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AHCA and the Moral Conundrum of Lies

Here’s something that sounds reasonable but isn’t. The requirement for insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions has been dropped by the House of Representatives:

In place of that mandate, the bill encourages people to maintain coverage by prohibiting insurance companies from cutting them off or charging more for pre-existing conditions as long as their insurance doesn’t lapse. If coverage is interrupted for more than 63 days, however, insurers can charge people a 30 percent penalty over their premium for one year.

That sounds fair, but it isn’t. In practice, it’s a bait and switch. Anecdotes aren’t data but we don’t have a CBO report so they will have to do (post yours in the comments below or on Twitter at #AHCAantidote). 

Here’s mine. I was injured while teaching special ed over 10 years ago. Much to my disappointment, I ultimately had to switch careers due to my doctor’s assessment that the combination of a nerve injury in my neck and the normal stress of teaching would be untenable. I left my job before my workers compensation case closed, and before I was allowed to retrain.

While on disability, I couldn’t make COBRA payments and let my coverage lapse. I applied for an individual plan from the same insurer and was rejected. Four reasons were given, and though I’ve probably (hopefully!) shredded that document, I do remember that my work injury was not included. One factor was my allergies and another was a cervical condition that affects millions of women. I remember thinking at the time, “Basically, the issue is I’m female and I sneeze.”

That sounds ridiculous, and it is. The argument for the AHCA proposal is that it lets the market work with less government interference and allows individuals more freedom. But freedom is just another word for “plenty dough to burn.” If you’re not rich, that doesn’t help much. So why does this provision even exist?

For the same reason the AHCA exists. To hide the fact that Republicans have no reasonable alternative to the ACA. Repealing and replacing the ACA with a better, more functional plan that serves the good of the country and meets key  party principles is complicated. Republicans want to solve it in the space of one baseball season so they can campaign on that victory. Unfortunately, they have neither the data prowess nor the decades of experience that guides the MLB. 

Perhaps Trump and his team of congressional leaders should consult with the Rickett family about the complicated business of building a team that -could- win the World Series. The Cubs didn’t start that process in January 2016, they had more than a few empty files on the table when they announced their goals and deployed their strategies, and they didn’t dare pop the champagne publicly before the last out of the last game of the series. Even then, their best laid plans nearly went awry due to a persistent opponent and factors like weather.

Millions of people voted like they did because they believed the frequent refrain of Republicans who claimed the Affordable Care Act could be repealed and replaced with some other plan that would be more affordable and more caring. Instead, the replacement plan resembles a mountain lodge advertised as completely redesigned when in fact, it’s been stripped to the bones and all that’s left is a portable toilet and free wifi, at least until the wind knocks the power out.

Now, the best that tens of millions of people like me who have pre-existing conditions country can hope is that either the CBO report is fatal, as happened with the first draft of the AHCA, or the bill dies in the Senate. What kind of hope is a hope that depends upon the death of something 217 elected representatives cast their precious votes? 

That hope is built on an avalanche of lies that started with the very first repeal vote in the House. That vote, and every repeal vote that followed, was easy because it had no consequences. Like most little white lies, it led to bigger lies, culminating in Trump’s impossible promise that his replacement for the ACA would be bigger, better, and cheaper. Also, it would cover everybody.

The AHCA does not meet that standard. It does give states more control, but they already have so much room to innovate that Maine’s invisible high risk pool is touted by at least one Republican leader as a great success. Perhaps that means the ACHA is not a full “repeal and replace” but yet another snow job.

The ACA is far from perfect document that meets the highest ideals of our country. Lies were told to get it passed, and unfortunate moral comprises were made during implementation. But it did do much of what it hoped to accomplish, and efforts were made to improve it.

The only thing the ACHA truly accomplishes is another avalanche of lies. And not everyone survives an avalanche.


3 Leadership Lessons From Pope Francis | Forbes Mobile

Just came across this article, but it resonates because Pope Francis continues to practice these principles. There’s continuity between his visit to the U.S., his TED talk last week and his brief pilgrimage to Egypt.

HOMILY: What Do You See?

Source: HOMILY: What Do You See?

Celebrating Earth Day 2016

A good read on Earth Day!

Dating God

earthEvery April 22 since 1970 we have celebrated Earth Day, a commemoration and day dedicated to activism on behalf of the environment. Founded by US Senator Gaylord Nelson, it arose in the wake of the peace and civil rights movements of the late 1960s and Nelson’s own dismay at the pollution caused by an oil spill along the coast of Santa Barbara, CA.

Since its founding, Earth Day has grown to be celebrated across the United States and abroad (although there are also other days internationally that likewise draw out attention to environmental issues and care for creation). Additionally, a nonprofit organization named Earth Day Network was formed to assist in the promotion and organization of this annual event. It has proposed specific, direct action each year, suggesting that people plant trees in honor of Earth Day 2016.

As people of faith, especially in this first Earth Day after…

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Our Lady of Lourdes: A Healing Pilgrimage

A beautiful reflection…

Daily Theology

On February 11, 1858, in the small town of Lourdes in southern France, a sickly and impoverished fourteen-year-old girl named Bernadette Soubirous experienced the first of eighteen Marian apparitions at a grotto which would eventually become one of the world’s most popular sites of pilgrimage—particularly for those seeking healing through the intervention of the Blessed Virgin.  A century later, in the encyclical Le pelégrinage de Lourdes, Pope Pius XII wrote of how

Crowds . . . still surge into the grotto of the apparitions, to the miraculous spring, and into the shrine erected at Mary’s request. There is the moving procession of the lowly, the sick, and the afflicted. There is the impressive pilgrimage of thousands of the faithful from a particular diocese or country. There is the quiet visit of a troubled soul seeking truth. “No one,” We once said, “has ever seen such a procession of…

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The Significance of Christmas for a Troubled America

Live Jesus. Know Hope. Share Love.


“I can’t wait for 2016 to end.” I have heard numerous people utter these words lately, and I know what they mean. 2016 brought the fifth anniversary of an atrocious war in Syria, Brexit, the election of a self-professed murderer to the presidency of the Philippines, not to mention another slew of shootings on US soil and countless terrorist attacks here and around the world. Of course, few of my acquaintances had any of the above in mind when they were wishing aloud for the end of 2016. They were thinking about this year’s vitriolic presidential election and its fallout.

Tensions ran high in this election not only because people felt the options of candidates have never been more unpalatable but also because of the widespread sentiment that the stakes have never been higher. Many people felt and continue to feel that their livelihood is threatened by encroaching foreigners, the…

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HOMILY: The Other Thief

Seek the kingdom…

Leaven in the World

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe | November 20, 2016

Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons

PROTIP: You can take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.

I’m not normal.

It’s a fact I’ve known for a while, but one that was really hammered home over these last few weeks of this election season.

For it seemed that while the nation were only capable of speaking of people in broad generalities, I couldn’t do that. For every time I would hear a certain group mentioned, I couldn’t help but think of concrete individuals that I have had the privilege of knowing over the years.

When I heard people lament about the white, working class…

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