Columns 2017

Seven years of bitching and they still didn’t think about coming up with a good replacement

So we are once again caught up in a health care debate that will probably end as badly as every attempt by Republicans to repeal Obamacare. And I once again have to wonder how Republicans could have spent the past seven years attempting to repeal it without ever thinking of what comes next. How could they spend seven years screaming like stuck pigs over this health care law and forget to come up with a decent replacement plan?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not perfect; far from it. Premiums can be so high that families opt to pay the penalty for not carrying insurance rather than the premium. Young people aren’t buying in enough to create the pool needed to make the program completely viable. These are just two of the issues that need to be addressed to make the ACA a viable health plan for America. There are many more.

But the bottom line is that this act also forced insurance carriers to cover pre-existing conditions, allow you to keep your child on your insurance until they were 26 and created a basic menu of services that had to be covered. All those things are good and positive outcomes of this law. The chance that they will survive if the states get hold of the money currently funding parts of the ACA is minimal.

Sure some states would do the right thing and retain the best parts of the plan. But other states… well, just look at how many smoking cessation programs were created with the money from tobacco settlements. The money was sent to the states and many states used it very creatively for many things but not necessarily anything that mitigated smoking.

For the life of me I can’t figure out why Republicans are so adamantly opposed to people having access to decent health care. No bill they have presented to date provides that access better than the current ACA. And again, I must point out that they have had seven years to bitch and moan about Obamacare but it apparently never occurred to them that they needed a replacement plan. It never occurred to them that people who have finally experienced the security that comes with a viable health insurance plan are not going to be happy about it being taken away.

There’s a reason that countries that have universal health care coverage are not agitating to over turn their programs. There will always be debate on costs and services but the basic expectation that everyone will have access to health care is not questioned in those countries. None of them are pushing to imitate American’s current system of what is more appropriately called death care. Why? Because every treatment denied to a sick patient is another dollar in some insurance executive’s pocket. Yep, we are the only country on earth that has incentivized death as a profit motive.

America is the only First World country in which people have to use a Go Fund Me account to pay for health care. We are the only country in the world where profits on legal drugs can be greater than the profit margin on illegal drugs. I’m sure you local meth dealers would love to be able to just raise their prices 500% for no good reason while their customers have no choice but to buy from them.

I think it’s fairly obvious that the health industry in this country owns politicians on both sides of the aisle. While Republicans may be making the loudest noise right now to allow their pharma overlords to continue to make obscene profits, the Democrats are complicit and just as guilty. They can’t work for the people when they work for drug companies and health insurance carriers whose bottom line is profit.

Think about that for a moment. Our entire health care system is based on people making obscene profits off our illnesses. Their incentive is to collect our premiums and then deny our care requests so that they can reports records profits to their shareholders. Your death is good for their bottom line.

The ACA needs a lot of work to become a better health care plan for America. And, in fact, dumping it completely and going to a single payer system is probably the only real answer. But repealing the flawed law we currently have to go back to basically nothing that will help and a lot that will hurt the most vulnerable is just wrong.