The best moment for the new Trump Administration was the one where the president smiled in Saudi Arabia and said only 26 words in public. This was terrible reality TV but we all watched knowing that it was likely just a pause. Something outrageous must be coming up next. Meanwhile, beyond the distraction, Republicans work to dismantle the most successful government health insurance for the poor, Medicaid. (White House photo)
Reality TV works for one simple reason: The antics of the characters are beyond what’s believable in fiction.
That’s why the presidency of Donald J. Trump would make a terrible novel or screenplay.
This is Trahant Reports.
The White House Reality Show may be entertaining. But more important stories are being written and played off-screen. This is what the Trump Show hides: The House’s Health Care Act does much more than roll back the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare as they like to say.) It ends Medicaid, the single most effective form of “government” insurance that secures health care options for 62.3 million Americans. To add perspective: Medicare — supposedly untouchable in politics — insures 43.3 million seniors.
These are huge numbers. Medicaid is expensive. And we all pay for this plan. As we should. It’s one of the best things this country does.
So it’s no wonder that Speaker Paul Ryan and Republicans are eager to make this go away (both because it costs so much and because it requires a lot of taxes to pay for this enterprise).
At a town hall meeting in Anchorage last week, Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan followed this script to the letter. According to The Alaska Dispatch News the Republican senator told a contentious town hall, that he wanted to make sure the people who received health care coverage under Medicaid expansion “do not have the rug pulled out from under them.” Medicaid for now? Then something else? What else?
The answer is to protect the framework of Medicaid. It’s the one part of Indian health funding that’s growing and already accounts for the insurance of record for more than half of all our children. (And, this is really important, third-party insurance billing, which includes Medicaid, is money that stays at a local IHS clinic or hospital. It does not go into the general budget.)
I’ve heard Republicans say they like the results of Medicaid but that we has a country cannot afford it. That’s particularly troubling because Medicaid is more efficient that private insurance. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation says Medicaid acts as a “high risk pool.” Because so many people are excluded (or out-priced) from private insurance, Medicaid becomes the only option. That makes private insurance more affordable.
The Senate is now busy rewriting the House’s awful health bill. It will be a different entity, that’s for sure. But will the Senate protect the best basic public health insurance program that we have now? There is no evidence to suggest that. And too many people are busy watching reality TV to even notice.
I am Mark Trahant.