A Matter of Life and Death

While House Majority Whip Steve Scalise fights for his life in a DC hospital ICU, you can bet that he and his family won’t be bankrupted by his many surgeries, treatments and care; members of the United States Congress have some of the best health care coverage in the world. Strange then, that our own beloved Senator Pat Toomey would state in his recent televised town hall meeting that because Obamacare is still the law, he is “stuck” with health care that he actually “hate[s].”

As if that’s what Obamacare was all about: “leveling” health care coverage; driving everyone’s care down to the lowest common denominator. We’re supposed to believe that poor Pat Toomey and the heartless, craven Republican cabal that have drafted in secret the Affordable Health Care Act’s replacement are stuck with ghetto health insurance!

You’ll recall that Scalise and some capitol area police officers were wounded on June 14th when James Hodgkinson, 66 years old and unemployed, opened fire on house Republicans during baseball practice for a charity game. Needless to say, Hodgkinson, later identified as a Sanders supporter and someone who was staunchly anti-Trump, was against Republican officeholders in general. Could the health care issue have been one of the reasons for his rage?

All the breezy, almost casual language tossed around by Republicans – and Democrats, too – about the number of people who will be affected by the GOP plan, distances us from the fact that access to quality health care is a matter of life and death. And forgotten in the bickering is the fact that even after Obamacare, tens of millions Americans remained uninsured and underinsured. How dare those who would increase that figure by even one person consider themselves civilized?

In his July 5th town hall meeting, Sen. Toomey said his policy priorities were “stronger economic growth” and “enhanced security.” When it comes to health care, Toomey’s strategy is to “stabilize the insurance market” first – and we know the kind of people who control the insurance industry and what “stability” means to them – and then worry about people’s needs. In his view, the federal government has little or no role to play in expanding guaranteed coverage to the poor, nor can it afford to: our enhanced-security state is being starved of funding!

The future battle over health care

People like Toomey can go on and on with their arguments which are quite frankly straight-up bullshit since they have little to do with the human condition and everything to do with human greed. The ruling political party in our nation even turns an issue like health care into a scheme for transferring wealth upward. There is now – and has been for a long time – a bill before Congress that would guarantee quality health coverage for all Americans. H.R. 676, the Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act, would move the US into the late 20th century by creating a single-payer system of universal coverage.

Some people rejoice at the fact 113 members of the House of Representatives – more than half the Democratic delegation – are now cosponsors of H.R. 676. But most of these are converts, the very same mealy-mouthed mo-fo’s who found every “reasonable” excuse in the world to pooh-pooh single-payer in favor of Obama and Nancy Pelosi’s market-based plan a few years ago. Now that there’s no stopping the GOP from passing a backwards plan if they ever actually get their ducks in order, it’s easy to be for universal coverage. But when it’s time to replace the GOP plan (and that time will come in as little as four years) and powerful, “reasonable” (i.e., moneyed) interests speak up, how many of the 113 will remain for single-payer?

The battle-lines are drawn and we should never let those who say they support H.R. 676 now, forget that in 2021.

— Jim Collins

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