Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Does healthcare have to be partisan?

This is what passes for healthcare policy in Wyoming. Convenience stores place jars on the counter into which customers drop spare change to pay someone’s medical bills. Facebook posts GoFundMe requests asking folks to chip in for someone’s medical bills. Families with steep unpaid medical bills file bankruptcy. People don’t receive necessary care and because they’re uninsured.

What does Wyoming’s congressional delegation propose?

Rep. Cheney cast the deciding vote forTrumpCare, which means we can call it CheneyCare. The Congressional Budget Office said the House bill will mean thousands of her constituents will lose their health insurance while premiums for others will skyrocket.

For their part, Mike Enzi and John Barrasso joined the partisan conspiracy aimed at getting a bill enacted before anyone knows what hit them. No Democrats were allowed to participate. No Women. None of their constituents. No hearings. No public input. Just 13 old, white men including Senators Enzi and Barrasso sitting around the table, shuffling the cards, and dealing a bad hand to the rest of us.

The Senate will vote before the 4th of July recess. Wyoming’s Senators promise there’ll be plenty of time to review the bill. But there will be no hearings. No opportunity for the experts to testify. No time for the victims of this law to weigh in. Now that McConnell has delayed a vote beyond the 4th of July recess, there is time for Enzi and Barrasso to come home and ask us what we think, but they won’t.

TrumpCare will harm Red states like Wyoming. The CBO estimated 23 million Americans will lose their insurance, most because of pre-existing conditions. Cheney claimed the bill took care of those folks. It doesn’t. That’s one reason Trump called the bill “mean.”

Why are Wyoming’s senators party to secret, partisan deliberations? Wouldn’t it be better for Americans and the success of the legislation if Enzi, Barrasso, and their GOP colleagues were more transparent and more inclusive?

Doesn’t it seem like Republicans could sit with Democrats and agree on these basics? One, healthcare is a right. Two, we are all personally responsible to purchase insurance. Three, insurance should cover essential medical needs.

If lawmakers believe healthcare is a privilege to be rationed based on ability to pay, millions will continue to get sick earlier and die sooner. Being well and without need for healthcare is a temporary condition regardless of your income level. Eventually we’ll all require it. Criminal defendants have a right to a lawyer. Shouldn’t we all have a right to medical care?

Second, let’s agree that buying insurance is a matter of personal responsibility? If younger, healthier people are not required to buy insurance, when they inevitably get sick or have an accident, their bills get passed along to us in skyrocketing premiums and taxes.  

The law should mandate we take responsibility for our own healthcare? We’re required to buy Medicare insurance from the time we started working. We’re mandated to buy automobile liability insurance so that others don’t have to pay for damages we may cause in an accident? Why not health insurance?

Third, insurance should cover essential medical care. Consider this. You can buy a car without wheels, windshield, or engine. But, a car with four wheels, a windshield, and an engine will cost more. If insurance companies are selling policies that don’t cover much, they won’t cost as much. If they’re required to insure the health problems most people actually experience in the normal course of life, the premium will rise. When you get sick, which do you want?

If Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on the basics, having Enzi and Barrasso work behind closed doors to write a bill along with other old, white men, and then attempt to shove down our throats, makes sense.

In their drive to repeal a law that a majority of Americans no longer want repealed, politicians like Enzi and Barrasso have marginalized their constituents and clarified their own values, which are, unfortunately, partisan rather than democratic values.

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