CURIOUS GAMBLE

Posted in Quick Hits on December 15th, 2016 by Ed

If you feel like you've been in withdrawal from the pre-election "We talked to Trump voters and you won't believe the stupid things they say" pieces, Vox has you covered.

Despite the tone of the previous sentence, this Sarah Kliff piece is actually pretty good. It interviews rural Kentuckians who stand to lose their health coverage (which they gripe about in terms of price, granted) if Trump goes through on his promise to repeal the ACA. Two things stand out.

1. Contrary to the widely held view that Trump voters are low on information, these people (all of whom voted for him) appear to be well aware of his promise to repeal the ACA and "replace" it with…well, don't worry about that part. Whatever it is will be great. So a lack of information is not the problem here. They have chosen the curious strategy of assuming that even though he said he intends to repeal it on his first day in office, he will not actually do so. "Too many people depend on it" and "You can't just take insurance away from all these people" are the common themes here.

That is a really odd roll of the dice compared to the other candidate who promised to continue or expand the law. Personally, I wouldn't put a lot of faith in a man who literally craps in a solid gold toilet to care suddenly about some Appalachian yokels' subsidized health insurance. And anyone who thinks that the current crop of congressional Republicans "wouldn't do that" is somewhere between delusional and willfully obtuse. The people in charge of the GOP on the Hill right now are the son the rest of the family knows will unplug Mom's respirator when the time comes. As for the political fallout of a Republican president and unified Congress taking away health insurance from tens of millions of people, after what we have seen in 2016 I'm sure they will construct and successfully sell some narrative explaining how it is all somehow the fault of Democrats. The art and science of creating one's own reality is advanced enough to pull it off.

2. I know many people in the situation mentioned throughout the piece – working poor who pay a lot for very bad insurance because they are Not Poor Enough. Medicaid is better and cheaper than the bottom end of the private market. It's not even a close call. Rather than jumping on the resentment bandwagon and finding a way to take Medicaid away from people in poverty, we could, you know, find a way to improve what is available for people just over the poverty cutoff. The nihilism of "If I don't have anything nice, nobody else can either" is a race to a bottom that we are getting dangerously close to reaching.