Politics

CB-OH NO: The Latest on the AHCA

The Congressional Budget Office releases its estimates on the new AHCA bill.


On May 24, 2017, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released new scoring for the latest iteration of the American Health Care Act. In their findings, the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimated that over the next decade, the federal deficits would be reduced by $119 billion and that by 2026 23 million more people would be uninsured compared to the current law. Most of that 23 million would occur within the first year, with the CBO estimating that in 2018, 14 million people would be uninsured under the new bill (H.R. 1628).

The bill was passed in the House on May 4, 217 to 213 with 20 Republicans voting against and no Democrats voting for. The first attempt to pass the AHCA ended with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) pulling the bill hours before it was about to be voted on because it lacked the numbers to pass.

The new version passed without an official CBO score, having had mostly cosmetic tweaks to garner more support. According to The Atlantic, the AHCA stops states from “enrolling new people under Medicaid expansion” and it “incentivized states to drop the expansion altogether.” The new bill would also introduce per-capita caps on federal spending, reducing the number of people covered and their benefits. The AHCA also removes the employer mandate, which forces employers to provide affordable health insurance to 95% of their full-time employees and children up to the age of 26.

The bill also removes the individual mandate, which penalizes people who don’t sign up for health insurance. What this does, essentially, is take the burden off of healthy people who might not necessarily need insurance. But without those people paying into the system, the onus is on the sicker, older people to pick up the deficit.

The new bill also introduces a set of waivers: one that would allow states to “modify the requirements governing essential health benefits” (Remember that from last time?) and one that would allow insurers to “set premiums on the basis of an individual’s health status.” Roughly 1/6 of the population resides in areas where states would utilize those waivers and the result would be increasing difficulty for less healthy people to purchase insurance on account of rising premiums.

The waivers were the result of an amendment from Representative Tom MacArthur. Business Insider reported that it was the MacArthur amendment that gathered the support of 20 members of the Freedom Caucus, the conservation caucus that largely withheld support for the first AHCA on account of it being too lenient.

A CNBC article quoted Dr. Andrew Gurman, president of the American Medical Association, as saying, “Today’s estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office show that last-minute changes to the AHCA made by the House offered no real improvements.”

The bill will now go to the Senate, where it requires at least 50 votes for it, thus leading to Vice President Mike Pence acting as a tiebreaker. Even with majorities in both chambers of Congress, and a 52-percent majority in the Senate, there is still the likelihood that the AHCA will not pass. Or that if it does, it will have to be severely rewritten to get any support.

Bottom line, even after months of rewriting, the AHCA bill has barely improved and, if anything, has gotten crueler by allowing states waivers on essential health benefits. Older, sicker Americans will see increased premiums and restricted care, and younger, healthier Americans won’t see any incentive to buy insurance. The GOP was more concerned with cosmetic Band-Aids to get conservative support than they were with crafting a bill that would benefit their constituents.

There is one bright side to the AHCA passing: this is probably the first time in months that Paul Ryan hasn’t had violent diarrhea from Congressional stress. Unfortunately, Congress-related diarrhea is no longer covered under the new plan.

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Humor, Life

HOT IN A PATRICK BATEMAN KIND OF WAY

Wednesday, March 2nd

After I spent two hours writing vaguely pornographic essays about film theory—spoiler alert, everything is about manipulation and penis envy—I unfurled my pen-holding claw. The entire side of my hand was stained deep, sheeny cobalt from my pen. I had just used the word “edging” in an essay—yes, in that context—and couldn’t shake the feeling that I had either passed with flying colors as a pervert or failed miserably as a prude. Either way, I was proud of myself for refraining from using “blue balls” while discussing the culture industry. Small victories.

It was the kind of final where you are so unprepared that you’re almost excited to start it, where the only apt response you have to its eventual arrival is, “Alright, let’s see what you got! Hit me, bitch!” It was one of those.

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Source: Gifrific.com

I don’t know what it is, but I always feel the need to call my mom immediately after getting out of a big final or a test. I don’t think it’s because I think she cares; I think it’s just I have this deep desire to be like “Hi look at what I’m doing with the small fortune you’re spending on me! I’m taking tests!” And she’s like, “Good! You’re not squandering everything!”

After I finished having a conversation with my mother—which was five minutes of talking and five minutes of going, “Huh? What? No, I didn’t say anything.”—I met up with Shelby at Starbucks before my next class.

I’ve been slowly building up a relationship with the barista. She’s not always there, but she’s almost always there when I have my five-hour block of class. Sometimes I’ll go before the block. Sometimes I’ll go in the middle. We crack jokes, and I subtly push the limits and going right to the edge without actually asking, “So do I have to pay?” I know that I do, but I always have to test that boundary.

We’re so close that she already began to write up my order before I even got to the register. Granted, it was on a cup for iced coffee, when I only order hot coffee, but still the thought was there. Frankly, she’s one latte away from being my emergency contact.

Our relationship is exactly the amount of intimacy that I want. We don’t know each other’s names—we exchanged them once, but they didn’t stick—and she’s learning my coffee order and I break up the monotony of her day. After I got my latte and put an unhealthy amount of sugar into and settled back down into a conversation with Shelby, who was drinking Dunkin Donuts in a Holy Place, I realized that Barista had written “Friend” on my cup. Babe!

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Source: Tumblr

I didn’t write a post on Tuesday. I don’t feel bad. I was completely drained of ideas, and I had gone from gym to class to interview to editing and uploading that interview to library to event to home at 10. So I forwent—forwent doesn’t seem like it should be a word—writing a post. But now, two days later, I feel a little guilty. Not majorly guilty. It’s on par with what I imagine the guilt of a mother who accidentally leaves her kid at a WalMart but realizes before he does because he’s engrossed in looking at toys. A silent, niggling, not-really-there guilt. But still, a little guilt.

Now I’m on a train going home for spring break. Midterm week was so crazy-hectic and gross, that I’m so excited to be a vegetable floating for a week. I’m currently sitting alone in the “Quiet” car—my seatmate left at Providence—and I’m praying to whatever god I haven’t offended yet to let my solitude last all the way to New York. With my luck, it won’t happen. But I’m manspreading and keeping my fingers crossed. Every time someone passes by me, I involuntarily clench up.

I worked out three times this week instead of five—gasp—but every single time I was at the gym, I saw the same guy. Okay, so I, like, “know” him but he definitely wouldn’t know me. I’m the friend of his (ex?)-girlfriend’s costar and I saw them all in a play once. He’s hot in a skinny, straight, Patrick Bateman kind of way—which is to say that he’s hot but I could totally see him skinning someone and wearing it as a cape. Is that weird? Anyway, he’s strong, but wiry, but has a head of hair that’s very “hottest kid in Calculus in 1998.” Which—if you know me at all—isn’t not my aesthetic.

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Source: Rebloggy.com

We seem to be on the same cycle when it comes to working out, so whatever I’m doing, he’s doing, but because I’m lazy, he’s usually doing it with more intensity and a higher weight. So not only am I at the gym, but now I’m at the gym and being intimidated by hot scarecrows.

Anyway, in my Wednesday night class, I was sitting waiting for everything to begin—and by “sitting waiting for everything to begin” I mean “screenshotting Kris Jenner’s Instagram”—and suddenly Patrick Bateman walked into class.

“Is there a class in here?” he asked me, and I just stared at his sexy mouth. Time stretched into taffy, and then it snapped back together.

“Yeah,” I answer.

“And there’s not any extra computers?”

And I said, “No…” because I was like, ‘Scuse?

He gave a half-smirk that I later described to my friend Mitchell as “the half-smirk, half-smile, half-laugh that is born out of a confidence where you have never had to worry about discrimination” because he was a straight, white male. It’s the kind of confidence that only straight white males and cats seem to possess—pure, unadulterated confidence that the world was built exclusively for you. Patrick Bateman left the class, and I immediately told Mitchell about it.

And so on this train, I’m trying to recuperate from a week of pyschotties, pervy film theory, and the struggle of trying to word something that I’ve already said slightly differently to beef up my word count. I overpacked for spring break. I know that I’ll be wearing exactly the same outfit every day—lethargy and track pants—but somehow I’ve crammed an entire Fashion Week into one small suitcase. I’m ¼ into a book that I Amazon Primed this week, but forced myself to abstain from until the work was done. Usually that doesn’t work—usually I’m super-shitty at restraining myself. I have poor impulse control and a knack for rationalizing a lifestyle of “Netflix now and stress later.” But I managed to do it and now I’m reading it. It’s I’m Special (And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves) by Ryan O’Connell who is sort of my writing role model. But it’s actually kind of dark because he’s talking about “getting a job” and maybe it’s the millennial in me, but I’ve just always kind of run on the assumption that I’m hot shit and everyone will want me to write pieces about stalking hot boys in CVS and pay me handsomely.

So I decided to take a break and write a blog post. I was going to give myself some time off, but then I remembered that death is inevitable and I might as well write before arthritis sets in from chronic knuckle-cracking (my mother swears it’s going to happen to me). The train is either still in Rhode Island or Connecticut, but either way it’s way depressing. Once, going home for Thanksgiving, the train broke down in the backwoods of Connecticut and I swear to God I thought we were going to be Walking Dead-ed. Gilmore Girls taught me that Connecticut was charming and winsome, and being white taught me that Rhode Island was the chic, New England equivalent to the Hamptons. But three years of riding back and forth and all I’ve gathered is that they seem like prime locales for dropping a body sans questions or making citizen arrests.

Byee!

Also this gif was too real not to include.

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Humor, Life

BRASH AMERICAN

I have been in the UK for almost three weeks and I still have no idea whether Brits hate Americans or love Americans. I keep getting conflicting reports. I met this guy at the gym and he was British and said that everyone would love me, but people keep looking at me with thinly veiled disgust like I’m a toddler screaming in an Italian restaurant. I also don’t think my inability to read the denominations of coins works in my favor. The other day, I just held out my wallet to the cashier and she picked out the correct change.

My frequent refrain is: “I am a dumb American.”

It works roughly 60% of the time.

There are two major things I have noticed about Londoners, and both relate to voice. Firstly, they whisper everything. I shout everything. I am an exclamation point next to their ellipses. Before I learned to adjust my volume, I was easily the loudest person in any given room at any given time. In the entire country. When I went to Copenhagen (I’M INTERNATIONAL, BITCH!) over the weekend, the title of loudest creature in England probably went to a literal elephant or something like that.

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The other thing is accents. Obviously I am aware that there are different accents. But I wasn’t prepared to hear them full-time and for the first forty-eight hours, I swore that every British accent I heard sounded faked. Also, in comparison to the soft English roses and lilting accents, my voice is a nasally nightmare. It sits thickly in my mouth, flattening every vowel like a steamroller.

In the States, I am used to be slightly superior to everyone else. In England, I am essentially a Beverly Hillbilly.

I have a newfound appreciation for Americans. I love our bold, brusque and loud ways. I like that we’re too blunt and awkward and funny.

Also OMG SIDE BAR: I have had multiple British people warn me that British people have a much more sarcastic, cunning sense of humor, as if I have never come into contact with that and that everyone in America is still laughing at anvils falling on Wile E. Coyote’s head.

Granted, that’s still fucking funny, but we have progressed a little. Give us some comedic credit, Britain.

But I also like things in London. I like how the rain feels quainter here. Like, it’s still rain, but it’s British rain so it’s slightly more polite. And I love the mews. They’re these little cobblestone offshoots from roads with houses converted—I think—from old stables or garages. And I like how there are green spaces everywhere. It feels more fresh than New York, but it still has that buzz that I like.

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I feel distinctly American as I walk the streets, and I wonder what people see. I’m mostly of European descent—Irish (is Irish European? Or UK-ian? What?) and German and Austrian—so do I look like I fit in? Or does the American eek out of me? I walk like an American, sturdy and clomping and not at all graceful. And as soon as I open my mouth, I get clocked because I bray like a donkey.

But I’ve had two separate occasions of people asking me for directions—wait, three!—and that must signify some level of looking like I fit in. The first one was a woman asking me for directions to Heathrow Airport—Piccadilly Line westward—and someone else asked me where a certain tube station was. Also someone asked me for directions to a building and I gave them to him before realizing that I didn’t actually know where the building was. So two out of three isn’t bad.

Once I was on the tube alone—also no one talks on the tube, it’s so weird—and I wondered if people thought I was a ~hip~ Brit boy. They probably just wondered why I don’t brush my hair.

I’m learning to soften my voice, but I found that I can work the “charming American” angle very infrequently and sometimes it really works and other times you get that weird British stare that’s all “This idiot dropped tea into Boston Harbor” and there’s nothing worse than that stare. Also British people do not get my throwaway weird off-brand humor. So it’s a learning curve for both of us.

I’m also really good at looking to the right for oncoming cars and saying that cars here drive on the “left” side instead of the “wrong” side, because I realize that that’s a tiny bit xenophobic-sounding.

Side bar: Zenonphobia—fear of Zenon, Girl of the Twenty-First Century?

There’s really nothing more to say other than that I’m really enjoying scones and clotted cream. Well done, England. Truly.

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