Tag Archives: Romney

Romney/Ryan to the Elderly, “Drop Dead”

“Although few of us want to admit it, once we (or our parents) become old and chronically ill, we (or they) will likely end up in a nursing home with care paid for by Medicaid.

— Tom Curry, NBC News national affairs writer

The above quote comes from Tom Curry, NBC News national affairs writer in a blog-post published 8/17/2012 on NBC Politics on Ryan’s plan for releasing Medicaid from federal protections and regulations and turning it over to the states, allowing them to set their own agendas for who qualifies because that’s worked so well for them with voter suppression.

Curry misses the mark on what most people fear or even what’s “likely” to happen to most people.  Dying in a nursing home on Medicaid is not the fate of most people. Many people in the middle-class have worked hard to keep that from being their fate.  My mother worked hard, not only raising her children, but also as a teacher (in the union) and had a decent pension as well as a combination of health insurance from her job and Medicare (managed care).   Her savings and the sale of her home helped pay the rent after my father died and she moved into an apartment in a senior living facility.  That facility wasn’t technically “assisted living” but offered her the services she needed to remain independent.  Facilities like that are private and for the most part fees are not covered by insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Her managed care helped when she had a fall or other health crisis and needed hospitalization, physical rehabilitation and/or temporary nursing home care.  In a sense she was racing the clock, trying to remain as healthy as she could for as long as she could so that whatever happened would be covered by the managed care she had.  All the rules around what is covered and what isn’t in terms of nursing home care, home attendant services, etc are very complex.  In the current system, the issue is when people’s long-term needs exceed what is covered by managed care.  That’s when savings are needed and after they are depleted or transferred, Medicaid kicks in.

In my mother’s case, her savings paid her “rent” and her “rent” increased when she needed more services that weren’t covered by managed care such as having the facility hand her her meds instead of having her self-manage that.  At the end, she had a stroke and died in the hospital a few days later.  Had she lived, and needed full time, long-term care, I don’t know how much managed care would have covered, and because she still held most of her money, it would have been a while before she would have been eligible for Medicaid. If we imagine a scenario where Medicaid is out or unreliable altogether, then we are imagining a time when people die when they run out of money, period.  In my mother’s case, in addition to life-long thrift, she benefitted enormously from her pure luck in having bought and held onto a home whose value had increased greatly by the time she sold it at the peak of a housing boom.

If she hadn’t had the savings to afford her “rent,” then I’m not sure how we would have coped. She was frail for the last few years of her life, and once my father — who had been the stronger one — passed away, she could not have lived on her own. She would have required family care that would have kept at least one of her adult children or other relatives from working full time for a number of years, as not only would shopping, cooking, cleaning and ferrying her to doctors have been required, but also keeping an eye out to make sure she was safe.  While she would not have needed to be in a nursing home, she would have needed to live somewhere with modifications such as stair-lifts and other safety modifications.

Most people’s fate is not the nuclear meltdown of depleting all their resources, needing Medicaid and dying in a nursing home. People may fear that because under the current system it’s certainly a possibility, but it’s not the most likely one.  Most people fear the erosion of protections for the middle class that would keep all that from happening.  This includes the destruction of unions that help negotiate for decent health care plans, the destruction of things like home mortgage deductions that help make home ownership (the biggest and best investment for most of us) possible, the erosion of Medicare, and the overhaul of the Affordable Care Act which will help us keep the insurance we have and keep the insurance companies from throwing us off plans.  In short, most people (at least in the middle class) fear or have reason to fear, the entire Republican agenda.

This is not to say the current system is perfect. Most people, even in the middle class, are already losing what they had a few years ago.  Benefits, like the ones my mother had, have already been slashed, and the nuclear scenario is still real when long-term care is needed and managed care benefits have been exceeded.  What’s needed isn’t simply keeping Medicaid available, what’s needed is more healthcare reform that will help us with preventative care so more of us will stay healthier longer. What’s needed is more reform, including cost-control, so if long-term care is needed people don’t need to become virtual wards of the state to pay for it.

Romney’s Rovian Strategy

Regarding, Romney’s speech to the NAACP on Tuesday, Nancy Pelosi told Bloomberg Television, “It was a calculated move on his part to get booed at the NAACP convention.”

She wasn’t the only one to see it that way.  Many pundits have by now made this assertion as well. It’s hardly a tinfoil hat theory, but rather stating the obvious.

Breaking it down for the more gullible, here’s the scam:

Romney knows he’s not going to get more than the smallest fraction of the black vote.  Yet, going to the NAACP, the nation’s oldest, and most respected civil rights organization, is what one is expected to do. So how do you make it pay?

You use it to excite the base.  That’s Rovian politics and the Southern strategy.

Romney stood up and said what he “believes” in, showing the right-wing of his party he’s not afraid to say something that won’t be popular (to people who wouldn’t vote for him anyway).  But beyond that, referencing the Affordable Healthcare Act in particular was important.

Since the Supreme Court ruled that mandates are constitutional, the popularity of health care reform has risen.  The more people learn about what’s in the Act, the more they like it.   Immediately after the ruling, Republicans tried to portray mandates as a “tax” on the middle-class.  But that’s a hard sell. Most voters already have  some form of health insurance and won’t be subject to mandates.  Those who are ineligible for Medicare, Medicaid or employer health insurance welcome the low-cost options which the Act will bring them.  Everyone is  excited by the idea that they won’t be dropped because of pre-existing conditions,  face “caps” on needed services, or have to drop their children when they turn eighteen.

The Affordable Healthcare Act is the biggest legislative success of Obama’s first term.  As the Act becomes more popular, so does Obama.  Making his biggest success into a liability is necessary.   One way to do it is through a strong visual showing a group of prominent black people booing Romney for deriding “Obamacare.”  The term itself implies not an act of Congress, reflecting the will of the American people, but rather something imposed on them by a usurper (and one with a funny “foreign” name).   Adding the audio-visual of a group of NAACP members  booing Romney for being against “Obamacare” reinforces the message that this government “giveaway” will take something away from hard working whites, something that black people want.  It portrays Romney as standing up for the beleaguered white taxpayer who is sick of supporting “entitlement programs.”  It references Reagan’s “welfare queens” as well as  his challenging  Gorbachev to tear down the wall.

That the Affordable Healthcare Act is so misunderstood may seem truly shocking to people who live in countries like England or Canada (or most of the developed world for that matter) where health care is understood to be a basic human right.  However, the idea that this legislation was a threat to “ordinary” Americans has been a major part of the strategy against it and has been exploited ruthlessly, with false claims that it would lead to taking away Medicare, the very successful single-payer system of health insurance for elderly Americans.

The NAACP gig offered Romney a chance to face down a group  (the blacks) and show white southerners and teabaggers that he was one of them, despite his elitist background, magical underwear and flip-flops on issues most near and dear to them.

In case he didn’t rile the NAACP crowd enough with his reference to Obamacare, he also managed to say other things designed to not exactly endear him.  He specifically referenced his defense of “traditional marriage.”  While much has been made of the opposition to gay rights by some black churches, the NAACP has come out strongly for marriage equality, and then there was his reference to his “kitchen cabinet” in Massachusetts which  included  African Americans.  The mostly older crowd he addressed remember too well the history of blacks in the kitchen, and of white politicians meeting with black leaders on the down-low.

More evidence that this was staged came when it was spin time.  At a fundraiser later that same day, Romney quipped, “. . . if they want more stuff from government tell them to go vote for the other guy — more free stuff.”  This is a line that he’s used before when talking about contraception as part of health care and even student loan reforms.  While the Republicans scream class warfare whenever the conversation turns to ending the millionaire tax cuts started by President Bush, they never miss an opportunity to imply that cuts to program that benefit the majority of Americans — healthcare, student loans, education, even essential services, are necessary, and anyone who implies differently is looking for a “giveaway” or “free stuff.”  Deregulation of corporations (which are “people too, my friend”) and tax breaks for the ultra-rich must be retained at all costs if we are to be truly “free.”

Will this strategy work to defeat Obama?  The scary thing is maybe it only has to come close.  Coupled with a massive effort to disenfranchise likely democratic voters in swing states, and unlimited campaign spending, Romney has a good shot at winning, no matter what the polls say. And that’s without even taking into account the possibility of actual fraud via faulty recording by electronic voting machines that leave no paper trail.  While a Romney “victory” might look suspicious if the polls show a 10-point Obama lead, they won’t if it’s close.  In a land of paperless ballots, close may be good enough.