Thursday, October 3, 2013

Random Political Thoughts from the Past Week

A friend recently said that Elizabeth Warren should run for president instead of Hillary Clinton. Much as I like the fantasy of Warren in the White House, I think it's a bad idea. She has no foreign policy experience whatsoever, and suffers from the same problem President Obama had -- she's only been in the Senate a few years.

Instead, Warren should stay in the Senate to build the progressive cause and work with Clinton to leverage their common popularity to make more of the real change we thought we could get under Obama.

My friend bemoaned Clinton's Wall Street funders, and I agree, that's been a problem. As Warren herself said, Clinton was very sympathetic to the people's interest on bankruptcy laws when she was First Lady, but as soon as she was running for the Senate, she backed the bankers.

But once Clinton is elected president, especially in a second term, I think she would revert to her personal views on these things, which are rooted in progressivism and her work for decades with causes like the Children's Defense Fund. Once she's achieved so much, her legacy begins to matter more than scratching the backs of the bankers.

Having a brilliant thinker and critical questioner like Warren in the Senate is a good thing. She'd be wasted in the White House.

Melissa Harris Perry said last Sunday that she's surprised the Tea Party has been so successful in resisting Obamacare, because big money interests like insurance companies and hospitals strongly support it. Their success at stalling and misinforming is frustrating, I know.

But we should be inspired by the Tea Party's success, even as we oppose them. The Right has copycatted Left tactics for years. It's time to learn from them.

My thoughts on the Affordable Care Act are that it's way better than nothing, but that the coverage it offers (if I understand it correctly) is not good enough. Compared to not having coverage, it's good, especially if you have a modest income and qualify for subsidies. But it's not good compared to many employer-based plans.

My current coverage, for instance, has no deductible and a $2,750 maximum out of pocket, which I have never come close to. No copays for preventive care, $25 for nonpreventive doctor visits. $10 or $12 for generic drugs, $35 for non-generics. The copays are just high enough to keep you from incurring them for no reason, but not high enough to keep you from going in when you need to.

The story of Kameron Hurley, who developed Type 1 diabetes when she was 25, is instructive. If she'd had a silver plan under the ACA, she would have had to pay 30% of her care each year until she hit the cap, which while better than no cap or having no insurance at all, is still a lot of money for someone who makes $30,000 or $40,000 a year.

We need universal, single-payer health care in this country. Why is that so hard to understand that?


The people written up in a recent Washington Post story on how the ACA will affect regular people got me thinking and grousing.

The first woman profiled won't be eligible for the ACA because she lives in Virginia. She should be eligible for Medicaid because her income is so low, but it's not low enough for Virginia's absurd limits and they've rejected the expansion that would be paid for by the federal government. So she can't use the exchange because her income is too low. Aaaaaaghh.

Another woman makes just over $46,000 in individual salary, meaning she won't qualify for a subsidy. Her premiums would be $189 a month for moderate (probably silver) coverage, or $121 for a bronze plan. Personally, I would rearrange my budget to get that additional $1,400 or $2,300 a year in just for the piece of mind against bankruptcy. But I'm risk averse. She says, "It would take a lot of re-budgeting and hoping for a raise." Do it, woman.

Then there's the 63-year-old guy who won't buy health insurance because it's "kind of like betting against your own health." What? Oh, but then the reporter said that he's a self-employed "health-care practitioner" who specializes in craniosacral therapy, "which involves touching the skull and other points to relieve tension." And it all made sense. He eats organic and thinks that protects him. Woooooo.

Maybe he can trade his Maryland coverage to the woman from Virginia who's not eligible because she makes too little money.

Oh, and finally, there's the 51-year-old woman who cleans houses for a living, and thinks she has fibromyalgia and takes four medications for joint pain. Hello, she's 51 and she cleans houses for a living -- is it any wonder that her body aches? At least it sounds like she'll get some affordable insurance out of the ACA.

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