The political theater of Trumpcare

The battle over the latest version of Trumpcare promises all the drama, tragedy, and irony political theater can muster.

After more than a month of hurry up and wait the Senate Republicans released their version of Trumpcare. It’s called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). On the fast track for a full Senate vote within a week, it’s name foreshadows all the drama, tragedy, and irony that political theater can muster. And every American, who chooses to to pay attention, has a front row seat.

What happens now?

Act 1, in which everyone rushes to judgement.

A flurry of action takes place across the media landscape.

The news media is screaming out headlines like these.

Winners and losers from the Senate repeal bill

Republican Senators pretend people who get kicked off of Medicaid will just start buying insurance

Poll: Trump’s approval at 40%, only 16% support House’s health care bill

Senators are tweeting and posting to Facebook and broadcasting on Facebook Live their readings of the bill.

Various health organizations have launched campaigns urging people to tell their Senators to vote “no” on the bill.

After taking in the news and social media I’ve come to the conclusion that some people hate the BCRA. Some people really hate the BCRA. And some people just want to spin it. But no one is saying it will provide better care.

Therein lies the irony.

Act 2, in which the people respond.

The people affected take to the political stage and raise their voices.

This response is taking many forms: calling Senators’ offices (again!), taking to social media with the hashtag #HealthcareMatters, and physical protests.

As the BCRA was being released a group of disabled people and their advocates staged a die-in at Senator Mitch McConnell’s office. Dozens of protesters were arrested as they chanted in the hallway “Our lives and liberty shouldn’t be stolen to give a tax break to the wealthy.” Video of Capitol Police forcibly removing disabled people from outside Senator Mitch McConnell’s office, some in wheelchairs others being physically dragged or carried down the hall, made national news.  It’s a video that will likely haunt many Senators in political ads for many election cycles to come.

One of the protest organizers stated that “To say people will die under this law is not an exaggeration.

Meanwhile, the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll shows that Republicans see Medicaid as welfare while most Americans don’t.

Therein lies the tragedy.

Act 3, in which the Senate takes direct action.

The Senate convenes.

So, just what is in the BCRA? Pretty much all the same stuff that was in the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA). Cuts to Medicaid. but this time they’re rumored to be to the tune of $800 billion. Opt-out options for States to eliminate or reduce essential healthcare benefits and insurance marketplaces. Elimination of coverage mandates. Cuts to taxes on the wealthy, also rumored to be to the tune of $800 billion. Interesting how the cuts balance out.

Will Senators debate for longer than the minimum requirement? Will Senators make procedural moves like introducing amendments to delay action or yield back their time to shorten the debate? Will Senators vote before going on 4th of July recess? Will the Vice President have to cast a tie-breaking vote?

What will be the ultimate political cost to be paid by Senators and by the American people?

We won’t know until that day comes.

Therein lies the drama.

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If Senate Republicans write the healthcare bill in the dark…

Will the healthcare bill ever see the light of day?

How can you vote on a bill that will affect health insurance coverage for 24 million people without reading it first?

It’s been just over a month since Trumpcare (formally known as the American Health Care Act of 2017 or AHCA) passed out of the House and landed in the Senate.

During this time there hasn’t been much to write about because no one has seen the Senate Republicans’ bill. They have a select group of Senators writing the bill, in private, with no discernible input from anyone.

This isn’t how these things normally go.

Needless to say, the lack of information has made a lot of people nervous. Not just Senate Democrats, but also major healthcare organizations, governors, and even insurers. The President himself called the Senate’s bill “mean” and told Senate Republicans to be “more generous.”

In their rush to pass a healthcare bill, Senate Republicans might have killed it.

Senate Democrats are resorting to using procedural rules to slow down, not just the progress of this bill, but the all of the Senate’s work. Democrats hope this tactic will get enough Senate Republicans to change their votes that the bill goes down to defeat.

More importantly, the New York Times is reporting that “not one state supports the Republican health bill” because Senators need to be mindful of their constituents’ feelings. Don’t they?

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Wash Your Hands!

The BG roller coaster. If only I remembered the basics, I could have avoided taking this ride.

It’s grad season here. A busy time filled with celebration, ceremony, and light refreshment. No gathering is complete without some kind of food.

I found myself back home ready to take my dinner dose of insulin after eating dinner. Faced with my BG meter I knew the reading would be high. After all, tonight I was doing this backwards.

But I didn’t expect it to be that high.

It was so high it triggered a text from the CDE. Oh crud. Quickly, I dosed the insulin and took my shot. My phone buzzed.

“Are you okay?” was the text.

I texted back, “Yes, I’m okay. I was out at a graduation and ate before I took my diner meds. Just took my shot.”

Then I looked at my hands. And realized something. I hadn’t washed my hands before testing. And I had eaten pineapple earlier with my fingers. No toothpick. No chopsticks. No fork. Oh, crud.

I quickly washed my hands and tested again. My BG reading was 50 points lower. Still high. But not setting-off-the-alarm high.

I texted the CDE with this update.

And then I realized the dose of insulin I just took was higher than it needed to be. Oh, crap. I had a long night ahead of me. Now I had to monitor my BG to see if it would go too low.

Sigh.

If only I had remembered to wash my hands before testing.

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#dBlogWeek: More Than Diabetes

Life, an unalienable Right

Today’s Diabetes Blog Week prompt:

 Share an interest, hobby, passion, something that is YOU.  If you want to explore how it relates to or helps with diabetes you can.   Or let it be a part of you that is completely separate from diabetes, because there is more to life than just diabetes!

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I feel like I’ve been writing outside the lines all week. So, I guess I won’t stop now.

What is my passion?

Policy.

I’m a policy wonk.

I believe that politics matter because government can do good for the people—or it can do bad.

My voice and my vote is how I influence my government to do good.

Politics and government are difficult subjects to bring up in polite company. Especially these days when the country if so polarized and seems to be experiencing collective PTSD over the legitimacy of those in power.

Why is policy so important to me?

Maybe it’s because I’m the grandchild of immigrants who came to the US to escape a bloody revolution.

Maybe it’s because members of my family experienced poverty and that poverty was relieved by government programs.

Maybe it’s because I worked on education reform in the hope that my children would receive a quality public education.

Maybe because deep down I’m an idealist whose heart is still stirred by these words:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

What does this have to do with diabetes?

Right now? Everything.

In Washington we have a Congress hell-bent on repealing the ACA (a.k.a. Obamacare) and replacing it with tax breaks for the rich.

In the pharma industry we have companies who one week brag to their investors how profitable their insulin business is and the next week invite diabetes patient advocates to call out PBMs (Pharmacy Benefit Managers) for price increases.

We have people turning to crowdfunding sites to pay for their medication. And when that fails, their friends and family update their pleas to pay for a funeral.

It shouldn’t be this way. That’s why policy matters to me. And that’s why I advocate for health care affordability and access.

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