Wednesday, March 29, 2017

269. Our health is too important for political football

In illustrating his ignorance, President Donald Trump asked the question, “Who knew health care could be so complicated?”

I have two responses. The first is that everyone, literally everyone, knows health care is complicated. The second is, who elects someone who doesn’t understand that?

Trump said he was going to repeal the Affordable Care Act “immediately,” and “replace it with something terrific.” He and the Republicans failed to do so, despite having full control of the Senate, House of Representative and the White House and despite having obsessed about its repeal for seven years. They finally got in the game and choked — they looked like deer in the headlights. They were clueless and reports of their negotiations indicated they were willing to sell out the essentials of health care to avoid political embarrassment.

Health care affects everyone and almost always in multiple ways. It not only affects ourselves, it affects our family and friends. Most of us have seen someone we love fall ill, or become addicted to drugs, or suffer from mental health issues. It affects our finances and sometimes where and how long we work. Without health care coverage, people risk bankruptcy each and every day. Many also work in the health care field, directly or indirectly. Large complex medical corporations, hospital networks, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies employ millions.

And it affects everyone differently in terms of affordability and coverage. Health care is different for poor people and rich people. For individual and for families. For older people and younger people. For men and women. For people in different states. And for the employed, self-employed, and unemployed.

In that respect, that mostly white, wealthy men are making all the decisions is neglecting the challenges of diversity.

I have long advocated for national health care. Everyone pays, everyone is covered. Employers wouldn’t have to worry about providing insurance for their employees and people could work (or retire) without considering medical benefits. The large profits would be removed from the health care system — no longer would skyrocketing costs be associated with insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. Government health care is nonprofit, with reasonable costs and modest salaries.

In that respect, I have no emotional or political ties to Obamacare. It is better than nothing, for sure, but falls short of what national health care could offer. I don’t know if health care is necessarily a right, but it is the right thing to do. It’s about human compassion and human decency. It seems for Republicans, health care is more about money than about people. It also seems driven by politics and not by the heart.

I will not gloat at the president’s loss. And I am disturbed by anyone who would take pleasure in letting Obamacare fail. If it fails, people get hurt. And if you are the president and have full control of Congress, and you think the lives of American citizens are at risk, then you have an obligation to improve health care. It is about the people, not your damaged ego.

Health care is hard work, there are lots of interests at stake, it impacts everyone, and is one-sixth of our economy. That unprepared Republicans attempted to make changes to health care in 64 days, and that the president abruptly ended negotiations, displays ignorance and arrogance.

For many Republicans, this was a political promise; for Trump, in a world lacking specifics, where things are either a “disaster” or terrific,” it was way too complicated to hold his attention.

The country should be offended with the effort made by Republicans. Health care is too important. It needs to be a bipartisan effort, considering both the financial and health aspects of this enormous industry. And in doing so, it should be carefully researched in all its complexity. There is a reason Obamacare was thousands of pages long.

However, I can save them some work. The simple answer, embraced by many other countries, continues to be national health care

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