The prospects for the ‘repeal and replace’ Obamacre plans

I wrote a month ago that I expected that after all the posturing ends and the dust settles, all 52 Republicans in the US Senate would do what they always do, and that is dutifully fall in line and vote as demanded by the party leadership and president Donald Trump to gut the health insurance of tens of millions of people while giving the wealthy a tax cut.
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Treatment of the drug epidemic follows a predictable pattern

We are seeing the familiar trajectory of how the US views social problems played out in the case of the opioid overuse epidemic. When a social problem like drug use is seen as primarily affecting the black community, it is treated as a crime and dealt with harshly, with police crackdowns on users and the handing out of long criminal sentences. The racial disparity in sentencing was most visible in the way that use of crack cocaine (used primarily in the black community) was treated far more harshly than powdered cocaine, a form of the drug that was favored by the affluent white community.
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Why Americans pay more for worse care

Matt Taibbi explains how the presence of private, for-profit health insurance companies in the US are a direct threat to people’s health.

Many years ago, while researching a book chapter on health care reform, I visited a hospital in Bayonne, New Jersey that was having problems. Upon arrival, administrators told me a story that summed up everything that is terrible and stupid about American health care.

A patient of theirs suffering from a chronic illness took a bad turn and had to come in for a minor surgical procedure. The only problem was, the patient had been taking Coumadin, a common blood thinner, as part of his outpatient care.
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Wait for the Republicans to cave on the health care vote

The Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell has released his version of the health care reform bill and it has as its main feature a massive transfer of wealth to the rich while cutting health service to the poor. The main target seems to be Medicaid, the government-run system that serves the poor. Steven Rosenfeld summarizes the main features.
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The absurdity of ‘free market health care’

Cartoonist Ruben Bolling captures well the absurdity of the idea that health care should be left to the so-called ‘free market’ (in reality a monopoly or quasi-monopoly market) and that each of us should shop around to find the best possible health insurance for our families. Health care is vastly more complicated than pretty much anything else in our lives. Access to basic health care should be universal and free and paid for by the government out of our taxes. It is just that simple.

Tom the Dancing Bug 1343 chagrin falls 20 – free market health care

The secret senate (no-)health care plan

While attention is focused elsewhere, just 13 Republicans in the Senate are drafting a health care plan in total secrecy, with no committee hearings planned. This suggests that the plan is going to be a real stinker and that they are planning to ram it through before the details can sink in and there is a popular uprising against it. The media are helping by not highlighting the secrecy and simply ignoring the plan altogether until it is revealed.
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Watch this video

At a town hall meeting in New Jersey, a voter named Geoff Ginter gives an earful to his Republican congressperson Tom MacArthur for drafting and voting for the amended Republican health care bill. This kind of heated meetings have become commonplace but this one is exceptional because Ginter provides a passionate and articulate attack on the bill and an insightful analysis of what is wrong with the system in the US. I was highly impressed that although he was clearly extremely furious, he did not let his anger take over and lose control. He was very lucid and coherent and the congressperson had to just stand there and take it.
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Republicans move towards their goal of depriving people of health care

So the Republicans in the House of Representatives managed to squeeze through their repeal of Obamacare by the thinnest of margins of 217-213 even though it did not undergo any of the normal scrutiny that a major bill should receive. But we do know that it seeks to deprive many people of basic health care protections and is a huge siphoning of money from the poor to the rich.
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On the road to single payer?

After the humiliating debacle in which Paul Ryan and Donald Trump had to pull their health care bill from the floor or see it go down in flames, the talk was that the reform effort was dead, at least for some time, and that Trump and Ryan would reluctantly defer health care actions that hurt the poor and middle class and instead move on to other things dear to their hearts that hurt the poor and middle class, like cutting taxes on the wealthy.
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