Jonathan Chait for NY Magazine had a great article explaining why the Republicans crusade to kill Obamacare was always based on delusions that are no longer possible to conceal.  The delusions include that ObamaCare is unpopular; too expensive; and not effective.

Chait quotes, Richard Hanna, a Republican from New York who just retired from Congress: “At the end of the day, the Affordable Care Act will in some form survive, and the millions of people who are on it will have insurance,” he said. “It’s something this country needed and something people want. Politically, it’s untenable to just wipe it away. So who really won? In my argument, the president, Obama, won. At the end of the day we will have some sort of national health care that’s going to look very similar to what we have.”

Several Senate Republicans have opposed repealing Obamacare without a replacement.  The plan to quickly repeal, and then figure out a replacement, appears to have been halted, and the party has yet to decide what will take its place.

President Trump conceded that health care was “very complicated,” and floated a timetable for devising a replacement that could extend into next year:

Yes, in the process and maybe it’ll take till sometime into next year, but we’re certainly going to be in the process. Very complicated — Obamacare is a disaster. You have to remember Obamacare doesn’t work, so we are putting in a wonderful plan. It statutorily takes a while to get. We’re going to be putting it in fairly soon. I think that, yes, I would like to say by the end of the year, at least the rudiments, but we should have something within the year and the following year.

As the Republicans continue their long retreat, they are encountering every false premise that brought them to this point. The most important of these is a misconception about Obamacare’s popularity. Now it is advocates of Obamacare mobilizing in anger and chasing terrified Republican members of Congress down the street. Conservatives spent years lionizing demonstrations against Obamacare as the justifiable anger of a free people.

The law’s growing popularity can be seen across several dimensions. Repealing Obamacare first, without a replacement, is wildly unpopular, drawing 20 percent approval or less. Repealing the law and starting over with a new one — the Republican position since 2010 — draws support from one-third of the public, while keeping Obamacare and fixing it gets nearly twice as much support. On the straightforward question of whether Barack Obama’s health-care reform was a good idea or a bad one, for the first time ever, “good idea” now wins:

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And Americans by a significant margin believe it is the government’s responsibility to make sure everybody has coverage:

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The chart above is especially telling. Notice that a huge majority agreed that the government should cover everybody before and after Obama’s presidency, but that support collapsed during the time of an administration attempting to implement this goal.

The second delusion is the cost of health care.  While GOP rhetoric has lambasted the cost of plans offered by Obamacare, their alternatives would all impose even higher costs. Hospitals are demanding that Republicans either keep covering the Americans who have insurance through Obamacare, or else compensate the hospitals for the losses they would suffer from facing millions of customers who can longer pay for their care. AARP has staked out opposition to one of the GOP’s favorite proposals to charge even higher rates to older customers. Obamacare only permits insurers to charge older customers up to three times as much as the young. Republicans have railed against the burden this places on younger workers buying insurance — and it’s true that Obamacare makes the young pay more so the old can pay less.

The pattern of the three months since the election shows the cause of Obamacare repeal collapsing because ObamaCare is effective in providing coverage, increasing access, and lowering the cost of health care. Obama and his party were able to design a plan that squared the minimal humanitarian needs of the public with the demands of the medical industry.

Cleveland.com reported that Edward McShaffrey was sentenced to 18 months in prison for sexually abusing a nursing home resident and will be classified as a tier I sex offender. The designation will require him to register with the local sheriff every year for 15 years.

A jury found McShaffrey guilty in December 2016 of gross sexual imposition. The sentence is the maximum allowed for this particular crime.   McShaffrey was a licensed practical nurse at Brookdale Montrose Nursing Home. McShaffrey was seen with his mouth on the 69-year-old’s breast, according to a news release from the prosecutor’s office.

 

McKnight’s reported the tragic case of Johnny Lee Bryant who was admitted to Doctors Hospital in Augusta, GA, in early January 2015  from The Place, a nearby long-term care facility. He was treated at the hospital for sepsis and pneumonia until Jan. 15, 2015, when he was discharged.  Bryant was transported by Gold Cross EMS to a nursing home in Bainbridge, GA — a city 300 miles away. Once there, the nursing home refused to admit Bryant, the Augusta Chronicle reported. He died in February 2015.

His sister is suing the hospital, physician and ambulance service accusing the hospital, the ambulance company and Hetal Thakore, M.D., of negligence, wrongful death and causing emotional distress.

UNITED HEALTH SERVICES OF GEORGIA, INC. ET AL. V. NORTON ET AL. (S16G1143)

PruittHealth, Inc. is frivolously appealing a Georgia Court of Appeals decision allowing a man’s wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of his deceased wife to proceed in court against one of its nursing homes, even though his wife had allegedly signed an arbitration agreement when she entered the home.

FACTS: From April 2013 until her death in April 2014, Lola Norton lived at PruittHealth-Toccoa nursing home, which is owned and managed by United Health Services of Georgia, Inc. While in the facility, Lola allegedly suffered injuries and harm, including falls, fractures, weight loss, and ultimately death. Following her death, her husband, Bernard Norton through his son and power of attorney, Kim Norton, filed a lawsuit claiming several causes of action including wrongful death, and alleging that all of Lola’s injuries and death were the result of the nursing home’s inadequate care and inadequate staff.

The lawsuit was against PruittHealth, United Health Services and seven other defendants who are affiliates or employees of PruittHealth. In response, the defendants filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the case, or in the alternative, to stay the proceedings and compel arbitration. The trial court granted their motion and compelled the entire case and all its claims to arbitration. Norton and his family appealed, and the Court of Appeals partially reversed the trial court’s ruling.

While the Court of Appeals found that the estate claims were barred by the arbitration agreement, it reversed the trial court’s order compelling arbitration of the wrongful death claim. The appellate court found there was no evidence that Lola’s wrongful death beneficiaries had entered into an agreement of their own to arbitrate their separate, distinct claims. United Health Services, PruittHealth and the others now appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court, which has agreed to review the case to determine whether an arbitration agreement signed by a person during her lifetime, which binds her and her estate to arbitration in the event of a dispute, is enforceable against her beneficiaries in a wrongful death action.

Attorneys for the Nortons argue the Court of Appeals correctly determined that wrongful death beneficiaries who are not parties to an arbitration agreement are not required to arbitrate their claims. “The Federal Arbitration act does not mandate enforcement of the arbitration agreement in this matter,” they argue in briefs. “Here, Lola Norton’s wrongful death beneficiaries were not parties to the arbitration agreement” she had signed during her lifetime, and Lola “did not have the authority to send her wrongful death beneficiaries’ claims to arbitration.”

Georgia law also does not require enforcement of the arbitration agreement against the wrongful death beneficiaries in this matter, the lawyers contend. United Health Services and the others incorrectly argue the Court of Appeals erred by treating arbitrations differently than other contracts. Under Georgia Code § 13-3-1, a valid contract contains three elements: subject matter of the contract, consideration, and mutual assent by all parties to all contract terms. “Lola Norton’s wrongful death beneficiaries were not parties to the arbitration contract at issue and, like any other contract related to the forum or any other procedural defense, there is simply no contract regarding their claims,” the attorneys contend.

“Wrongful death claims are required to be brought by a different party than survival/estate claims, have separate damages, and a separate statute of limitations.” “Since wrongful death beneficiaries have their own separate and distinct claim, it is also logical that they should have a say in where and how their claim will be litigated,” the family’s attorneys argue. “Wrongful death beneficiaries cannot lose their right to choose their forum or whether to arbitrate their claims if they did not…sign a contract or agreement to arbitrate.” Finally, courts in other states have reached a similar conclusion as the Georgia Court of Appeals regarding wrongful death beneficiaries’ claims, the attorneys contend.

 

The Post and Courier reported that South Carolina does not have enough nursing home beds for all the veterans that need them.  Records obtained by The Post and Courier reveal as many as 1,700 former soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are waiting for a bed in one of the state’s three skilled nursing homes reserved for them. Other sources of information indicate far more veterans are waiting for a bed at a state nursing home. For instance, grant applications completed by Mental Health officials suggest that roughly 1,400 veterans were on “inactive” waiting lists as recently as 2015. And in a January 2016 report authored by a legislative subcommittee, it was determined that roughly 1,700 names were on so-called “general” waiting lists.

The figure is expected to swell in the years ahead as tens of thousands reach their upper ages, especially those from the Vietnam era.  There are an estimated 400,000 veterans living in South Carolina. Yet there are just 530 state-funded beds for all these veterans. A 2015 study found that the space shortage in the state could be as high 3,589 beds.

There are “chronic waiting lists” at all three of the department’s veterans’ nursing homes.  Most of the vets in South Carolina’s nursing homes, and on waiting lists, are considered Vietnam-era veterans, who represent about one-third of the state’s total.

Currently, there are state-operated veterans’ nursing homes in Columbia, Walterboro and Anderson. In the Charleston region, the nearest nursing home tailored to former soldiers is the Veterans’ Victory House in Walterboro.

The state has plans to build at least three more such homes.  However, adding three homes won’t be cheap and is contingent upon uncertain chances of funding from the Trump Administration. The cost of each new nursing home, which would be built in Florence, Gaffney and Columbia, is expected to be roughly $40 million per location. If the grants are funded by the VA, the federal government would cover 65 percent of the construction costs, or about $25 million per nursing home. The state would still have to come up with about $15 million per location and will have to fund the nursing homes’ ongoing operational expenses, which are expected to be about $7 million annually per location in state money. Federal funding from the VA is expected to cover the remaining $8 million in annual expenses.

 

 

CNN had an interesting article on how Republican governors want to keep ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid.  16 Republican governors are in states that have expanded Medicaid in their states, even though the Supreme Court ruled it wasn’t mandatory under Obamacare.  Republican governors met with the Senate Finance Committee the day before Donald Trump’s inauguration to stress the importance of keeping the Medicaid expansion and other programs like it across the country, funded.

The federal government began funding 100% of the cost of the expanded enrollment nationwide, but it will be stepping down to 90% by 2020. But, with the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress on course to repeal, and potentially replace, Obamacare, all of that funding for Medicaid expansion could go out the window.

 

The Washington Post reported that Republican lawmakers expressed concerns about their party’s push to repeal the Affordable Care Act at a meeting according to a recording of the session obtained by The Washington Post.

The recording reveals a GOP that appears to be filled with doubts about how to repeal Obamacare.  Senators and House members expressed a range of concerns about the task ahead: how to prepare a replacement plan that can be ready to launch at the time of repeal; how to avoid deep damage to the health insurance market; how to keep premiums affordable for middle-class families; even how to avoid the political consequences of defunding Planned Parenthood, the women’s health-care organization, as many Republicans hope to do with the repeal of the ACA.

Republicans have also discussed the idea of generating revenue for their plan by taking aim at deductions that allow most Americans to get health insurance through their employers without paying extra taxes on it. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who has drafted his own bill to reform the Affordable Care Act, said in response, “It sounds like we are going to be raising taxes on the middle class in order to pay for these new credits.”

Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) worried that the plans under GOP consideration could eviscerate coverage for the roughly 20 million Americans now covered through state and federal marketplaces and the law’s Medicaid expansion: “We’re telling those people that we’re not going to pull the rug out from under them, and if we do this too fast, we are in fact going to pull the rug out from under them.”

“We’d better be sure that we’re prepared to live with the market we’ve created” with repeal, said Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). “That’s going to be called Trumpcare. Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel, and we’ll be judged in the election less than two years away.”

Vox had another article about DHHS Secretary Tom Price who blatantly lied during his confirmation hearing.  His ethics are being challenged because he was buying health care stocks while writing laws that impacted the companies he was investing in. And now, according to the Wall Street Journal’s James Grimaldi, it looks like he may have doubled his trouble by lying to Congress during his two rounds of confirmation hearings.

What’s at issue specifically is his purchase of discounted shares in an Australian biotechnology company called Innate Immunotherapeutics. During confirmation hearings, he was directly asked about this sweetheart deal and testified that the shares “were available to every single individual that was an investor at the time.”

However, that is false.  Price was one of fewer than 20 U.S. investors who were invited last year to buy discounted shares of the company.  The value of Price’s shares has tripled, so he’s certainly benefited from his special offer.

WSOCTV reported that Darious Johnson showed Channel 9 samples of moldy drywall that came from inside Autumn Care of Marshville.  Johnson worked at Autumn Care as the nursing home’s director of maintenance, and was compelled to expose a problem with mold he found at Autumn Care because he cares about the residents and employees there.

However, when he brought the issue to his manager in November, he was told to paint over the mold.  Inspectors found several minor violations and mold in three rooms, according to a Dec. 27 state report.

Johnson who worked at the facility for 15 years quit after the inspection out of frustration.

“From, you know, the lack of management and the lack of them going anything about it,” Johnson said.

Mold can cause a number of health problems as simple as stuffiness, to as serious as lung infections, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

 

 

The Idaho Press-Tribune reported on a recent report criticizing Holly Lane Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center highlights the need for a sufficient number of nursing staff at long-term care facilities, officials say.  In July, Holly Lane was found to have numerous, serious infractions during a surprise state inspection. A follow-up visit in October confirmed many of the same problems were still happening.

The state investigators found Holly Lane did not have enough licensed nurses or certified nursing assistants to meet the needs of its residents.  Residents told stories of waiting for at least an hour for someone to answer call lights to help them get out of bed or to be helped off the toilet.

 Staff complained that they were pulled into duties they aren’t paid or qualified to do because they were short-staffed.

Debby Ransom, the bureau chief of facility standards for the Department of Health and Welfare, said the federal requirement is  have to have “sufficient staff” to meet the needs of residents.