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October 22, 2019

10/19/2017 7:29:00 AM
Thanks to Trump, health care reform is on the way

If you were listening only to the mainstream media and political liberals last week, you might be convinced the sky is falling.

Well, OK, that's true anytime, but it was especially true after President Trump signed an executive order on health care, and then stripped big insurance companies of about $9 billion a year - $100 billion over the next decade - in subsidies they don't need or deserve.

And, mind you, these were subsidies never appropriated by Congress, even when they were asked to appropriate them by President Barack Obama. Heck, Congress didn't even appropriate the money when Democrats controlled both chambers in 2009 and 2010.

So Obama just decided to dole out the money to his crony friends anyway. He never did let little things like the constitution get in his way.

Usually, Democrats and liberals love to hate big insurance companies and their obscene profits. At least in public, Democrats like to make them out to be big, bad evil monsters preying on the poor and the defenseless.

And, you know what, that's not far off the mark. But these are not usual times, so the Democrats now love the insurance companies and the subsidies they were getting.

Oh, they don't say it that way. They claim that insurance companies, minus the subsidies, will simply spike prices or pull out of the federal health-care markets altogether, which also leads to higher prices, and the poor will be preyed upon after all.

Only now, as with everything else, it's Trump's fault, not that of the insurance companies. And so they cry for the poor, crocodile tears flowing down their cheeks, silk handkerchiefs in their hands.

None of it is true, of course, and they know it.

As we point out in today's edition, the decision to end the subsidies will cause and has caused prices to skyrocket, but the poor won't suffer, taxpayers will. The premium tax credits going to those on Obamacare and who qualify for subsidies - 83 percent of the total -will keep on going to them, and credits will rise in lockstep with the rise in premium costs, a fact of federal law.

Poor people on Medicaid won't be affected, either. In Wisconsin our Badgercare safety net universally covers those in poverty. Specifically, all low-income adults as defined by the poverty line, not to mention children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people with disabilities are eligible for Medicaid.

When Gov. Scott Walker, who reformed the program, said his Medicaid reforms covered everyone in poverty with Medicaid for the first time ever, even the leftist Politifact rated the statement as mostly true.

Again, Trump's actions do not affect those on Medicaid, nor do they affect those above the poverty line but whose real-world lower incomes still qualify them for subsidies.

That leaves small business owners and entrepreneurs and others who buy their own insurance on the market and who make just enough to lose out on subsidies but not enough to pay the extortion that the insurance industry and the medical establishment call insurance premiums. That's about 37,000 people in Wisconsin.

They will be hurt, but this is where Trump's executive order is brilliant, for it targets just that population.

Among other things, the executive order allows the expansion of Health Reimbursement Arrangements and the use of short-term insurance policies for up to a year, with a renewal option. But most important, it allows small businesses to join or form trade associations and pool their members' resources to buy insurance policies with economies of scale, just like big companies do.

Say you are a successful bed-and-breakfast owner. You make enough that you don't qualify for a premium tax credit, and so you pay the full freight of the insurance you buy on the marketplace, which this past year could have been as much as $1,400 or more a month.

To top it off, you are facing a 36-percent increase for next year. Ouch!

But now Trump's executive order could allow your bed-and-breakfast association to buy its members health-insurance policies as a group. Not only will the scale be large enough to lower costs significantly, but the association can now shop across state lines to get the best deal.

As Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said at the signing of the order, what we are doing is "legalizing inexpensive insurance."

The devil is in the details of the specific regulations that still need to be written, and, critically, they need to allow self-employed professionals to participate, but, assuming that's the case, we are looking at the most exciting health-care reform in a generation.

So from Obama to Trump we went, from health-care debacle to exciting health-care reform we go.

President Trump has set a stage - a preliminary one, it must be conceded - for establishing a truly competitive, high-quality, and low-cost health care system in the United States, a free-market system that puts consumers first, kicks big insurance companies to the curb, and disrupts the medical establishment's monopoly pricing policies.

So what's next?

More deregulation is in order, and that means more steps to remove restrictions on the health-care market and to remove the federal government completely from the health care business.

To that end, we suggest another look at Sen Lindsay Graham's bill to block grant federal Obamacare funds to the states so they can build the health-care systems their citizens want and need.

After all, those wants and needs might be different in Vermont than they are in Wisconsin. At the signing of the executive order, Trump hinted that the bill would re-emerge, and we hope it does.

Just think, instead of $100 billion headed to the bank accounts of big insurance companies, not to mention into the pockets of their executives - according to a Modern Healthcare analysis, eight insurance executives at the largest publicly traded insurance companies made $171.8 million in 2016 - that money would go to the states and to the health care of their people.

That's not sabotaging our health care, as liberals and the mainstream media want you to believe. That's sabotaging the flimflammery of the men and women of Big Insurance, as they prey on the poor and the defenseless and make obscene windfall profits off of the simple needs of decent Americans.

Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2019
Article comment by: Charles Uphoff

There has been a lot of talk lately from President Trump and Republicans about the imminent threat of “Socialism,” attacking proposals from leading Democratic presidential candidates that would provide Medicare coverage for all Americans and not just those of us who are over 65. This scare tactic is particularly curious when even a conservative Koch Brothers funded study found that “Medicare for All” would cost taxpayers far less to cover everybody than our current private for-profit health insurance system. Perhaps someone could explain why using our taxes to pay doctors and hospitals when we get sick is “socialism” but using tax dollars to build highways, planes and bombs or pay farmers not to grow crops isn’t. If you want to see the real face of democratic socialism in action you could go to Denmark and Canada or, even closer to home, you just might visit your local public school, a public library, National Park or a museum. Then you can go and thank your local firefighters, police and National Guard.

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