MAY 6, 2017

AHCA Deserved to Die; But Watch Out for A New Version

After Republicans have voted to overturn Obamacare more than a dozen times since the GOP took control of the House in 2011 and Senate in 2014, it is now clear that all along they had no real viable alternative to Obamacare as evident by President Donald Trump American Health Care Act’s (AHCA) major flop.  The GOP is fast realizing how much easier it is to vote-down reforms to healthcare than to come up with meaningful consensus acceptable to both the giant for-profit interests (insurance, and pharmaceutical companies, hospitals) and the greater public interest. AHCA was simply flawed from conception and mishandled legislatively that ultimately led to its dead-on-arrival fate in Congress. But make no mistake, the features of AHCA (while dead temporarily) must continue to be debated, as well as areas where Obamacare is failing in order for our country to move forward with a better healthcare model.

The overwhelming unpopularity of AHCA tells us that the vast majority of Americans do not want to regress to pre-Obamacare days where millions less were uninsured and millions more were vulnerable to unfair for-profit practices. AHCA, if enacted, would have been particularly harsh on the elderly population and the poor. Under AHCA, insurance companies would have been able to charge older people up to five times more than those younger insured. Under AHCA, Medicaid expansion would end in 2020, blocking out completely new candidates who otherwise could have qualified for Medicaid. From the for-profit business side, they were not pleased with AHCA’s proposal to end the insurance purchase mandate that would have resulted in millions of healthy, younger insurance holders opting to drop their coverage. This undermines the principle of risk-sharing that has helped to keep the cost of healthcare from rising dramatically.

One silver lining to AHCA’s first-round demise is that party politics was not blind to the will of the people. Some members in the GOP deserve credit for breaking party-lines and not giving in to the temptation of killing Obamacare without a workable substitute. Healthcare is the most complex issue facing our country. The president himself called it an “unbelievably complex subject.” Trump confessed “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”  While it is politically unrealistic with the GOP in power, a single-payer healthcare system at the very least deserves to be in the mix of discussions concerning healthcare. In the meantime, Americans must continue to be vigilant against features of AHCA that might creep back into a new future version that Trump is bound to bring up again.


Happy Mother’s Day

As we grow older and encounter new experiences, it becomes crystal clear that only a few things in life are constant. In retrospect, our childhood and time in grade school, high school and college seems like a dream. Friends pass through our lives like a revolving door; and sometimes so does our love relationships that we thought would last forever. But one constant that most of us can agree on is the love of a mother for her children. That is as steady and perpetual of a relationship that has no parallel. Mom taught us to speak our first coherent word; and throughout our lives she became our greatest teacher. She held our hand, made us feel secure, and walked us to our first day of school; and throughout our lives she has done the same thing with just about every other “first” experience we had, offering us words of wisdom in the greater school of life. We talked with her about our first day of college when we began our first day of adulthood. She was the first to know about our engagement proposal; the first to cry at our wedding ceremony; the first to call when we had a crisis; or the first to call us back when we reached out to somebody after having a lousy day.

Mom was always placed first in many occasions because we knew she had the right words to always make a situation better. Who else but our mom would always take our side when at times no one else would. She made us feel safe and protected as she has been doing since the months we were physically one with her, in her womb -- that some say is truly a miracle, making her a kind of vessel of miracles, or even a miracle-maker. She dried our first tears as infants; she calmed us as adults helping to stop us from crying. She showed us how to be fearless by example, doing whatever it took in the way of sacrifice to make her children’s lives easier, the best she knew how. She taught us compassion by being compassionate. She is the feminine energy that gives balance in our emotional development, enabling us to be softer, emotionally healthier, whole individuals.

For some of us who lost our moms to death, when Mother’s Day comes around we can only relish the fond memories we shared and quickly realize that since her passing, life just hasn’t been the same. Yes, we heal, but memories and photographs are frozen in time while we carry on wishing that she was around to be that first person to talk with about for yet another “first” experience in our lives. For those of us whose moms are still present to celebrate Mother’s Day, be joyous for the gift of another year you have together. Embrace her, honor her, laugh with her, enjoy her stories on Mother’s Day, and every opportunity that you are blessed to share with her. Mother’s Day is a day to give gratitude for who she is, was, and will forever be in your life -- that rare constant, the “first” person whom you’ve developed a loving bond that has proven to be unbreakable. To all our moms, thank you for the sunshine you bring into our lives. Happy Mother’s Day!

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