Questions for Susan Collins

Susan Collins is the Republican Senator from Maine whose refusal to vote for the health care reform bill on offer (and any of the prior efforts) is centered on her insistence that the bill’s cuts to reductions to growth in Medicaid payments to the States—Maine in particular—are too great.  Collins needs to be asked, and required to give straight, substantive answers to, a number of questions.

What is Maine’s government doing to reduce the costs to its citizens of health care and of health coverage?

What is Maine’s government doing to make health care available to its citizens in the absence of health coverage?

The Cruz Amendment

Senator Ted Cruz (R, TX) has a provision in the latest Senate health bill that’s on offer, one that would allow sellers of actual health insurance to sell non-Obamacare compliant policies on the condition that they also sold Obamacare compliant plans on the ObamaMart.  The idea, and it’s a sound one, is that those plans, better tailored their customers’ needs, would soon have commensurately lower premiums, deductibles, and copays and thereby be more affordable.

Health plan sellers don’t like it, though.

While this setup could offer healthy people less expensive policies, insurers and actuaries say it would likely prove dysfunctional over time, pushing up rates and reducing offerings for people buying the compliant plans.

The PRC and Northern Korea

The People’s Republic of China trade relations with northern Korea appear to be robust and growing, despite efforts by President Donald Trump to get PRC President Xi Jinping to do more to curb his dog.  Imports from northern Korea have actually fallen 13.2% in the first six months of this year compared to the first six months of last year, but exports have risen 29.1%, for a net increase in trade over 10%.

Huang Songping, representing the PRC’s customs agency, said

As neighbors, China and North Korea maintain normal business and trade exchanges[.]

There’s a Hint

This is the subhead on a Wall Street Journal article over the weekend:

New registrations of company’s vehicles dropped to zero from 2,939

This happened to Tesla’s electric car sales in Hong Kong, but it’s a lesson that’s universal.

Not a single newly purchased Tesla model was registered in Hong Kong in April, according to official data from the city’s Transportation Department analyzed by The Wall Street Journal.

The March sales figure was that 2,939, albeit the number is artificially high: it occurred after the subsidy’s end had been announced, but before the end was to take effect.  The drop to zero, though, is not at all artificial.

Payback

The European Union is pushing for it over Great Britain’s appalling effrontery in choosing to go out from the EU.

The European Union’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Thursday gave a stark warning to officials in London that the UK won’t have “frictionless trade” with the bloc after it leaves.

… Mr Barnier said that he isn’t sure that the EU position is “fully understood across the Channel.”

Barnier added

In practice, “no deal” would worsen the “lose-lose” situation which is bound to result from Brexit. And the UK would have more to lose than its partners[.]

An Area for Sales Increases

We must be on the right track.  Now it’s time to push the pace.  The People’s Republic of China doesn’t want us to sell to the Republic of China the wherewithal to defend itself against aggression, not even the pittance that is the $1.4 billion arms deal that the Trump administration is contemplating.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang on Friday said Washington should immediately stop the sale to avoid harming relations with Beijing.

He said the deal would severely damage China’s sovereignty and security interests and runs contrary to Washington’s commitment to a “one-China” policy.

The Health Care Choice

The Wall Street Journal has the right of it, and it’s a stark one for the Republican Party and for us Americans.  The House and the Senate bills for getting rid of Obamacare and replacing it with something better are far from perfect, but they are significant improvements over the Obamacare assault on Americans’ access to health care, and on individual liberty and responsibility.  Further, the House plan has always been billed as the first part of a three-part effort at complete repeal and replacement; it’s never been claimed to be a final answer.  And the Senate bill on offer is not one, either.  Senate Republicans are well aware of this.

Medicaid-Receiving Companies Object to the Senate Bill

The Senate is proposing an overhaul of Obamacare and an improvement to the health coverage providing industry, and one of those improvements is a rollback of the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid and an eventual capping of Federal funds transfers to the States’ Medicaid programs.  There are objections to this.

The primary objections are from insurers and hospitals, et al., who get a significant fraction of their income from the guarantees of Medicaid payments; they don’t want to have to compete in the open market.  They prefer the supposed safety of that guaranteed income, paltry though it is, especially compared to the income available from a free market, and they don’t care what that “safety” costs those who must pay for it.

Obstructionism

…for the sake of obstructionism.  And now the Progressive-Democrats in the Senate are getting blatant about it.  They don’t want to help reform the health care coverage disaster of the last eight years, so to block Republican and Conservative efforts at reform, these Progressive-Democrats have decided to block everything in the Senate.  Here’s Senator Chris Murphy (D, CT) o the overall attitude:

What more could we do—hold Republican Senators by the arms to stop them from getting to the chamber?  I think we’ll use every tool at our disposal.

Saudi Oil Embargo Against the US?

Saudi Arabia is cutting its oil exports to the US for the express purpose of directing our use of our own oil to Saudi purposes—to make us use up our existing “excess” supplies.

Saudi Arabia is slashing its US oil exports to a near three-decade low for this time of the year, intensifying its efforts to reduce a global supply glut that has been pummeling crude prices.

Not just the global gut—our supply in particular.  Saudi Arabian Oil Co is cutting its exports to the US to the lowest level since the late ’80s.  Saudi Aramco is cutting its exports to us to the lowest level since 2009, the end-game of the Panic of 2008.