Don't You Forget About Healthcare
Oh, you know. Just some Republicans smiling at their shitstorm of a health care bill. At this point, we are all fully aware that the Tweeter-in-Chief is an expert at creating several simultaneous dumpster fires. Former FBI Director James Comey’s Senate testimony has put the spotlight on Trump obstructing justice, the terror attacks in London and Manchester continue to be politicized and exploited by the GOP, climate change denial on the right is still going strong, and yes, there is still an ongoing investigation into the extent to which our election was hacked by Russia. So it would be easy, amongst all of this insanity, to forget about health care. I wouldn’t blame you. Compared to the Donald’s blatant self-destruction from which none of us can look away, health care isn’t all that sexy. In a perfect world, we would only be debating about the implementation of health care policy; that is, how best to provide it universally to the 300+ million people in our country. There are financial and logistical hurdles over which to jump, and the most likely outcome would be that our two major parties would envision different paths to the endgame of full coverage for all. But the basic idea that every person in our country deserves health care seems pretty elementary, right?
Wrong. When Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Washington’s resident jellyfish, spouts his famous line that “everyone deserves access to affordable health care,” the most important word in this sentence is “access.” Access to health care should mean that well-functioning hospitals, ERs, urgent care clinics, etc. are within reach to all citizens of our country, regardless of urban or rural setting. However, what Paul Ryan and the GOP mean by “access,” of course, is wealth. Everyone has access to pretty much everything. For example, access to abortion in the state of Texas is severely limited but not entirely eradicated; the wealthiest of Texas women can afford to rack up a hotel bill in addition to covering the cost of gas, food, and anything else required on the journey to reach one of the state’s few clinics. While “access” still exists, that access is only feasible to those who are able to pay for it. Paul Ryan could just as easily be advertising Lamborghinis – accessible to us all, but financially unavailable to so many.
What this all leads back to is this intrinsic conservative principle that each of us is given the same opportunities in life, no matter who or where we are. We all have access to the very best of everything in America, so long as we are willing to live our lives the right way – both literally and ideologically. But that just isn’t reality, and it leaves no room for unplanned or unexpected events, or even for basic human mistakes. Upward social and economic mobility is slipping through our fingertips as the gap between the wealthy and the poor shrinks, making it extremely difficult for young people to avoid the same road bumps as their parents. Trump was elected partly based on his promise to not cut Medicaid, a program that benefits not just the poorest among us but regular, everyday families with ailments beyond their control; his budget shows that cuts are indeed in the future if it is passed. Even if the budget and health care bill are not passed, it still illustrates the GOP’s disconnect with those in serious need, and how their policies are inefficient and detrimental.
Right now, Senate Republicans are finishing up a draft of their health care bill behind closed doors, without any plans for hearings or feedback. It won’t be released to the public, which is stunning, considering Republicans were swift to criticize Democrats for lack of transparency during the drafting of Obamacare. Republicans hope to get their bill passed by the 4th of July; then they will be able to go off on their merry summer recess and come back ready to legislate tax cuts for the top 1% of Americans. The Trump administration seems to think that the public’s attention can be soaked up by the various other conflicts it creates; we must show them that we refuse to be distracted. As our friends at Pod Save America like to say, we need to walk and chew gum. This is the time to put the democratic process to good use.
Here is a great chunk of information about the AHCA (aka Trumpcare) with the impacts separated by state, and how you personally can take a stand against it. It is important that as Americans, we recognize that stripping around 23 million of our fellow citizens of their health care in order to make room in our budget for massive tax cuts for the wealthy is wrong. Even if one person were to lose coverage under this bill, it would be wrong. We need to stand up for women who are stuck in cycles of poverty and have no financial means of taking control of their reproductive rights. We need to stand up for people with pre-existing and often uncontrollable conditions. We need to stand up for Medicaid. We need to stand up against Republican politicians who think that drafting a bill with no transparency and passing it quietly is the best way to take care of the citizens that it claims to want to protect. Just because health care is accessible does not mean it is affordable, and that is the true problem with the AHCA.