

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Entire Healthcare System to GOP: “You think we’re f*cking with you? We are not f*cking with you.”

by Brainwrap – it’s pretty rare for the entire medical, hospital and insurance industry to agree on just about anything…and yet here we are (emphasis in the original): The following statement was jointly released on September 23, 2017 by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the BlueCross BlueShield Association regarding the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson legislation. We represent the nation’s doctors, hospitals and health plans. Collectively, our organizations include hundreds of thousands of individual physicians, thousands of hospitals, and hundreds of health plans that serve tens of millions of American patients, consumers and employers every day across the United States. While we sometimes disagree on important issues in health care, we are in total agreement that Americans deserve a stable healthcare market that provides access to high-quality care and affordable coverage for all. The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill does not move us closer to that goal....

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Desperate GOP Resorts to ‘Blatant Bribery’ in Bid to Save Floundering Trumpcare Bill

by Jake Johnson – Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy added an abundance of sweeteners to their bill in an attempt to win over skeptical colleagues. With the latest version of Trumpcare floundering after several Republicans announced that they cannot support the legislation in its current form, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) are set to release on Monday yet another draft of their Obamacare repeal plan that includes extra funding for the home states of senators who have expressed deep concerns about the bill—a move Buzzfeed reporter Paul McLeod quickly characterized as “shockingly blatant bribery.” “There’s really no way around it,” McLeod added. “This is almost comically targeted to sweeten the deal for the senators voting no. What a way to go out.” According to the Washington Post, a summary of the draft that was circulating on Capitol Hill late Sunday indicated that “Alaska would get 3 percent more funding between 2020 and 2026 than...

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The Americans with Disabilities Act Is Under Threat

by Kristin Miller – There’s no entity in charge of ensuring that businesses comply with the ADA. The optics were bad enough when disabled Americans were being dragged out of capital buildings as they protested potential loss of benefits in the first two iterations of Republican health care bills. For the protestors it was all about Medicaid. The Senate bill did away with Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion which would drop millions of low-income Americans from the rolls. And the bill completely changed the way Medicaid is financed — getting rid of open-ended funding and moving toward a “per-capita” system. The new Graham-Cassidy bill under consideration needs to be voted on within the next week to get an easy pass with just 51 votes. Like its predecessors, it also halts Medicaid expansion and turns Medicaid dollars over to the states to determine spending. But disability advocates have even more reason to be distressed by the...

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Senator Susan Collins all but Says She’ll Vote Against Latest Trumpcare Bill

by Amanda Michelle Gomez – But the GOP leadership is still not giving up on its efforts to take away healthcare coverage. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) told CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of The Union on Sunday that “it’s very difficult” to envision a scenario where she would vote for the latest Obamacare repeal bill, dubbed “Graham-Cassidy.” She said she will definitively decide Monday, after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) releases its preliminary estimates on the bill. But Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) — one of the bill’s drafters — said on ABC’s This Week that parts of tomorrow’s CBO score will no longer be relevant because he’s introducing another bill, which the agency has not scored yet. He said that score — like the vote — will come later in the week. During the previous repeal attempt, senators had to vote on a bill for which the CBO score was released just hours beforehand. This Week  ✔@ThisWeekABC...

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AARP: Some Seniors Could Pay More Than $30,000 per Year to Keep Their Plans Under Graham-Cassidy

by wagatwe – The latest iteration of the Trumpcare zombie legislation known as the Graham-Cassidy bill is just bad news for senior Americans. According to a report by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), millions of seniors nationwide will see their health care premiums and out-of-pocket costs skyrocket if the bill becomes law. The bill eliminates two sources of financial assistance – premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions – critical to ensuring that low- to moderate-income older adults are able to afford the coverage they need. For a 60-year-old earning $25,000 a year, premiums and out-of-pocket costs could increase by as much as $16,174 a year if they wanted to keep their current coverage. The bill may also allow states to charge older adults age 50-64 significantly higher premiums than under current law on the basis of their age by waiving federal protections that limit the practice known as age rating. AARP chose...

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The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: Robert Jay Lifton and Bill Moyers on ‘A Duty to Warn’

by Bill Moyers – Renowned psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton on the Goldwater Rule: We have a duty to warn if someone may be dangerous to others. There will not be a book published this fall more urgent, important, or controversial than The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, the work of 27 psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health experts to assess President Trump’s mental health. They had come together last March at a conference at Yale University to wrestle with two questions. One was on countless minds across the country: “What’s wrong with him?” The second was directed to their own code of ethics: “Does Professional Responsibility Include a Duty to Warn” if they conclude the president to be dangerously unfit? As mental health professionals, these men and women respect the long-standing “Goldwater rule” which inhibits them from diagnosing public figures whom they have not personally examined. At the same time, as explained by Dr....

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Last-Ditch Effort By Republicans to Replace ACA: What You Need to Know

by Julie Rovner – Here are five things to know about the latest GOP bill. Republican efforts in Congress to “repeal and replace” the federal Affordable Care Act are back from the dead. Again. While the chances for this last-ditch measure appear iffy, many GOP senators are rallying around a proposal by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), along with Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) They are racing the clock to round up the needed 50 votes — and there are 52 Senate Republicans. An earlier attempt to replace the ACA this summer fell just one vote short when Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and John McCain (R-AZ) voted against it. The latest push is setting off a massive guessing game on Capitol Hill about where the GOP can pick up the needed vote. After Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year,...

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Why Are Drug Prices So High? We’re Curious, Too

by Katie Thomas, The New York Times and Charles Ornstein, ProPublica – The New York Times and ProPublica have teamed up to investigate who is to blame for skyrocketing drug prices — and have turned up some surprising answers. This much is clear: The public is angry about the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. Surveys have shown that high drug prices rank near the top of consumers’ health care concerns. What’s not as clear is exactly why prices have been rising, and who is to blame. For the last four months, The New York Times and ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative journalism organization, have teamed up to answer these questions, and to shed light on the games that are being played to keep prices high, often without consumers’ knowledge or consent. Katie reports from the health desk at The Times, and Charles is a senior reporter at ProPublica. Our reporting journey has turned up some counterintuitive stories,...

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Report: Every State Will Lose Funding Under GOP’s New Repeal-and-Replace Bill

by Addy Baird – The latest effort to repeal and replace the ACA could mean states lose $4 trillion over the next 20 years. The latest attempt by Republicans in Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, spearheaded by Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), would reduce federal funding to states by $215 billion over ten years, ultimately decreasing funding for all states, according to an analysis released Wednesday. The bill has the support of President Donald Trump, who has consistently pushed for Republicans to repeal and replace the ACA after repeated failures to do so in recent months. “I hope Republican Senators will vote for Graham-Cassidy and fulfill their promise to Repeal & Replace ObamaCare. Money direct to States!” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump I hope Republican Senators will vote for Graham-Cassidy and fulfill their promise to Repeal & Replace ObamaCare. Money direct to...

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Lindsey Graham Brags About His Shockingly Cynical Strategy to Repeal Obamacare

by Judd Legum – It’s all about pitting Americans against each other. Speaking at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) discussed his bill to repeal Obamacare, which is quickly gaining momentum. In his remarks, Graham admitted that his strategy was largely based on redistributing large sums of money from large Democratic-led states like California, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland to states that are more Republican. In other words, Graham is attempting to purchase GOP votes by pitting Americans against each other — and explicitly working against the interests of more than 60 million people, the combined population of California, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland. “If you’re a Republican and you vote against , you got to explain to people back home why Washington knows better and almost every state except the four I have described do very well under this new approach to taking the money out of Washington,” Graham said. “I really believe we’re gonna get 50...

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Now is the Time to Transition From Obamacare to Single-payer Medicare For All

by Egberto Willies – Right-wing Republicans continue to talk about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act while establishment Democrats remain invested in Obamacare, seemingly at all costs. Neither of these parties seems to understand the failed state of health care for millions of Americans, including some with employer-provided coverage. Americans are starting to realize that there is, in fact, a better way. This week Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled his single-payer Medicare for all plan. Kamala Harris of California was the first U.S. senator to sign on. The flood gates then seemed to open as Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren signed on, quickly followed by 14 other Democrats. It seems these lawmakers are starting to read the desires of the grassroots instead of their wealthy benefactors. After all, 53 percent of Americans now support single-payer Medicare for all—and the trajectory is more support, not less. Americans are starting to realize that the insurance companies, pharmaceutical titans, and the rest of the medical-industrial complex are...

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Wave Goodbye to Your Pre-existing Condition Protections Under New Trumpcare Bill

by Joan McCarter – Remember when Republicans were going to keep all of the protections in the Affordable Care Act for people with pre-existing health conditions, even while they were going to repeal it? Slowly, surely, that promise faded away through every iteration of Trumpcare and Zombie Trumpcare that emerged. With the latest one Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are trying to jam through, they’re not even pretending anymore. This bill would “give states broad waiver authority to eliminate the ACA’s core protections for people with pre-existing health conditions.” These waivers would come on top of the proposal’s elimination of the ACA’s marketplace subsidies and Medicaid expansion, its radical restructuring of the rest of the Medicaid program, and its large cuts to total federal funding for health insurance coverage. Specifically, a little-noticed provision of the block grant funding states would receive under the plan would let them obtain waivers of ACA pre-existing conditions protections and...

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Attorneys General in 37 States Urge Insurance Industry to Do More to Curb Opioid Epidemic

by Charles Ornstein – They want insurers to re-examine coverage policies that, as ProPublica and The New York Times reported Sunday, may be driving patients toward addictive painkillers. Attorneys general for 37 states sent a letter Monday to the health insurance industry’s main trade group, urging its members to reconsider coverage policies that may be fueling the opioid crisis. The letter is part of an ongoing investigation by the state officials into the causes of the opioid epidemic and the parties that are most responsible. The group is also focusing on the marketing and sales practices of drug makers and the role of drug distributors. On Sunday, ProPublica and The New York Times reported that many insurance companies limit access to pain medications that carry a lower risk of addiction or dependence, even as they provide comparatively easy access to generic opioid medications. The safer drugs are more expensive. In their letter to America’s Health...

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Last-ditch Republican Health Care Effort Could Reduce Federal Funding by Nearly $300 Billion

by E.A. Crunden – Graham-Cassidy could be even more damaging than repealing Obamacare without a replacement, a new study says. A bill proposed by Republican Senators Bill Cassidy (LA) and Lindsey Graham (SC) would dramatically reduce federal funding for health care over the course of the next decade, according to a new report. Released Wednesday, the Graham-Cassidy bill is seemingly the last viable option for Republicans hoping to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, this year. The bill faces a steep — and likely doomed — battle in Congress: it has yet to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) or be cleared by the Senate parliamentarian, and several lawmakers have indicated they will push to hold hearings before they vote. But should the bill survive, experts are sounding the alarm about its likely impact — and the picture is a grim one. Under the bill, federal health care funds would decrease by $299...

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The GOP’s on the Verge of Passing a Bill That Will Phase Out Medicaid in its Entirety

by Ian Millhiser – Time to panic. Senate Republicans are on the cusp of passing a bill that will eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars worth of health funding, destabilize insurance markets, and eventually phase out Medicaid in its entirety. Less than two months after three Republican senators stopped an earlier effort to strip away much of America’s health care safety net, millions of Americans’ health care is now in very serious peril. The new Trumpcare legislation — often referred to as “Graham-Cassidy” after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), its leading proponents — contains several provisions undercutting the Affordable Care Act. It eliminates subsidies helping many millions of Americans purchase health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges and Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, replacing this funding with a less generous block grant to states. Then, this block grant abruptly disappears in 2027, leaving many millions of Americans with nothing. Meanwhile, the bill does not simply permit...

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