Joanne pre-NYMHM: 5 Apr 17

4/5/17 news-you-may-have-missed (the I Survived Bronchitis edition):

(1) First, some good news! Researchers have found 90% fewer Scottish women have HPV since the vaccine was made available in 2008. The human papilloma virus accounts for many cervical, vulvovaginal, penile, anal, and head and neck cancers. The vaccine is turning out to be more effective than predicted. The story (linked in the comments) talks about girls, but boys should also be vaccinated (to protect both them and any potential partners). Make sure you or your kids get the HPV vaccine if it’s age-appropriate. [BBC, CDC]

(2) NYPD accessed Black Lives Matter activists’ texts during mass protests over the death of Eric Garner in 2014 and 2015. It appears some undercover officers infiltrated BLM planning groups for months, potentially in defiance of their own rules regarding intelligence-gathering on first amendment activities. [Guardian]

(3) Bannon bumped from National Security Council (NSC). Yeah, really. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and intelligence director are restored to their posts on the council, and the energy secretary, CIA director, and United Nations ambassador have been added. The Homeland Security Council is also put under Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster. (Gen. McMaster is behind all this. Haven’t seen any mcmastermind jokes yet so let me be the first to make them. Hashtag dad jokes.) [BBC, NYT]

(4) I missed it at the time, but Trump signed an executive order in January reducing funding to the UN. With the drought in Nigeria, Yemen, south Sudan, and Somalia, and the supplies crisis in the refugee camps Bidi Bidi (Uganda) and Dadaab (Kenya), cutting this funding will kill thousands.

Maybe having the UN ambassador on the NSC will help. [HRW, NYT, Guardian, UNHCR]

(5) At the end of March, House Rep Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) released an update to the Whip Watch app, which provides live updates and news on what’s happening on the House floor, including live vote totals, party breakdowns, and time remaining. The app is available to the public.

(6) Facebook is planning to block from re-posting any post identified (through the Report tool) as an intimate picture posted without the subject’s permission, in an attempt to combat revenge porn. [BBC]

(7) Neonicotinoid pesticides have been found in US drinking water, and in 48 different rivers and streams. These are the insecticides that may be causing bee populations so much trouble, though we don’t know for sure what the toxicity might be in humans. Activated carbon filtration systems may help. [BBC, ACS]

(8) Trump’s EPA greenlighting chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to neurological damage. Countdown to when that’s in the drinking water, too. [Mother Jones]

(9) North Carolina repealed their transphobic bathroom bill. The repeal is being criticized by civil rights groups since the preemption of municipal-level nondiscrimination and living wage ordinances is still there. Weirdly, this is all to appease the NCAA so they won’t pull championships from the state. People’s civil rights are being decided based on what a college athletics association wants. That’s effing bizarre, America. Get your shit together. [CNN, Guardian, IndyWkWaPo]

(10) Student loan debt collectors are nicer people than our Republican administration: guaranty agencies are declining to charge the higher fees reinstated by the government. [Consumer Reports]

(11) Trump is donating his first quarter’s salary ($78,333.32) to the National Park Service. Instead of, you know, just not cutting their budget to begin with. His salary isn’t even in the same order of magnitude as the cuts ($1.5 billion or 12%, not all of which is parks, but still). [NPR, NYT]

(12) During the 2016 election, Russia hired 1,000 people as part of a massive anti-Clinton disinformation propaganda campaign in key states. (Related: fifth graders can be taught to spot fake news in a few minutes.)  [BBC, Independent]

(13) Marco Rubio was also targeted by Russian propagandists because he was hostile to Russian interests, according to ex-FBI counterterrorism consultant Clint Watts. [Daily Beast]

(14) Last week, Raw Story published an exhaustive timeline of Trump-Russia connections, starting in 1979. O.o

(15)

“I tried to represent an undocumented man rounded up by ICE. I couldn’t even find him.”

Even if you do become a US Citizen, even if you were born a citizen, if you’re not white, you can be swept up by ICE. This is not a new thing, but is getting worse. Deportation numbers are falling, though, which is weird until you realize that the point of rounding people up is to make money for private prisons, and you don’t make money off people who’ve been deported. Additionally, ICE is targeting sanctuary cities, punishing people not according to what they’ve done – but by the politics of their municipality. [CNN, Denver Post, GuardianSlate, Splinter]

(16) Last month, State Department officers were complaining about being left in the dark while Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner runs the things they’re supposed to, like we’re a goddamn banana republic. China is reportedly working through Kushner instead of the State Dept.
Our negotiating position with China is we’ll endorse their One Belt, One Road initiative and ignore domestic human rights abuses, not to mention Taiwan and Tibet, and in exchange we’ll go further into debt to them.

“the Chinese are prepared to offer as-yet-unspecified investment proposals”

WaPo

This makes Trump’s people look poo-flingingly stupid, but they’re just venal: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have a lot of business interests in China. [Atlantic, The Hill, NYMag]

(17) Jared & Ivanka are still benefiting from their business empire, including the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Ethics experts worry people will curry favor with the administration by staying there. [NYT]

(18) 2017 Hugo Awards have been announced. On a personal note, I’m excited to see Ken Liu (who was in my anthologies How to Live on Other Planets and The Museum of All Things Awesome And That Go Boom) and Likhain (who did the beautiful cover art for Sunvault) in the finalists for novel and fan art respectively.

(19) Sea levels are rising around the world. In the US, the Miami area is likely to see a roughly 8-inch rise from 1992 levels by 2030 and 31 to 61 inches by 2100. That’s at least 2 1/2 ft to a little over 5 ft. Most of Miami Beach’s buildings sit at an elevation of 2 to 6 feet. [NWF, NOAA]

In-depth discussion at the BBC, including this worrying bit:

“Former employees [of the Florida governor] have said they even were told not to utter the phrase ‘climate change’.”

(20) In a bonkers move, the Trump administration is considering requiring tourists/travelers (including travelers from countries currently in the visa waiver program, like Australia, Canada, France, Japan, and the UK) to provide passwords, financial data, and mobile phone contacts. Also, spouses of immigrants on H-1B visas could lose their right to work (which would be particularly devastating to academic institutions and science research), because why not. And, DHS is working on an ideological test, asking questions about “sanctity of human life,” how they view the treatment of women, and if they believe in honor killings. [Guardian]

I’m sure terrorists will be totally honest and we’ll finally have a foolproof way to catch them.

(21) The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that December to February, spending by foreigners on travel in the U.S. is down 10.2%. [Bloomberg]

#newsyoumayhavemissed

[Note from the future: NYMHM grew out of these public posts from Joanne Merriam’s Facebook account. We retain them here in archives to provide a record going back to the beginning of Trump’s presidency.]

Joanne pre-NYMHM: 14 Feb 2017

2/14/17: With the nonstop whirligig of outrage, you may have missed a few things happening. In no particular order, and assuming you heard about Flynn:

(1) White House comments line re-opened: 202-456-1111 [NYT]

(2) Confirming my sense that this administration is either not hiring administrative staff or not allowing them to do their jobs (a basic competency test that goes beyond partisan issues), the White House has been posting the wrong versions of many of the president’s executive orders to its website. That is, the version we see online doesn’t match the official version sent to the Federal Register. [USA Today]

(3) Trump handled the news of North Korea’s latest missile launch in front of many uncleared civilians at dinner at Mar-a-Lago. House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz has asked the White House for an explanation. [WaPo, House.gov]

(4) Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and notably a Republican who was just re-elected and doesn’t have to worry about being primaried from the right for six years, has called for a thorough investigation into Trump-Russia and Flynn-Russia connections, but the House (under House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, both currently keeping their fingers in their ears) is responsible for investigations, so who knows if this will come to anything. Sens. Cornyn and Graham now joining Blunt. [CNN (1, 2)]

(5) Divisions are brewing in the Catholic church between Pope Francis and American Cardinal Burke, who is basically a member of the alt-right. [Guardian, NYT, WaPo]

(6) The Secret Service director will step down, giving Trump a chance to select his own security chief. [WaPo]

(7) The NSA may be withholding information from the President because they don’t trust him. Which is simultaneously comforting, and setting a terrifying precedent. [Observer]

(8) By a vote of 23-15, Republicans voted not to request President Trump’s tax returns from the Treasury Department. [WaysMeans]

(9) Russian spy ship apparently patrolling off the East coast of Delaware. [Fox]

(10) North Korea leader’s brother, Kim Jong Nam, killed at airport in Malaysia. Current NK regime had previously tried to have him killed, and it seems likely that they are behind his death. [AP, BBC]

(11) White House staff so fearful of being accused of talking to the media that some are using chat app Confide to erase messages as soon as they’re read, violating the Federal Records Act. [WaPo]

(12) The very first piece of legislation passed by Republicans and signed by Trump? Weakening Dodd Frank by repealing anti-corruption rule that requires oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments in exchange for access to natural resources. That was their top priority. I wonder if Russia wants to sell us some gas or something. [USA Today]

[Note from the future: NYMHM grew out of these public posts from Joanne Merriam’s Facebook account. We retain them here in archives to provide a record going back to the beginning of Trump’s presidency.]

Joanne pre-NYMHM: 31 Jan 2017

(1) “The total cost, per American, of the following 17 programs said to be on the chopping block is $22.36 per year—of which more than a third comes from a single clean-energy program. By contrast, housing subsidies, like the mortgage interest deduction, which are disproportionately used by the wealthy, cost $296.29 per American.” [Time]

(2) Basically the title says it all. “Donald Trump Shuffles National Security Council: Executive measure adds Steve Bannon while removing Director of National Intelligence, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff” [WSJ]

(3) Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) will introduce two bills to end Trump’s immigration ban and prevent him from ordering it again. [The Hill]

(4) Good news! 

a. “The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to exempt anyone it deems necessary for public health and safety, including frontline caregivers,” acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Snyder said in a signed memorandum. [Disabled Veterans]

b. “A federal judge has granted a stay on deportations for people who arrived in the US with valid visas but were detained on entry, following President Donald Trump’s executive order to halt travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. . . . a partial block to the broader executive order, with the judge stopping short of a broader ruling on its constitutionality.” [Guardian]

c. “Senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security initially interpreted Trump’s order to not apply to green card holders from the seven banned countries. Trump White House overruled that reading. . . . But a federal judge in New York temporarily blocked part of Trump’s order late on Saturday night, ruling that citizens of the seven countries who hold valid visas and have already arrived in the United States cannot be removed from the United States.” [CNN]

d. Uber has pledged $3 million to a legal defense fund for its drivers affected by the immigration ban, after #DeleteUber trended on Twitter. [Verge]

e. The ACLU for $24 million in donations in reaction to the travel ban. That’s six times more than they generally make in a year. [CNN, NBC]

f. The HHS/EPA/USDA gag order was lifted. [NYT, Vox, Scientific American, The Hill]

[Note from the future: NYMHM grew out of thesepublic posts from Joanne Merriam’s Facebook account. We retain them here inarchives to provide a record going back to the beginning of Trump’spresidency.]

Joanne pre-NYMHM: 26 Jan 2017

(1) Putin has manipulated the UK and the US into electing people who are, shall we say, inclined to view Putin’s policies positively.

Now Buzzfeed reports that Trump supporters are organizing a massive campaign of fake Facebook and Twitter users with fake diversity (“ideally young, cute girl, gay, Jew, basically anyone who isn’t supposed to be pro-[FN]”) to attack current French presidential frontrunner François Fillon and to make right-wing Marine Le Pen and the National Front (FN) seem more popular.

They’re coordinating to make hashtags they choose trend, and providing support so trolls can participate without actually speaking French.

They quote one of the trolls as saying there’s no Russian influence, but how much do you trust the judgement of people who are pro-fascist because it’s funny? I mean they don’t even have the courage of their convictions. And it doesn’t even matter, in a sense. It’s not like the FN will be anti-Putin.

Now, who are the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council? China, the UK, the US, the Russian Federation, and France.

(2)

“Aetna made its decision at least partially in response to a federal antitrust lawsuit blocking its proposed $37-billion merger with Humana. Aetna threatened federal officials with the pullout before the lawsuit was filed, and followed through on its threat once it was filed.”

U.S. judge finds that Aetna deceived the public about its reasons for quitting Obamacare,” LA Times.

(3) I’m frightened. “Donald Trump Will Publish A Weekly List Of Crimes Committed By Immigrants & We Should Have Seen This Coming,” Bustle.

(4) The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has postponed the vote on Trump’s education pick Betsy DeVos. The hearing will now be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 31.

The Washington Post reports Ethics Director Walter M. Shaub Jr. says a full vetting of extremely wealthy individuals, such as DeVos, could take weeks, if not months, but her ethics information was only made available to Senators Friday.

[Note from the future: NYMHM grew out of these public posts from Joanne Merriam’s Facebook account. We retain them here in archives to provide a record going back to the beginning of Trump’s presidency.]

Joanne pre-NYMHM: 22 Jan 2017

A Guttmacher Institute study says that the U.S. rate of abortions is at its lowest level since 1973.

Let’s talk a little bit about anti-abortion politicians who want to limit access to contraceptives. If your actual political goal was to lower the rate of abortions, you should advocate on behalf of the ACA (which made contraceptives a lot more affordable) or a more-universal replacement (which would drive the rate even lower), and Planned Parenthood (a major contraceptive supplier, especially to low-income women, who are most likely to need abortions). The abortion rate has been going down in part because of the ACA (sources in comments).

But Republican politicians are against all of those things.

I believe that Republican politicians know that their policies – which are the main reason most anti-abortion voters vote for them – actually *increase* the rate of abortion, thereby worsening the very problem that gets them re-elected. It’s a long con, which creates a feedback loop that keeps them in power, not a sincere effort to prevent abortions.

SOURCES:

  1. American Medical Association’s newsletter: “…a report from the Guttmacher Institute revealed that ‘the rate of abortions in the United States has fallen to its lowest level since the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.’ …study authors Rachel Jones and Jenna Jerman ‘said the latest phase of the decline was likely the result of two main factors: the increased availability of affordable, long-lasting contraceptives that have reduced unintended pregnancies, and the surge of abortion restrictions in many states that have forced some clinics to close and hindered many women’s access to the procedure.'” 
  2. AP: “Guttmacher’s state-by-state breakdown showed big declines in abortions in some liberal states, such as California, that protect abortion rights, and also in some conservative states, such as Texas, that have passed laws to restrict abortions. …progress in reducing unintended pregnancies could be derailed by efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, a major supplier of contraceptives, and to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which greatly expanded health-insurance coverage of contraceptives.” 
  3. WaPo: “Abortion falls to lowest level since Roe v. Wade”
  4. USA Today: “U.S. abortion rate drops to lowest level since Roe v. Wade”

[Note from the future: NYMHM grew out of these public posts from Joanne Merriam’s Facebook account. We retain them here in archives to provide a record going back to the beginning of Trump’s presidency.]

Joanne pre-NYMHM: 13 Jan 2017

A couple stories kind-of-more about journalism than about what they’re reporting on.

Matt Taibbi weighs in at Rolling Stone:

The only solution is an immediate unveiling of all the facts and an urgent public investigation. A half-assed whispering campaign a week and a half from a Trump presidency, with BuzzFeed at the center of the action, isn’t going to cut it. We need to know what the likes of Clapper and Comey know, and we need it all now, before it’s too late.

And Russian journalist Alexey Kovalev on Medium:

Mr President, is there love in your heart? Who you will be celebrating New Year’s Eve with? What’s your favorite food? “Questions” of this sort, sure to melt Putin’s heart, typically come from women working for small regional publications. . . . Another type of softball questions is hyperlocal issues that a president isn’t even supposed to be dealing with. . . . He will scold the local authorities and order to have a new road built. . . . But there will also be one token critic who will be allowed to ask a “sharp” question, only to be drowned in a copious amount of bullshit, and the man on the stage will always be the winner (“See? I respect the media and free speech”). 

[Note from the future: NYMHM grew out of these public posts from Joanne Merriam’s Facebook account. We retain them here in archives to provide a record going back to the beginning of Trump’s presidency.]

Joanne pre-NYMHM: 12 Jan 2017

The Republicans in the Senate passed the beginning of ACA/Obamacare repeal in the middle of the night. It now needs to pass the House, probably Friday. Raise hell with your legislators. By phone. Ask for a written response.

Still no sign of replacement so they’re voting on a pig in a poke. Without the ACA (otherwise known as Obamacare), we lose the measures that pay for contraception, children staying on their parents’ plans until age 26, and coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Edited to add: and it’ll impact the Medicare ‘donut hole.’

[Note from the future: NYMHM grew out of these public posts from Joanne Merriam’s Facebook account. We retain them here in archives to provide a record going back to the beginning of Trump’s presidency.]

Joanne pre-NYMHM: 11 Jan 2017

I’m seeing people talking about the lack of ethics agreement letters for Trump’s cabinet nominees as evidence of corruption, and maybe it is, I don’t know (nobody knows, that’s the whole point of those background checks, so we know), but I think it’s also-or-instead that the Trump team values loyalty and ideology over competence.

The behind-the-scenes low-level administrative work of making sure there’s no last-minute scrambles and of calling nominees (or, likely, nominees’ assistants) to make sure they filed everything, appears to kind of magically happen because admins like me make it happen, smoothly and anonymously, and it’s… not happening… which says to me that Trump’s team can’t hold on to competent staff, or that he doesn’t hire them to begin with, or that he overwhelms the ones he has so that it’s impossible for them to do a good job.

The amount of harm that can be done by simply not knowing what the hell you’re doing when it comes to the details of governing is potentially catastrophic.

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about:

In other news:

  1. Making America Irradiate Again: “Trump Is Letting Go the People in Charge of Maintaining Our Nuclear Arsenal,” Gizmodo.
  2. “No people ever recognize their dictator in advance,” she reflected in 1935. “He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument [of] the Incorporated National Will.” Applying the lesson to the U.S., she wrote, “When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American.” from “How Journalists Covered the Rise of Mussolini and Hitler,” Smithsonian.
  3. Read the whole thing, but here’s the money quote (see what I did there?): “immediately repealing the tax aspects of Obamacare will put an average of $33,000 in the hands of the richest 1% in 2017. Unfortunately, however, those earning between $10,000 and $75,000 per year will actually see their tax bills increase if the Obamacare taxes are immediately repealed” from “Obamacare Repeal Results In Tax Cuts For The Rich; Tax Increases And Lost Insurance For The Rest,” Forbes.
  4. We overestimate how conservative our neighbors are: “On average, Canadians believe a quarter of the population think it’s wrong to have sex before marriage. In reality, only 15% of us think you should get hitched before hooking up. . . . Those are all findings from international polling company Ipsos’s annual Perils of Perception survey. In 40 countries, the firm compared people’s perceptions of demographic fact, with actual demographic fact. And in most cases, found that people are way off.” The US was the 5th least accurate country (of 40) at understanding demographics. [CBC]

And, about the whole Russia thing:

Finally, Putin’s strategy of interfering in Brexit and the US election seems to be part of a pattern to split the UK (and probably other countries) off from Europe, and to exploit existing regional tensions to splinter the US (through, amongst other things, secession movements in California and Texas). Now there’s credible allegations that Trump owes money to Russian mobsters and/or that Putin has compromising personal and financial information on him that’s potentially blackmailable, and that Trump’s campaign traded foreign policy promises for the Wikileaks-hacked DNC communications.

It sounds like a Tom Clancy novel. It feels like we’re being led by the hand to war. It also feels like failing to push back against Russian propaganda and Trump’s inevitable pro-Russian policies might result in a splintered USA and a broken EU, with Russia and China the only superpowers left in the world. There’s got to be a middle way, where we can be both unified *and* peaceful.

I want to say something really pithy about this, but then I get overwhelmed by despair.

More reading on this:

  • John McCain passes dossier alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts to FBI [Guardian]
  • Russia spreading fake news and forged docs in Sweden: report [The Local.se]
  • From His Home in Russia, Calexit Leader Plots California Secession [KQED]
  • Declassified report on Russian hacking during the 2016 election [dni.gov (pdf)]
  • Happy New Year From Your Friend Vladimir Putin [Esquire
  • U.S. [Obama administration] to Blacklist 5 Russians, a Close Putin Aide Among Them [NYT]
  • Was Donald Trump bailed out of bankruptcy by Russia crime bossses  [Daily Kos]
  • Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him [CNN
  • Donald Trump’s legal team ‘won Russia Law Firm of the Year award’ [Independent]

[Note from the future: NYMHM grew out of these public posts from Joanne Merriam’s Facebook account. We retain them here in archives to provide a record going back to the beginning of Trump’s presidency.]

Joanne pre-NYMHM: 16 Dec 2016 (Repeal and Replace)

President-Elect Trump and the Republican-led Congress are talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act, and then letting it sort of sit around still being in effect until they come up with something to replace it. This means a vote to repeal will happen in a policy vacuum.

They’re not going to simultaneously repeal it and replace it like they promised during the general election, because it turns out that you need something to replace it *with* in order to do that, and all they have right now is a piece of paper on which Trump has scrawled, “this is going to be so great you guys it’s the best healthcare the greatest.”

Trump’s big ideas that he talked about during the election were: make healthcare premiums tax-deductible, eliminate the individual mandate, retain the ban on pre-existing condition clauses, retain keeping people on their parents’ insurance until age 26, convert Medicaid into a block-grant program, and remove barriers to selling health insurance across state lines.

*

Let’s talk about his ideas a little bit, ranked best to worst. (First off, a caveat: I work in healthcare as a frontline admin, and I read a lot because I’m interested in these issues, but I’m not an expert.)

Retain keeping people on their parents’ insurance until age 26:

This is good. (Oh god oh god I agree with Trump on something.)

Make healthcare premiums tax-deductible:

This is great for me and other people who pay taxes and have employers who provide good insurance, and kind of meaningless for the uninsured people who already don’t make enough money to pay taxes. It would help those small business owners and freelancers who have the cash liquidity to allow them to pay the premiums and then get paid back in a lump sum tax return. It would help the economy every April since people do tend to spend their tax rebates pretty quickly. It might make our deficit larger because of taking in fewer net taxes, I don’t know. I’m not against it, but as a proposed solution to a lack of coverage, it’s interesting as an example of Republicans (and Trump especially) not understanding what it’s like for people who live paycheck to paycheck.

Remove barriers to selling health insurance across state lines:

The theory is that insurers who can offer national plans regardless of where the patient lives will save money and reduce the price of insurance. One of the arguments against this is the “race to the bottom” one: insurers in states with a lot of tight regulations will get outbid by insurers in states with lax regulation, so effectively everybody in the country ends up under the laxest regulations. That’s not good, but I’m not sure that would actually happen – there’s no federal law (as far as I could find) preventing insurers from doing this, and there are some states that already allow out-of-state insurers but nonetheless have very few, so I presume insurers aren’t already doing it because it’s more hassle than it’s worth.

It’s a ton of work to set up the networks that would be needed in each location for this to work. I mean, my costs go way up if I try to see an out-of-network doctor. Just because somebody in (let’s say) New Hampshire has a really amazing insurance plan that’s cheap and includes every doctor in the state doesn’t mean that that plan would work for me, no matter how cheap it is, because I don’t want to travel to New Hampshire for care and that insurer may not have a good network of doctors set up in Tennessee.

I was able to find endorsements for this idea from Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, and Scott Walker, who all like to talk about states’ rights except for when they don’t care about states’ rights, like with this idea, which tramples all over states’ desire to regulate their own stuff.

Eliminate the individual mandate, and retain the ban on pre-existing condition clauses:

I’ve put these two ideas together even though Trump isn’t talking about them together, because the individual mandate (which I think a lot of people object to on individual-liberties grounds, including me) is what makes retaining the ban possible. The entire idea of insurance is to insure a population against adverse events. If you allow people to *enter* the insurance pool when they *have just had* an adverse event, there’s no particular incentive for young, generally healthy people (who don’t need a lot of care outside of emergencies and other adverse events) to maintain insurance coverage when they’re well. They can wait until they need it and buy it then, and because there’s no pre-existing condition clause, there’s nothing to prevent them from coming and going from the pool of insureds as it’s convenient for them. If the pool of insured people doesn’t include people who are generally healthy, then the cost of insurance inevitably goes up. So, I’m in the awkward position of defending the individual mandate, not because I like it, but because I can do math.

Convert Medicaid into a block-grant program:

Right now, the federal government requires states to cover certain groups and to provide certain benefits, and in return, it helps cover costs. Block grants would convert Medicaid into 50 programs (one per state) with the feds providing a pre-set amount of money to each one, and the states deciding how to run their own programs but also having to cover any costs over and above the grant. Trump is correct that block grants can be structured to save the federal government money – but in order for that to happen, either people have to lose coverage who currently have it, or states have to absorb the costs of those “savings.” Trump claims that money can be saved by “streamlining,” but creating 50 sets of administrators with 50 sets of rules which all gazillion insurers and hospitals have to now deal with is the opposite of streamlining. This is just a terrible idea from beginning to end.

*

So what’s going to happen?

Paul Ryan loves block grants, and Trump loves making other people pay for things that are his responsibility, so Medicaid might be screwed, unless Republican Governors talk them out of it. Probably we should all be calling our governors’ offices to express our opinions about this.

If the Republicans do some math, they’ll realize that the individual mandate is necessary unless we bring back pre-existing conditions clauses, which are very unpopular. Either they’ll retain the individual mandate, call it something else, and declare victory, or they’ll bow to the insurance companies and bring back pre-existing conditions clauses.

Mostly I expect them to fumble around with a few changes, but basically pass something that looks a lot like the ACA (which, let’s remember, started as Romneycare). They’ll rebrand it and swear up and down that it’s totally different.

The changes they do make will make insurers (/campaign donors) an absolute fuckton of money, and whether or not that makes things more expensive or less accessible to the general public won’t really factor into their decisions unless we hammer them on it as an electability issue. So we need to do that, because they’re about to turn a mediocre law into a terrible one.

[Note from the future: NYMHM grew out of these public posts from Joanne Merriam’s Facebook account. We retain them here in archives to provide a record going back to the beginning of Trump’s presidency.]

Joanne pre-NYMHM: 13 Dec 2016

  1. “…it has become clear that 75,000 votes in the counties with highly Democratic populations came back with no vote for President – but with votes for candidates lower down the ballot. This is what is referred to as an ‘undervote’ and is largely attributed to malfunctioning ballot reader machines. In a state that Trump won by 11,000 votes, this large number of undervotes could easily change the outcome of who won here.
    Incredibly, Michigan laws prohibit a recount if there are discrepancies in reconciling the numbers of votes against the poll books. Which is insane, of course. . . . Under pressure from Trump’s extensive and expensive legal team, a federal judge stopped the Michigan recount yesterday.” Why Every American Should Care About Michigan’s Canceled Recount
  2. Electoral College members demand information on Russian election hacking before Donald Trump vote,” Independent.
  3. U.S. Energy Department balks at Trump request for names on climate change,” Reuters: “This feels like the first draft of an eventual political enemies list,” a Department of Energy employee, who asked not to be identified because he feared a reprisal by the Trump transition team, had told Reuters.

[Note from the future: NYMHM grew out of these public posts from Joanne Merriam’s Facebook account. We retain them here in archives to provide a record going back to the beginning of Trump’s presidency.]