The content on this blog is my personal opinion and does not reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the US Navy in any way.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Protest and Rebuttal

Depending on exactly which estimates you use, the various women's marches around the country last Saturday are the largest protest event in our nation's history. It comes as little surprise that those who disagree with the values espoused at those events have already started to spread counterarguments.

The most common seems to be that women in America are already equal and have nothing to be afraid of. To a certain extent this seems quite convincing, given the status of women's rights in the US compared to what one tends to find in the Middle East, Africa, or parts of Southeast Asia.

What this gets wrong, though, is that the existence of greater problems elsewhere doesn't render all other problems irrelevant until those are dealt with. That argument, when challenged that way, tends to shift, and add an extra clause: that because our problems are so much smaller, they do not merit this much effort spent on them.

Needless to say I don't agree. Some of those reasons have probably been heard before, such as:

The stats regarding sexual assault in the US - such as the estimates regarding unreported incidents - are still not encouraging, despite all of the progress we've theoretically made.

Neither are the numbers regarding the pay gap or women in leadership positions.

Others are a little more unusual:

Women who fight back against domestic abuse are routinely treated harshly by our justice system.

Female genital mutilation wasn't actually banned here until 1996 - hell, health insurance covered it as a medical procedure until the 1970s! Oh, and it hasn't gone away yet, either, even here.

And some are just frightening:

There are religious right leaders in the US talking about first-degree murder sentences for women who use an IUD or Plan B contraception.

There are also women in the US that have been arrested following a miscarriage.

Other nations might have worse problems, yes, and they need assistance. If anyone tries to tell me that we do not have serious problems of our own, though, then I'm going to tell them that they aren't paying attention.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Repealing Obamacare

As expected, the new Republican-controlled Congress has voted to repeal Obamacare - or, at least, as much as they can reach through the budget provisions. They've promised to introduce more bills quickly to replace some of what they can repeal and alter other provisions they can't affect with the reconciliation bill, although exactly what that would look like is still a little unclear.

Needless to say I'm not particularly happy about this.

The best case scenario I can see (at least for one side) involves the Republicans somehow managing to get their block grants, interstate insurance markets, high-risk pools, and insurance-related tax deductions through a Democratic filibuster quickly. (Given the number of people who have painted unhappy visions of a partial repeal, I don't think I need to cover those negatives, and I don't really want to spend too much time on that anyway.)

Even if I grant the assumption that they'll get it through quickly, and if my assumptions about what policies they'll pursue are correct, it still doesn't look good to me. Once insurers actually manage to establish the networks they need in other states (which will not be simple, easy, or quick), then they're just going to find the state with the least comprehensive requirements and operate there. That's fine if you don't need very much coverage... but with the reduction in the market for more comprehensive plans, those prices are going to go up, and many people who need more coverage are going to find themselves in trouble. And I doubt that any high-risk pools will have low enough prices to help, or that any of the incentives offered to offset costs will be anything other than a cut relative to what the ACA offers.

And yes, government spending will also go down... along with the number of people actually receiving assistance from Medicare and Medicaid, or the number of people receiving assistance to obtain health insurance.

So what I end up looking at is less coverage for our money, fewer people being covered, and probably no change in my taxes, since we're in debt either way. I see more people risking their health on more limited insurance, and I think many of them are going to find themselves worse off as a result. I see many people not being covered at all, and I know they'll definitely be worse off.

Somehow it seems just a little bit callous to be happy about those prospects, when my budget can easily survive the increases in taxes or insurance costs that keeping Obamacare would entail.