Who Will Reform the Health Care Reform?

Look, I’m as thrilled as everyone that the House reached agreement on a health care reform plan that will ensure medical coverage for 96% of Americans. This is a milestone, and a landmark piece of legislation which will make it through voting process next week.

But, here’s my concern. In the proposal, there are numerous references to employers, as well as what happens to those who lose their jobs, but what about those who are unemployed? What about the indigent? I’m not clear on whether the requirements for eligibility for Medicaid will change, or whether that will be left up to the states. Right now, in the state of California, one has to be eligible for welfare in order to get on Medicaid. Those who hover around the poverty line, the so-called working poor, are often ineligible for government programs like food stamps, and Medicaid. Will that change?

Also, this legislation sets up what is called an “exchange,” or salad bar of health care options, but what happens to those who come to the table with an appetite, and not the wherewithal to pay? Indeed, they fall into the 4% who are uncovered, the chronically forgotten. 4% certainly sounds like a small enough number, but it works out to be something like 9 million people. When was the last time you made a turkey dinner for 9 million people? That’s a lot of stuffing.

In the interest of fairness, just as the bill calls for 2.5% of annual income penalty for those who refuse to get coverage, income eligibility for Medicare must change so that the needs of more unemployed, and unemployed Americans are reflected.

The way the public option measure is worded is such that it comes across as part of the exchange, hence leading one to think that there may only be a marginal difference in cost between the so-called public option and an HMO like Kaiser.

And, what is an affordability “credit?” Is it like a tax credit for carrying insurance? If so, where does that leave the unemployed, and/or the underemployed? Also, what does the below clause mean?

“All individuals will generally be required to get coverage, either through their employer or the exchange, or pay a penalty of 2.5 percent of income, subject to a hardship exemption.

The federal government will provide affordability credits, available on a sliding scale for low- and middle-income individuals and families to make premiums affordable and reduce cost-sharing.”

Don’t get me wrong. Given that approximately 41 million, or one in every nine Americans have no health insurance now, this plan is a first step, and a good one. But, it is every American’s and every member of Congress’s duty to read the fine print, and ask the hard questions now. After all, it took more than two hundred years to get this far, and it may take another two hundred to reform the reform.

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

More articles by:

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

March 21, 2018
Paul Street
Time is Running Out: Who Will Protect Our Wrecked Democracy from the American Oligarchy?
Mel Goodman
The Great Myth of the So-Called “Adults in the Room”
Chris Floyd
Stumbling Blocks: Tim Kaine and the Bipartisan Abettors of Atrocity
Eric Draitser
The Political Repression of the Radical Left in Crimea
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Threatens Wider War Against the Kurds
John Steppling
It is Us
Thomas Knapp
Death Penalty for Drug Dealers? Be Careful What You Wish for, President Trump
Manuel García, Jr.
Why I Am a Leftist (Vietnam War)
Isaac Christiansen
A Left Critique of Russiagate
Howard Gregory
The Unemployment Rate is an Inadequate Reporter of U.S. Economic Health
Ramzy Baroud
Who Wants to Kill Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah?
Roy Morrison
Trouble Ahead: The Trump Administration at Home and Abroad
Roger Hayden
Too Many Dead Grizzlies
George Wuerthner
The Lessons of the Battle to Save the Ancient Forests of French Pete
Binoy Kampmark
Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy
Rivera Sun
Think Outside the Protest Box
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
John Pilger
Skripal Case: a Carefully-Constructed Drama?
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography