by Bob Cesca
Those of you who've been following my work here and elsewhere already know that healthcare reform is a deeply personal issue for me. Before we get into what's being called "Trumpcare," as well as the current president's unforgivable ignorance about the subject, let's recap what exactly happened to me.
For more than five years, I was unable to buy affordable insurance due to a pre-existing condition.
Specifically, I was riding my bike through one of the many small towns outside of Reading, Pennsylvania on a gorgeous Spring afternoon in 2007, on my way to an endurance-challenging 50 mile round trip -- a "half century," as they call it. Fifteen minutes into the ride, however, I was traveling through an intersection when a hatchback, driven by a group of teenage boys who just got out of school for the day, cut me off by passing me then making a sharp right-hand turn, sending me and my bike smashing into the side of the turning vehicle. Not to gross you out too much, but I could actually hear the sound of my T11 cracking as my body and my bike crumpled against the right rear fender and rear passenger door.
If I had been riding a little faster, or if I hadn't attempted to turn with the motion of the car, mitigating the impact, I might not be able to walk, ride, have sex, or generally do much of anything today.
My back hurts a little just thinking about it.
The bad news: I didn't have health insurance because Blue Cross jacked my premiums well beyond the point of affordability, so I had no choice but to cancel a year earlier. I know, I get it. I probably shouldn't have been riding all around the hills of eastern Pennsylvania without health insurance. Stupid. The good news is that the driver's insurance covered my medical expenses related to the injury.
Unfortunately, the injury disqualified me from getting an affordable, usable insurance policy. Of course I kept riding after my back mended, but there was simply no way I could continue to roll the dice with my healthcare situation -- and yet I had no choice. I had zero options available to me, along with a series of rejections from one insurance company after another. So, I went without...until several years later when President Obama gambled his entire presidency to make sure I and 20 million other Americans could finally acquire relatively inexpensive, comprehensive insurance policies.
Was Obamacare the exact kind of healthcare reform I wanted from the Obama administration? Not exactly. Short of a Medicare-for-all solution, I wanted the public option as an answer to the mandate requiring coverage. In fact, I wrote extensively about it. But when the final version of the ACA passed without the option, I was both disappointed and thrilled -- thrilled that I'd finally be able to purchase health insurance, and disappointed because it'd have to be from a private corporation. At the end of the day, however, I ended up buying a policy from a nonprofit HMO and, to date, my coverage has been outstanding, thanks mainly to the myriad consumer protections in the law.
Fast forward to 2017 and the Donald Trump presidency.
Here's how Trump talked about the Obamacare replacement plan released by Speaker Paul Ryan and the House Republicans:
"So we're going to do something that's great, and I'm proud to support the replacement plan, released by the House of Representatives and encouraged by members of both parties. I think really that we're going to have something that's going to be much more understood and much more popular than people can even imagine. It follows the guidelines I laid out in my congressional address -- a plan that will lower costs, expand choices, increase competition, and ensure healthcare access for all Americans.
This will be a plan where you can choose your doctor. This will be a plan where you can choose your plan. (Laughter.) And you know what the plan is -- this is the plan. And we're going to have a tremendous -- I think we're going to have a tremendous success. It's a complicated process, but actually it's very simple. It's called good healthcare."
Sorry, these aren't the words of a man who understands health insurance, or the struggles of Americans like you and me. He doesn't have a clue what's in the House bill, nor does he understand what's in the ACA, which he continues to unjustly demonize.
Let's run through this nonsense, line by line.
1) No, the bill wasn't encouraged by "both parties." Where the fuck does he get this crapola?
2) Suggesting that the bill will be more "understood" and "more popular than people can even imagine" is simply meaningless. If it's anything like his other promises about "very, very tremendous" things or how "nobody" has more respect for things, then it's definitely meaningless because words have no meaning for Trump.
3) The new plan doesn't "lower costs, expand choices, increase competition" or "ensure access for all Americans." Poor people will be slowly pushed out of the individual marketplace when premiums exceed the tax credits. Analysts are expecting 10 million people to lose health insurance due to what's being nicknamed "Trumpcare." And if they try to reacquire insurance, they'll pay a 30 percent "premium surcharge" -- a penalty, billed monthly -- for a full year.
4) There's nothing in this plan that guarantees we'll be able to choose own doctor, or your own plan, for that matter.
5) Regarding "and you know what the plan is -- this is the plan," go fuck yourself, Biff.
6) Regarding "and we're going to have a tremendous -- I think we're going to have a tremendous success," go fuck yourself, Biff. More meaningless words.
7) I have no goddamn idea what this means: "It's a complicated process, but actually it's very simple. It's called good healthcare." Huh? It's either complicated or simple. It can't be both. And I'm not sure what calling it "good healthcare" has to do with the plan being simple-yet-complicated.
It's likely Trump doesn't understand that Obamacare mainly impacts people who don't get their insurance via an employer. He likely doesn't know that Obamacare is extraordinarily popular among enrollees -- upwards of 85 percent popularity. It's likely Trump doesn't know how premiums or deductibles or co-pays work. It's likely Trump hasn't even read the House GOP plan, much less Obamacare.
Trump knows nothing.
I resent the hell out of the fact that 62 million doofs cast their ballots in support of this know-nothing circus clown. This feckless Batman villain. I further resent the hell out of the fact that he's pledged to monkey will my healthcare and yet he knows absolutely nothing about how the process works -- both the process of how a bill becomes a law, or how healthcare works. This empty suit is meddling with my ability -- our collectively ability -- to not go bankrupt because we made the mistake of getting sick or injured. Trump, who knows nothing, could be the final word on whether I get the preventative care and prescription medication I need, not to mention the healthcare I will definitely need as I inch closer to my 50s.