HEADLINE: Amendment One Passes; A Majority of Tennessee Voters Found to be Illiterate

Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother. – Amendment One, Article I, Tennessee Constitution

Rant Begin.

If the headline didn’t catch your attention, then I am unsure as to why you are even reading this article. If you voted “yes” on Amendment One, then I am unsure as to if you can even read. If that doesn’t already piss you off, keep attempting to navigate this narrative. I’m sure it will just be the beginning.

I am Republican. There… I said it. Happy now? However, I am not a Republican in the sense that I believe abortion is wrong and gay rights should be shunned. That’s just ignorant. We live in the 21st century people – get over yourself. However, my issue with Amendment One has nothing to do with abortion rights. In fact, if you read the amendment then you would find that the amendment had nothing to do with abortion rights at all. “What? What do you mean, Nikki? It has everything to do with abortion – it says so directly in the body of the amendment.” I’m telling you – Nothing. To. Do. With. Abortion. Everything. To. Do. With. Government. Control. So, congrats if you find yourself a Republican (or Democrat) voting for this because you believed abortion was the main concern and that abortion is wrong in all circumstances. In the words of the Arrow – “You have failed this city (err… state).” Let’s get to the bottom of what 53% of you voted to be an Amendment to our Tennessee Constitution.

Well, That Was Awkward…

First and foremost, I am not here to give you a background on Amendment One. You should have already read (or attempted to read) the amendment and codified the amendment’s meaning. I’m here to tell you why 53% of voters were wrong. Now, just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean that I do not still like you. It just means you might piss me off in a conversation if you ever bring up the fact that you voted “yes” on this amendment. Here we go.

Help! I Can’t Get The Government Out of My Vagina!

Read my heading again – and say thanks to my mother (who is also a Republican) for helping me with it. Now, let’s move forward with the medical changes that will occur with Amendment One’s passing. A scenario might make this narrative a little more intimate.

You are pregnant. You go to your trusted doctor for a check-up, and your doctor tells you that if you continue your pregnancy there is a 100% chance that you or your child will die during childbirth. Without Amendment One, you, your family and your doctor would have complete control over what happens from here on out – whether that be a termination of the pregnancy or not. With Amendment One, however, these personal, private medical decisions are now subject to government control. You have no say as to what occurs. If the government passes a law that is contrary to the health or life of the woman then so be it.

That scenario doesn’t bother you? How about this one:

You pull into your apartment complex after working the late shift at a grocery store. You have to park a few buildings down, as there is not enough parking near your building. As you begin walking toward your building, and unbeknownst to you, a man approaches you from behind.  That person grabs your arm, throws you to the ground, and covers your mouth to avoid screaming. In the process of this violent attack, you are raped. You are scared and do not inform anyone of the rape (note: if anyone comments with “Well, she could have told someone” you are extremely ignorant). You become pregnant and go to your local physician. After informing your physician that you wish to terminate the pregnancy, you and your physician discuss termination procedures. With Amendment One, however, these personal, private medical decisions are now subject to government control. You have no say as to what occurs. If the government passes a law prohibiting a woman who has been raped from terminating a pregnancy then you must carry that pregnancy to term.

After re-reading the above section, I am crying. Reread the language of Amendment One. You (if you are apart of the 53%) just handed over ALL control to the government. Exceptions for health and welfare of the woman, incest, and rape are not covered in this amendment – they are fair game for the legislators to twist and turn. I do not see how the voters in Tennessee could allow this Amendment to pass where a woman’s rights are so freely handed over to the government for control. If you voted “yes” then you believe there should be no exceptions for abortion whatsoever – and for that I am appalled at your judgment. Medical concerns, however, are not the only issue with Amendment One. Let’s move on.

Oh, You Thought You Deserved Privacy? That Doesn’t Exist Anymore.

Notwithstanding medical records, privacy is at issue with Amendment One. The Tennessee Supreme Court previously ruled that certain abortion restrictions violated privacy rights under the Tennessee Constitution. These restrictions hindered the ability of a woman to have a safe and legal abortion. Most Amendment One supporters pushed the notion that Tennessee law does not regulate abortion procedures due to the Tennessee Supreme Court’s above ruling. However, that is not the case. Under Tennessee law, abortions are already highly regulated where it counts. Examples of such regulations include the following: (1) Mandatory reporting guidelines to the Tennessee Dept. of Health; (2) Parental consent for minors; (3) Requirements for physicians performing abortions to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals; (4) Patients have to sign a consent form prior to the procedure; (5) Abortion clinics must post conspicuous signs with specific language stating it is against the law to coerce someone into having an abortion; (6) No physician or hospital has to perform an abortion; (7) Medicare will not pay for abortions, and the state will not fund them (unless the pregnancy resulted from rape, incest, or the health and welfare of the mother is at stake).

Amendment One allows regulation of the following areas: (1) Mandatory waiting period to give the woman “time to think” about the procedure; (2) Requirement that doctors give women specifically worded information about abortions and fetal development – not crafted by the doctors themselves, but crafted by lawmakers; (3) A ban on abortions past a certain fetal stage of development; (4) Stricter standards of ambulatory surgical centers; (5) End to exceptions as mentioned previously. A few of these changes give me cause for concern – especially number 2. Allowing the legislators to craft their own legalese for use in medical facilities that is not recommended by doctors or medical staff seems to be a bit of an overreach.  Have you read Obamacare? Probably not. Well, go read that (and the proposed regulations), and then let me know if you want legislators to craft legislation without medical review.

In short, Amendment One strips the private, personal medical discussions you have between you and your doctor. It also allows the government (not your doctor) to control your decisions regarding those medical decisions. Say goodbye to physician-patient privilege and hello to the physician-patient-government triangle of despair.

Why You Should Have Voted “No” On Amendment One..Even If You Are Pro-Life

Amendment One hands our private decisions to lawmakers and allows these lawmakers to interpret and define laws on our behalf. This law does not have to stop at abortions – you can apply it to anything considered “private.” I’m not sure that passing laws such as the one related to Amendment One would really make abortions safer. It seems that the legislators just want to make it harder for women to gain access to abortions which is control in and of itself. Control over waiting times – which limit the access of abortions to those that need to take off of work or travel far distances. Control over documents provided for consent in waiting rooms – which limit doctor-patient confidentiality and the doctor’s ability to provide truthful information about the procedure to a patient. Control over women’s rights – it is a woman’s choice as to what happens with her body, not a legislator’s poorly crafted language.

This legislation was pretty well-crafted, in that it was extremely deceptive to both the Republican and Democratic parties. The law was something that allowed for government oversight (which Democrats love and Republicans loathe) for an issue that is a hot-button social topic of regulating abortion (which Republicans love and Democrats loathe). I’m not shocked that the vote turned out the way it did – I am more shocked that my fellow Republicans (and even some Democrats) could not read more deeply into this law. It is an overreach of government and allows the government to hold the power over regulating our private decisions. Not just our private decisions, but a woman’s private decisions. As a woman,this is what shocks me the most.

Who decides what is best for a woman’s health? The woman herself? The woman’s doctor? Not according to Amendment One. According to Amendment One, the Tennessee government is the best at deciding a woman’s reproductive care. Legislators need not consult physicians or medical personnel in coming to a decision on changes to the abortion law. So, next time you have a personal, private medical question don’t bother asking your doctor. All of that medical school business was for nothing.  I recommend that you call your friendly neighborhood legislator the next time you need a personal, private medical question answered. I’m sure that with the vast knowledge Amendment One supporters believe our legislators have on the issue of abortion, that Tennessee legislator will have an answer to your medical question no matter the concern. If you think I am crazy, then you should have voted “no” on Amendment One. If you think that’s a great idea, well then you are this country’s problem.

Rant over. 

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Obamacare Pt. 3 & 4: Steal from the Young, Give to the Old

Medicare: Good for Seniors, Bad for Policy

Obamacare and Medicare go hand in hand. Medicare is the most covered subject in the new Obamacare law.  Title III covers improving the quality and efficiency of Medicare. Medicare reform is a hot topic issue under the Obama administration, and this law leaves many questions about how the Medicare Trust will be expanded over the next 20 years. Most of the reform to Medicare under Obamacare focuses on lowering costs to seniors and ending massive overpayments to insurance companies.  In order to understand the changes Title III brings to Medicare, let’s start with the basics of the Medicare program.

Medicare Basics

Medicare is a government-run program for seniors age 65 and over, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Rental disease (ERSD). There are different coverages under Medicare called Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D. Part A is hospital insurance including inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care and some healthcare costs. Part B is medical insurance including doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies and preventative services. Part D is prescription drug insurance. Private companies contract with Medicare to provide you with Part A and Part B benefits.

You may notice that I skipped Part C, as this is a private coverage option called Medicare Advantage (“MA”). MA plans include HMOs, PPOs, Private Fee-for-Service, Special Needs, and MMSAPs. Most MA plans also offer prescription drug coverage. MA is actually the reformed portion of Medicare that is covered under Obamacare. Most of the problems that need to be fixed come under MA, and this stems from where MA plans claimed to give “free” coverage to seniors. This “free” coverage in all actuality drove up the cost of the plans and subsequently drove up Medicare costs. Let’s look at how Obamacare plans to fix Medicare under the new law.

Medicare + Obamacare, Title III = Messy

Obamacare plans to reform Medicare to help seniors afford prescription medications (e.g., the Part D drug coverage limit where seniors must start paying out-of-pocket for prescriptions). In 2012, seniors received a 50% discount on brand-name drugs and 14% discount on generic drugs covered under Medicare Part D. This is continued under Obamacare, and increases coverage every year until the hole is filled in 2020. Seniors will only pay normal drug co-pays after that (whatever that is supposed to mean).

Additionally, Obamacare is supposed to stop excess spending on MA.  MA is currently causing a burden on the taxpayer that is disproportionate to the actual amount of people being helped by the program. MA is run by private insurers and costs about $1,000 more per person on the program. Obamacare plans to extend the life of the Medicare Trust fund to at least 2029. This 12-year extension is needed due to reductions in waste, fraud, abuse and program costs. In the end, Medicare beneficiaries are expected to save about $4,200 over the next 10 years due to lower drug costs, free preventative services, and reductions in growth of health spending.

You might be thinking, “This sounds great! I’m glad Grandpa Joe will be getting all of the coverage he needs with no further expense to anyone else.” Wrong. It is the younger generation that will be feeling the heat from this reform of MA and reform of Medicare under Obamacare – not the government. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at how Obamacare’s Medicare changes affect you.

Crushing the Younger Generation One Baby Boomer at a Time

I want to preface this section with the fact that I have nothing against the older generations.  These generations will inevitably be reduced to using the healthcare coverage associated with Medicare – how I wish our generation could be so accustomed to use in the future.  What I do believe is this – the older generation has failed the younger generation and we let them do it.  We are the reason Obamacare is occurring right now. We are the reason the older generation is getting away with this abomination of a law. The older generation has failed to run this country with the dignity and respect that an American politician/representative/Senator/Cabinet member/Supreme Court Justice/Vice President/President should – and we let them do it. When are we going to stand up and fight for what is truly right for our generation?

Rant over. Now let me show you exactly how Obamacare’s Medicare reform is screwing over the younger generation (i.e., you and me).  Obamacare relies heavily on the younger generation’s involvement in the healthcare exchange. As former President Bill Clinton stated recently, “This only works if young people show up.” He is right. And, Obama agreed with the former President: “The way pools work, any pool, is essentially those of us who are healthy subsidize somebody who’s sick, at any given time. We do that because we anticipate at some point we’ll get sick and we hope that the healthy person is in our pool so those costs and those risks get spread. That’s what insurance is all about.” Kind of, Mr. President. Health insurance is a completely different insurance from auto, home, or life insurance. We count on health insurance to cover those costs associated with medical expenses (i.e., check-ups and doctors visits). We do not expect an auto insurer to pay for costs associated with keeping a car maintained, though it would be a wonderful spectacle to observe. Insurance is provided in cases of unplanned instances – that is what insurance should be.

You would think in a capitalist market that shopping around would be a valid opportunity given to the younger generation, especially considering the younger generation is the most important participant. You would be wrong. In order to fund the ever-so-rising costs of Medicare, the healthy (young and old, but mostly young) are required to sign up for Obamacare and pay higher-premium plans. Sure, it covers more – but why do you need all of it? Simple answer: you don’t. But it is necessary for you to pay more into the system so that the older generation can pay less.

Let me turn to Obamacare supporters’ arguments to the above: subsidies. Most of the younger generation will get taxpayer-provided subsidies for those premiums. This is true. However, they will not get subsidies on the deductibles. This means that the younger generation will still be paying thousands upon thousands each year before the insurers will pay their first dollar of benefits.  What does this mean? The younger generation will never get benefits.

Let me turn to my argument against Obama supporters’ arguments: taxes. I am a tax gal, and I look at whether there is redistribution in taxes in general. You will be surprised to learn that there is already a redistribution of funds from the younger to the older generation through the tax system. Elderly households receive more government benefits and pay less tax. Younger households receive less government benefits and pay more tax than they receive back. After doing some research on the actual number for redistribution, it is assumed that over $9,000 per household is transferred from the younger to the older generation.  Obama just accelerates this redistribution. In addition, many of the young people under Obamacare will not qualify for subsidies (which cut off at $48,000 for a single adult).

My Overall Thoughts (and Final Points) on Obamacare

Obamacare is bad policy and will not work in this crippled American economy. On the surface, it only screws over the rich and the young. In depth, it screws over everyone (young, old, rich, poor, white, black). Even the politicians tried to exempt themselves from the policy to no avail. This law was thrown together too quickly so that President Obama would have a lasting legacy. Obama needed something to cover up the failed economy, high unemployment rates, and tragic Benghazi scandal. Obama needed this to propel him into being a rockstar President.

Obama pushed this law for what it could not afford – you can keep your doctor, you can keep your healthcare plan, you will have reduced premiums, you will pay less taxes. Obama could not promise these and in fact had no right to promise these items to the American people. Obama was not a businessman – he was a lawyer. Think about that.

Obamacare fails to work because it pits the young against the old. The younger generation is taking the brunt of the economic failures from the Obama administration. Job creation is extremely important at this time, yet the President failed to mention this topic during the 2014 State of the Union address. Most of the jobs available right now are part-time positions with no advancement (thank you, Obamacare). Most of the younger generation, though educated, are having to work two part-time jobs unrelated to their degrees just to get by in this economy. This isn’t the younger generation Obama wanted for his Obamacare plan…in fact, I don’t believe he knew how bad the economy was until the roll-out of Obamacare occurred.  Remember, Obama was not a businessman – he was a lawyer. Lawyers look at the outcome, businessmen look at the growth. If Obama was a businessman he would have found no potential for growth under Obamacare, thus no outcome would occur. Obama, just like our Congress, was blinded by an unattainable outcome.

It is important that our generation understands that we must be the change we want to see in this world. We cannot rely on the politicians in office to do this for us anymore. Get involved in politics and reading law – it might help you one day. My four-part Obamacare segment is complete. If you have any other questions, feel free to drop me a line here or on any other social media outlet. Also, if you want, follow my blog through email! You will get all of my posts earlier than I post them on social media. Thanks for reading!