John Colson: A call for support of the ‘Medicare For All’ bill
September 25, 2017
As I finish this column, the Republican Party is poised for the umpteenth time to take a stab at killing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (that's its full, formal name, by the way), passed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and the then-Democrat-controlled Congress.
Unfortunately for the GOP, despite its current controlling grip on the presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court, the party has been unable to destroy the health care law, stopped in large part by an upswelling of support for the law from consumers of all stripes, health care experts, governors of various states and even some members of the Republican Party itself.
And, as I sit at my desk and pen these words, pundits of the internet are reporting that it appears that this latest "repeal and replace" effort will not succeed, either, thanks mostly to the maverick ways of several Republicans who had signaled as of Sunday night that they would be voting "no" when the question comes up this week.
Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, both Republican moderates who voted against earlier repeal-and-replace efforts, have been under intense pressure from all sides of this donnybrook.
They and others were even the subjects of barely concealed bribery attempts by the primary sponsors of the repeal-and-replace legislation — Sens. Lindsay Graham (R, S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) — who at the last minute modified the bill to include extra payments to states represented by potential no-voting senators, and even at one point offering to permit Alaska, for example, to keep the ACA in operation while the rest of the country watched it die.
And other Republican senators joined in the no-chorus over the weekend, including John McCain of Arizona and even Ted Cruz of Texas, though for very different reasons. McCain indicated he thought the whole bill was a sham being pushed through with inadequate debate and public input, while Cruz simply thought it wasn't mean enough and left intact too many aspects of the ACA.
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As I noted at the beginning of this column, the fate of the ACA remained up in the air as my deadline approached, though all indications were that it would go down in flames once again.
So why even write about it?
Primarily because I want to remind readers of certain facts.
First of all, in my eyes, all the Republicans' efforts to repeal it and replace it this year have fallen so far short of actually improving our health care system that it would be laughable if it weren't for the fact that health care is so important. It represents the single most expensive part of most families' economic and physical well-being, and it takes up nearly one-fifth of our overall national economy.
On top of that, just in case you've forgotten, Republicans predicted the end of the world as we knew it when the law was passed, and spent the ensuing seven years doing everything they could to underfund it, undermine it and denigrate it, starting with applying the derisive nickname, Obamacare.
In a fairly smart public relations move, the president himself later adopted the nickname as a way of taking the sting out of the race-baiting ugliness that the nickname represented.
Today, of course, the Affordable Care Act is in relative tatters, and it is the Republican party's machinations that have made it so. First they spread lies all over the country about the harm the ACA would do (remember the "death panels" and allegations that it was akin to communism?).
Then they yanked out promised subsidies for insurance companies (an enticement to get the companies to offer insurance under the ACA in the first place), which caused many companies to pull out of the system.
And then they lied about the level of the ACA's "failures" to help normal Americans get health care, lies that were disproved time and time again in countless success stories about families saved from bankruptcy, deaths and other calamities by the simple fact that the ACA was there for them when they needed it.
Sure, the ACA is an imperfect solution to an intractable problem, but that's been the story of health care in our country since we moved away from country doctors to the massively expensive, inefficient, corporatized "system" that we are confronted with today.
And I firmly believe that a single-payer system, such as the proposal by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called "Medicare For All" in a recently drafted bill, is the only way we're ever going to get to a solution.
That is what the rest of the industrialized world has discovered, and the mere fact that their health care systems are much more efficient and affordable than ours should be proof that they are right and we have been wrong.
So, in the hope that the Graham-Cassidy bill will fall to an ignominious defeat this week, I thought I would put this reminder out there, along with a call for people to get behind the Sanders bill, or some other version if one comes up instead.
We need to get this wrapped up in a way that provides needed relief and security to our citizenry pretty damned quickly, or we're going to find ourselves up the creek without a paddle as our population ages, sickens and dies in numbers like we've never seen before.
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