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Forum, June 29: Government on a Starvation Diet


Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Government on a Starvation Diet

It strikes me that we are now entering a period in which nothing will be quite what it seems. In Washington, the Senate Health Care Bill is not about health care. It’s about federal tax cuts for the top 1 percent, cuts that we know will be huge ($1 trillion) when the GOP gets around to doing “tax reform.”

Here in New Hampshire, the GOP has a state budget that doesn’t meet the needs of New Hampshire. That budget offers up business tax cuts the business community didn’t need as much as they need trained employees. The cuts contained in this budget, when added to the cuts made in the last biennial budget, will subtract $208 million from state revenues within two years. The GOP isn’t funding state government. They’re starving it.

Peter Hoe Burling

Cornish

I Accuse the Senate of This

The spectacle of the Senate health care legislation hearkens to the 1898 open letter to the president of France from the journalist Emile Zola regarding politically scandalous behavior of that day. The letter was titled J’accuse! (I accuse!). It is with humility and respect for Zola that I attempt this version of his letter for similarly scandalous behavior.

I accuse the Senate of three counts of legislative malpractice. First, they drafted a bill restructuring one-sixth of the American economy behind closed doors without any input from relevant experts. Second, it was released without a prior Congressional Budget Office analysis. Third, it pushed for a vote on the initial draft with, ideally, a few days or less for the public, stakeholders and the Senate membership to read, understand and discuss it.

I accuse the Senate of being unfeeling by taking insurance away from approximately 22 million Americans.

I accuse the Republican leadership of hurting its own voter base by proposing a bill that will drastically reduce Medicaid funding. The rural, poor and elders who comprise a significant part of the voter base who elected this administration disproportionately access care using Medicaid.

I accuse the Senate of proposing a carnival-style shell game by shifting Medicaid funding from the federal government to the states. It literally proposes passing the buck to entities that cannot afford such expenses.

I accuse the Senate leadership of callous disregard for enabling insurance limits or denials for pre-existing conditions.

I accuse the Senate leadership of threatening hospitals with increased responsibilities for uncompensated care, making reduced access or even hospital closures more likely.

I accuse the Senate leadership of misdirection. This bill does not address improved health care access or delivery. Instead, it gives tax breaks for the rich that deny Medicaid the funds it needs to meet the health care needs of the poor.

Zola wrote, “As for the people I am accusing, I do not know them. I have never seen them, and I bear them neither ill will nor hatred. To me, they are mere entities, agents of harm to society.” A government that would consciously harm its own people is nothing more than that “agent of harm.”

Paul Etkind

Grantham

Missing From the Story

The recent CBO scoring of the proposed Senate health care bill forecasts “losses” of health insurance coverage for 22 million people. This was the leading headline in the Valley News June 27 edition. The story went on to report many concerns over changes arising from the bill.

Noticeably missing was any reporting as to how many of those 22 million are losing coverage because of rising deductibles and lesser subsidies that make insurance unaffordable, versus people freed from must-purchase penalties, deciding not to buy insurance they do not want, with benefits they do not need. Are people wise enough to know? Maybe not, but who arrogantly deems the right to make a decision for them?

The Valley News is joined by almost all the media in not even asking these questions. Yet without answers, it is impossible to assess the bill objectively. This letter was drafted after hearing the CBO scoring on the bill, and before seeing the report in the June 27 paper. The present-day press is so predictable.

Tim Dreisbach

Royalton

President Trump’s Moral Vacuum

I am not a religious person; both of my parents were scientists and I was educated to consider issues critically and analytically and to question dogmatic belief systems. Thus I was surprised to find myself using religious terminology recently when wondering about the incredibly awful situation of Donald Trump as president of the United States.

I believe that Trump is evil. He appears to have no moral compass and to care about nothing but himself and (nominally, as long as they are loyal) his family. He is completely unprincipled and will say or do whatever he thinks garners praise from his toadies, who grovel before him because of his power.

He lies more often than tells the truth, has cheated workers, customers, partners and clients more often than not. He breaks the law if he can get away with it and feels nothing for the poor and suffering, eagerly betraying those who voted for him and will lose medical insurance and addiction treatment — the funds for Medicaid given instead in tax breaks to the super-wealthy. Trump appears to get pleasure through the basest emotions of gluttony, avarice and revenge. Apparently he has no real friends.

Republicans in Congress and the electorate apparently share his greed and put having more money above every other value of life, including living by high moral standards, caring for one’s community and natural environment and supporting a healthy, flourishing national population and towns and cities.

Trump’s moral vacuum, in combination with his demonstrated woeful ignorance of history, science, the arts or any of humankind’s record of accomplishments, his personal traits of lack of impulse control, defensiveness, bad temper and low diplomatic, interpersonal and communication skills portends real danger to our country and civilization.

Alice Morrison

Newbury, Vt.

Not Really a Co-op

You recently ran an Associated Press story (“Minuteman Health Is Closing,” June 24) that featured a serious factual error. The story described Minuteman Health, which is shutting down and abandoning its 37,000 customers in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, as a cooperative. In fact, it is no such thing.

Regrettably, the Affordable Care Act authorized the creation of “Consumer Oriented and Operated Plans,” which has bred the misleading abbreviation “CO-OPs.” These entities have not thrived, their number is dwindling and now Minuteman, apparently, is closing and perhaps converting to a for-profit insurance model.

A cooperative is a business owned by its users and democratically controlled by them on a one-person, one-vote basis. Unlike a conventional corporation, a co-op lacks profit-seeking investors and unlike most nonprofit organizations, a co-op is neither tax-exempt nor governed by a self-perpetuating board. Minuteman does not meet this definition and, notably, does not itself claim to be a cooperative.

According to the International Cooperative Alliance, cooperatives are “based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.” We could use some health insurance providers that adopt these values. Meantime, please be more careful about the use of the term “cooperative.”

Full disclosure: I serve on the board of the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society.

Don Kreis

Concord and Hartland

Return of the Norwich Parade

The Norwich Parade is being resurrected! After several years without our town parade, we are bringing it back, this time with the theme “Into the Future.”

On the Norwich Fair weekend, Saturday, July 22 at 10 a.m., we will gather at the town green, march up to the library and then return to the green for a day at the fair. The spirit and happiness that a parade brings is like a nighttime display of fireworks — just wait to see what is coming next!

In addition to two marching bands, we are inviting floats, walkers, bikers, classic or antique cars, music, antique tractors, parade-appropriate animals and wagons. All are welcome to participate.

If you or your organization would like to be in the parade, please register by contacting Rose Swift Smith at 603-276-0900 or rosemswift@aol.com or Richard Neugass at @neugass2009@gmail.com.

We look forward to hearing from you for this joyful community event.

Rose Swift Smith and Richard Neugass

Norwich Parade co-chairs