A week ago my head was swirling with the news that Trumpcare had passed out of the House by the slimmest of margins. Not only had the Republicans revived the AHCA, but they got the votes needed by adding the draconian MacArthur amendment.
And then Congress went on recess, returned to their home districts, and faced their constituents. Things didn’t go smoothly for everyone.
Rep. Labrador’s (R-ID) town hall went viral when he was filmed claiming that “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”
Rep. MacArthur (R-NJ) had a five-hour town hall meeting where the crowd was hostile and the news media well represented.
Kind of hard to blame his constituents for their strong reaction. After all, the amendment that bares Rep. MacArthur’s name is expected to make healthcare for prohibitively expensive for millions of people. People who didn’t realize that giving birth or having gone through a c-section or experiencing postpartum depression put them among those with preexisting conditions. People who rely on expanded medicaid coverage that could be undermined by their state opting out of some provisions. People who are in their 50s or 60s, or one day will be. People who now fear that they won’t be able to afford health insurance for themselves or their families. They’re not happy about that. And they’re letting their members of congress know that.
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It’s one thing to deny someone a right or privilege. It’s a whole other thing to take away a right or privilege after it’s been given.
Obamacare, which remains the law of the land, gave Americans the right to access health care. It doesn’t matter if you are living with a preexisting condition, you cannot be denied or priced out of coverage. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, you cannot be charged more for insurance just because of your gender. You can expect to have the ten essential health benefits covered.
We’ve been living with these assurances for a couple of years now. Long enough to feel the effects on our personal health. But not so long that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to be denied health insurance because you were unlucky enough to be labeled with a preexisting condition, like diabetes. Not long enough to forget how expensive prescriptions can be when you have to buy them retail. Not long enough to forget how a single trip to the emergency room can put you on the road to bankruptcy.
The argument for the AHCA is an economic one: the country can’t afford to pay for everyone to have health insurance. Healthcare costs are on an upward trajectory. Chronic illness is epidemic.
The argument against AHCA is an economic one: the country can’t afford to have its productivity and GDP undermined by a chronically ill population. Chronic illness is epidemic.
Where these two sides diverge is in their preferred solution. One wants the individual to pay. The other wants the group to pay. The result is stalemate.
So, where do we go from here?
I think we’re going to have to ask the thirteen male GOP senators who are writing the Senate’s version of the healthcare bill.
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