President-elect Donald J. Trump’s infantile Twitterdumps continue to deflect attention away from his terrifying choices to fill key leadership positions in his administration. We have already written about his selection of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R. Ala.), a man whose racist past kept him out of a minor federal judgeship in the 1980’s, as attorney general. Yesterday we expressed our horror at his selection of anti-public school activist Betsy DeVos, who we doubt has ever set foot in a public school, as secretary of education.
Now, in addition to a Trump Justice Department headed by a racist Alabama senator with a long history of not enforcing civil rights laws, and a Trump Department of Education presided over by a woman who actively seeks to de-fund public education, we can look forward to a Trump Department of Health and Human Services led by a Georgia congressman, Tom Price, who has made a political career out of seeking to abolish the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and privatize Medicare and drastically reduce Medicaid expenditures. But wait, there’s more! Trump has also selected Seema Verma to run the section of HHS that deals with Medicare and Medicaid. Verma was a consultant who helped Governor and Vice President-elect Mike Pence in his successful efforts to curtail Medicaid benefits in Indiana.
The Washington Post describes Price this way:
As HHS secretary, Price would be the nation’s top health official and the incoming administration’s point person for dismantling the sprawling 2010 health-care law, which Trump promised during his campaign to start dismantling on his first day in the Oval Office. The 62-year-old lawmaker, who represents a wealthy suburban Atlanta district, has played a leading role in Republican opposition to the law and has helped draft several comprehensive bills to replace it. The GOP-led House has voted five dozen times to eliminate all or part of the ACA but has never had a chance to accomplish its goal as long as President Obama has been in the White House.
A former chairman of the conservative Republican study committee, Price has been affiliated with the House tea party caucus and has lambasted what he termed a “vile liberal agenda that is threatening everything we hold dear as Americans.” His congressional website describes him as “devoted to limited government and lower spending.”
Seema Verma entire consulting career has been to cut Medicaid benefits to the poor. According to NPR:
Verma comes to the job with extensive Medicaid experience. Her consulting firm, SVC, Inc., worked closely with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to design Indiana’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The expansion, known as the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0, went into effect early last year, and Verma’s involvement in it may prove important as Congress and the Trump administration, including the Vice-president elect, make decisions on the future of Obamacare.
Indiana’s unique Medicaid expansion was designed to appeal to conservatives. HIP 2.0 asks covered people to make a small monthly payment to access health insurance. A missed payment can result in six-month lockout from insurance coverage. Those provisions aren’t allowed under traditional Medicaid, but Indiana got a federal waiver to implement them.
Other Republican-led states, such as Iowa, Ohio and Kentucky, have contracted with Verma’s firm to help submit their own Medicaid expansion proposals to the federal government that also include conservative provisions such as asking recipients to pay for some of their care, requiring them to work or to be actively looking for work.
These are not subtle choices to fill these roles. Trump’s picks of Price and Verma indicates that he plans to abolish Obamacare, throwing the 20 million formerly uninsured Americans who obtained coverage through Obamacare back to the ranks of the uninsured. It also indicates that the Tea Party dream of cutting “entitlements” like Medicaid is likely to come true during the Trump administration. Medicaid expansion is a goner for sure, and those lower-income people who qualified for the expansion in states that accepted the expansion (not Alabama, of course, because Obama) will no longer be eligible for Medicaid-financed healthcare.
In other words, screw poor people, because the rich need tax cuts. As our friends over at Wonkette put it:
Price’s Obamacare “replacement” is, according to Vox, simply full of great ideas, doing much more to “benefit the young, healthy, and rich — and disadvantages the sick, old, and poor.” It would provide fewer protections for people with pre-existing conditions than even Paul Ryan’s shitty Obamacare replacement, and would completely repeal the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, so hooray, more people with treatable chronic conditions will die and reduce the surplus population. Let them be quick about it, too, because there are tax cuts to get to. Once the poors start seeing their family members dying, maybe they’ll get off their lazy asses and get jobs as venture capitalists, so they can have a health savings account.
We need to stop worrying about Trump’s childish tweets and start worrying about the real harm the Trump administration is planning to visit on the poor and working people in this country.
People are going to die so the rich can pay lower taxes.