OK so we’ve had a series of god awful laws passed recently, namely open carry in which it will soon be legal in Texas for gun owners to openly wear their guns in public. Big guns, small guns, long guns, very long guns and penis replacement guns. Few of us wanted this travesty of a law passed, especially those of us in large urban areas, but oh well. The Tea Party Republican and the Texas Taliban lawmakers don’t pay much attention to much of the public’s needs and desires. For all are far too busy sharing steaks, beer and golf with the NRA and all lobbies known to the once great state of Texas. Lots of money changes hands.
Fortunately, in Houston, various businesses will shun killing machines on their premises. So far the Galleria, (a mega complex of high end shops, hotels and restaurants), H.E.B., a major grocery store chain, and Whole Foods Market have said no thank you to the potential for gun toting folks to kill its customers while shopping. Simply because a gun toter might be angry or is a sociopath. Remember, this is a lax regulation state with few resources for mental health care.
This gun insanity, of course, falls on top of the right’s various ongoing wars waged against women’s reproductive rights, Planned Parenthood healthcare services including cancer screenings, and voter’s rights. One can say this is a typical operating system in a red state that has been taken over by right wing tea party and religious extremists.
Voter suppression efforts, thanks to the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Right’s Act, low voter turnout and voter apathy delivered this hot mess. Along with a lot of fear mongering from right wing hate radio talkers like Rush Limbaugh and his colleagues. Our Governor and other Republican leaders are known to parrot the hate messages. Remember the fear mongering over U.S. military exercises in Texas, i.e. Jade Helm? Our Governor did not do himself or the state proud. Nor did he show the best of us when Greg Abbott said he would not allow Syrian refugees, fleeing from the depths of hell, to settle in Texas.
Knowing all of this, however, at least most people in Texas, right and left, like to think they are represented by politicians that are fiscally wise even when ideologically blinded by bigotry.
But in the case of Obamacare the total opposite is true. In fact, fiscal recklessness and abject irresponsibility are the driving forces behind the state’s refusal to expand federal Medicaid. There is proof in favor of this argument posted in the article below. Texas voters should wake up and train their laser focused attention on an unforgivable decision our lawmakers made with regard to access to affordable health care coverage in the state.
Texas loses on Obamacare while California embraces it.
A dumb state verses a smart one. Quite frankly the dumb state chooses to be dumb because many of the Republican lawmakers are unapologetic bigots. Thanks to Donald Trump, the GOP Presidential frontrunner, right wing politicians no longer need to speak in thinly veiled code or quietly blow the usual racist, xenophobic and misogynist dog whistles. It’s now OK for Republicans to openly hate Mexicans, Muslims, disabled people, women, African Americans and everyone else who is not white and Waspish. But anyone who has listened carefully for the past decade or so, the Texas GOP has always tacitly embraced this very same message.
In short, the refusal to accept federally expanded Medicaid is one way for right wing Texas to stick it to that black guy in the White House. Donald Trump convinced the right wing base that our POTUS is a Muslim who was not born the U.S. The craven Texas GOP has tacitly endorsed this hateful message.
But mean spirited spite exacts a hefty price. And it can cost lives. Not that the Party of the Cruel and Mean give a hoot.
In Texas, insurers lost a combined $377 million in the first year of HealthCare.gov, according to claims in a federal risk-sharing program. In California, insurers contributed over $180 million in profit to the same program.
It’s still early days for the Affordable Care Act, and about two-thirds of insurers lost money in 2014.
California is an outlier, generating half the total profits nationwide. But Texas is an outlier, too, just in the other direction. And the divergence is no accident, because the nation’s two biggest states took much different approaches.
Stupid vs. Smart
While Texas leaders fought Obamacare and railed against it at every turn, the Golden State embraced the law and created its own exchange, Covered California.
When not blinded by bigotry.
It opted to become an “active purchaser,” negotiating with carriers, standardizing benefits and picking plans for the exchange. California also required policyholders to move into the new marketplace even though many resisted.
When HealthCare.gov had its disastrous kickoff two years ago, President Barack Obama said people could keep their existing plans rather than buy new ones on the exchange. That affected insurers, because it didn’t force everyone — healthy and sick — into the same pool.
Consumers facing expensive claims could sign up for plans with better benefits and bigger networks. If they were healthy, they could stay with their skinny plan and pay less. In 35 states, including Texas, many re-upped before the end of 2013 to take advantage.
California rejected Obama’s proposal and took some heat. But that “short-term political sacrifice” produced long-term market stability, researchers for Covered California wrote in the Health Affairs blog.
That decision helped create a more diverse mix of customers. And “California had the healthiest risk pool of all 50 states,” an actuary for Blue Shield of California told the Los Angeles Times this month.
Texas insurers took a financial beating in 2014. To the point that Blue Cross Blue Shield no longer offers PPO’s as part of its coverage. This decision has been especially devastating for many patients, especially those in the middle of cancer treatment at one of the nation’s top cancer centers, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Most if not all HMO’s in Houston do not include MD Anderson as one of its providers. But hey. This is Texas where what is good for business is good for Texas. Not so much for its residents, though. Especially its sick residents.
The California Blue contributed $107 million into the temporary risk corridors program. That program collects insurer profits above a certain threshold and pays out to carriers with excessive losses.
For 2014, loss claims topped profits by $2.5 billion, and Texas insurers accounted for 15 percent of them. Consumers may not shed any tears for money-losing insurance companies, but it’s one sign the market is shaky.
And you know what comes next. For 2016, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, the state’s largest insurer, dropped its individual PPO and offered only a more limited HMO — with premiums rising an average of 19 percent.
Naturally the Texas GOP would like to blame the President and Obamacare for the increases in premiums and lack of care at the leading cancer treatment center and at other fine medical institutions. But the blame should placed squarely on our lawmakers in Austin for making bad and irresponsible decisions with regard to the state’s health care insurance industry. If it can work in California it should work in Texas, too.
Texas lawmakers chose to sabotage Obamacare, instead.
Scott & White increased exchange premiums by over 32 percent. Humana’s up 21 percent, and Cigna and UnitedHealth, over 16 percent.
Higher rates affect about 1 million Texans who buy coverage on HealthCare.gov and also increase federal subsidies that offset the costs.
In California, exchange premiums are increasing by a weighted average of 4 percent next year. California has also been a leader in reducing the uninsured, extending coverage to many more people than Texas.
Several key trends improved in California in 2015, researchers wrote, indicating the exchange “has enrolled enough people, and enough healthy people, to stabilize premiums.”
Why is healthcare coverage is such a mess in Texas? The state has ranked highest in the number of uninsured residents, for one thing. So when Obamacare kicked in, many who had pre-existing conditions and were therefore unable to obtain coverage, suddenly had access. There were a lot of very sick people in dire need of medical attention and long-term treatment. The state had been neglecting these sick folks for decades.
In Texas, many factors led to insurance losses. Start with pent-up demand after millions of residents went without insurance for years — or with plans so skimpy they didn’t dare go to the doctor.
Once they got affordable coverage in 2014, many flocked to providers for everything from routine physicals to costly knee replacements, dialysis and transplants.
The main culprits to the healthcare mess in Texas? You guessed it. Then Governor Rick Perry and the Texas GOP sabotaged Obamacare from the get go.
Texas politicians didn’t help the situation. They put up hurdles for federal navigators who helped customers select plans, and they’ve never encouraged enrollment. Not surprisingly, fewer Texans get coverage on the exchange: just 31 percent of those eligible compared with 47 percent in California, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
So, folks, don’t pay attention to our craven lawmakers when they start railing against Obamacare. Again. Stop listening to pandering lies from shills for the insurance industry, none other than Senator John Cornyn.
Turn off Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and Fox News.
Pick up the phone, instead, and give whomever “represents” you in Austin a version of truth/accountability hell that is well-deserved and long over-due.
The Texas GOP threw you under the bus.
It’s been doing it for a very long time.
Make ‘em work for you.
Stick up for yourselves for a change.
Voting would be a good beginning.
Unlike California, Texas won’t be ahead of the curve.