A morally bankrupt political party hellbent on denying medical care to millions of Americans

The Trump administration has expanded its sabotage efforts of “Obamacare” into a full-scale undermining of the American healthcare system. Under Trump, Obamacare outreach groups face budget cuts as high as 98%:

The Trump administration has informed government-funded Obamacare outreach groups of deep impending budget cuts next year, with some nonprofits having budgets slashed by as much as 98 percent.

The Health and Human Services Department announced August 31 that it would cut funding for the health law’s in-person assistance program by 41 percent. Late Wednesday night, the administration sent each group its individual budget. It shows widespread variation in how big those funding cuts will be.

Last year’s budget for the navigator program ran out on September 1. This year’s grants were released just before midnight on September 13, meaning that the outreach groups went two weeks with no funding at all. This led to some groups laying off workers or shutting down operations entirely.

Last week the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a new report showing that Trump is making Obamacare premiums more expensive:

The Trump administration’s management of Obamacare is causing higher premiums and lower enrollment in the individual market, a new report from the Congressional Budget Office finds.

The nonpartisan office estimates that average premiums in the health law marketplaces will be 15 percent higher next year “largely because of short-term market uncertainty — in particular, insurers’ uncertainty about whether federal funding for certain subsidies that are currently available will continue to be provided.”

The CBO also estimates that there will be less competition in the marketplaces next year, which it also attributes to the uncertain federal environment surrounding the health law’s future.

The subsidies the CBO refers to are the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies, which cover copays and deductibles for low-income health care enrollees. The Trump administration has not said whether it will continue to pay these subsidies next year, causing many insurance plans to raise their premiums to prevent any possible shortfall in revenue.

The CBO also points to “announced reductions in federal advertising, outreach, and other enrollment efforts” as additional factors that will make Obamacare sign-ups smaller next year than they otherwise would have been.

President Trump has often described the Affordable Care Act as “imploding on its own.” The CBO report suggests this isn’t the case at all; rather, the Trump administration is making specific policy decisions that are leading to an individual market that will be less functional, with fewer people signed up and higher premiums for those who do enroll.

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Donald Trump beats the drums of war at the United Nations

Remember when Trump supporters believed that his “America First” rhetoric meant retreating from America’s role as the world’s policeman engaging in endless wars to a non-interventionist foreign policy and withdrawing behind the walls of a “fortress America”? Suckers, that’s not what Trump meant at all. America First Foreign Policy. This is an aggressive “nationalism” policy litte different from the policy Russia ad China pursue.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Sunday the U.N. Security Council has run out of options on containing North Korea’s nuclear program and the United States may have to turn the matter over to the Pentagon. U.S. Ambassador Haley: U.N. has exhausted options on North Korea:

“We have pretty much exhausted all the things that we can do at the Security Council at this point,” Haley told CNN’s “State of the Union,” adding that she was perfectly happy to hand the North Korea problem over to Defense Secretary James Mattis.

* * *

China has urged the United States to refrain from making threats to North Korea. Asked about President Donald Trump’s warning last month that the North Korean threat to the United States will be met with “fire and fury,” Haley said, “It was not an empty threat.”

“If North Korea keeps on with this reckless behavior, if the United States has to defend itself or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed. And we all know that. And none of us want that. None of us want war,” she said on CNN.

“We’re trying every other possibility that we have, but there’s a whole lot of military options on the table,” she said.

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(Update) Action Alert: you have until September 30 to kill this zombie ‘Trumpcare’ bill

Yesterday I posted an Action Alert: you have until September 30 to kill this zombie ‘Trumpcare’ bill.

Steve Benen doubles down on this action alert today. Senate Dems issue a ‘red alert’ on Republican repeal efforts:

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a “red alert” to health care advocates late Friday, and we’ve seen similar sentiments from Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand‏ (D-N.Y.), and Al Franken (D-Minn.). Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told health care proponents, “Drop what you are doing to start calling, start showing up, start descending on DC.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has been focused on his single-payer proposal, but he added yesterday, “Our immediate concern is to beat back yet another disastrous Republican proposal to throw millions of people off health insurance.”

Among opinion leaders, progressive voices like the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne and the New York Times’ Paul Krugman both devoted their columns today to warning the public that the threat to the existing health care system is quite real.

Dylan Scott at Vox.com reports that Governor Doug Ducey, the ice cream man hired by Koch industries to run their Southwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Arizona, has announced his support for the zombie “Trumpcare” bill — before he has any idea of what its effects are — potentially giving cover to Senator John McCain to once again demonstrate that he is not a man of principles — “regular order! “– but a partisan political hack. John McCain might have just received permission to vote for Obamacare repeal:

The Senate’s longshot Obamacare repeal bill gained more momentum Monday after receiving a big endorsement: Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

The governor’s position matters because Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has said his governor’s support was necessary for the senator to back the plan, which would bring it one vote closer to the magical number of 50.

Ducey said that he would support the bill from Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), which would turn much of Obamacare’s funding into block grants for states with few strings attached. The bill would also place a federal spending cap on Medicaid, which is jointly funded by the states and feds, for the first time. That has caused many governors, who administer Medicaid, to balk.

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Anti-Public School Lecture Set at Koch-Funded UofA Class in Tucson

Assistant Professor Jonathan Anomaly

Assistant Professor Jonathan Anomaly

The Koch Brothers “Freedom Center” lecture against public education and in favor of privatization of education is set for Thursday, Sept. 21 at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

The dark-money Charles G. Koch foundation donated $1 million to the UofA to create the “Center for the Philosophy of Freedom,” which is a think tank designed to turn students into future lobbyists for the right-wing, anti-education foundation.

The lecture, entitled “Public Goods and Education,” will be delivered by libertarian professor Jonathan Anomaly in Social Sciences 332 from 12:30 to 1:45 pm on Sept. 21. Anomaly was imported in 2017 from Duke University, where he founded the Heterodox Academy website, set up to fight a perceived liberal bias in universities.

Because the lecture is political propaganda, it has caused concern among Tucson’s elected leaders. The Koch Brothers’ extreme right-wing agenda has sabotaged public education in the state and promoted school vouchers to funnel taxpayer money into for-profit private and religious schools.

In August, more than 111,000 Arizona parents and voters signed petitions circulated by Save Our Schools Arizona in opposition to a new state law creating school vouchers that undermine public schools. The measure to veto the law is set to be on a referendum ballot in November 2018.

The abstract of Assistant Professor Anomaly’s talk describes education as a “good,” like a box of cereal, which students “consume.” The lecture makes a bogus economic analysis of  “markets for education,” as if it were a product to be bought and sold.

The lecture is a diatribe against unions and “bureaucrats with monopoly power.” It is a clear example of how dark money politics are subverting higher education in Arizona.
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BICAS moved to new location on N. 7th Avenue

Bicycle Inter-Community Art & Salvage (BICAS) store has moved to 2001 N. 7th Avenue, south of  Grant Rd, east of Stone Ave.  They had a big blast shop warming party last night, which we attended, with raffle prizes, tours, beer from Dragoon Brewery, refreshments from Whole Foods market, together with lots of well wishers and bike patrons.  Reasons for the recent September move from the Citizens Warehouse at 44 W. 6th St.  are explained below:

“Our move was prompted by the Downtown Links roadway that will leave us without a parking lot and make access more difficult.

Our new location, which we purchased rather than leased, is a block east of Stone Avenue and four blocks south of Grant Road.”

More info: http://bicas.org/.

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Action Alert: you have until September 30 to kill this zombie ‘Trumpcare’ bill

The Senate parliamentarian told senators that Tea-Publicans’ ability to pass an Obamacare replacement with just 51 votes expires at the end of September. Repealing Obamacare Just Got Even More Complicated. It was not entirely clear to me whether the Continuing Resolution (CR) that Congress passed a couple of weeks ago would extend this deadline, but everything I have read since indicates that the September 30 deadline remains in effect.

OK, zombie hunters. Last week Tea-Publicans introduced their desperation zombie “Trumpcare” bill. You know what you have to do.

Steve Benen explains, The final fight of the Republican health care crusade has arrived:

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) formally unveiled the only remaining Republican plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system.

NBC News obtained an advanced draft of the proposal, which has been percolating for a couple of months.

The 23-page summary draft and an explanation of funding, which Graham’s office confirmed is authentic, attempts to achieve parity in federal funding between states that expanded Medicaid and those that did not by 2026. That division was one that helped to kill the Senate’s efforts because senators from expansion states tended to oppose the legislation in its previous versions due to the roll-back of the Medicaid expansion.

The bill also provides federal money to states to implement their own health care plan as opposed to one system for all 50 states that exists under Obamacare.

We’ve discussed many of the profound flaws in this plan before, and we can go into more detail once the legislation is available for scrutiny. For now, however, let’s consider whether the Graham-Cassidy plan has a credible chance at success.

Note: There are at least 46 Tea-Publicans who would vote for a blank piece of paper, sight unseen, if they are told it repeals Obamacare,  consequences to Americans, the health care system, and the economy be damned.

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