The “ We can’t afford it” Healthcare Myth
By Alexander Jasinski
As Republicans hold private meetings and closed door consolations, the public becomes more worried about the legislation intended to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), along with how it will affect their health care costs and coverage. Will the price of insurance increase? Will people be dropped from their insurance providers for preexisting conditions that were protected under the ACA? No one is quite sure as they haven’t shown the American public a shred of detail on how they plan to ‘overhaul’ the American health care system.
Prior to President Obama and the ACA, the topic of health care was rarely discussed and debated as a hot button issue that it is today. But before we get ahead of ourselves on how the Republicans plan to benefit Big Pharmaceutical companies and the health insurance companies at the expense of everyday Americans, we must first come to terms with what the ACA is The Affordable Care Act is a policy proposal constructed on the basis of “RomneyCare, the Massachusetts health care reform law that was passed in 2006 under then Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Just like RomneyCare, the ACA did not offer a public option to the American people. RomneyCare required everyone to have health insurance through private insurers, or pay a fine (a conservative idea supported by groups like the Heritage Foundation).
The ACA was a Republican health care plan sold as change and progress; Democrats controlled both the executive and legislative branch when the ACA was passed. Democrats did not change the health care system, in part, because of the kickbacks and campaign donations they received from the health care and insurance companies (see Max Baucus’ efforts to shut down the public option).
Recently, single-payer legislation in California has been roadblocked and sidelined by the leader of the California Assembly. California Democrats hold majorities in both houses of the legislature. They also hold the Governor’s mansion.
A Gallup poll from May 2016 stated that 58% of Americans support a federally funded health care providing insurance for all Americans. The support is even higher among Democrats at 73%, yet some Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, stated during a 2016 campaign rally that “[single payer] is a theoretical debate … that will never ever come to pass!”
Let’s talk numbers; The United States is the wealthiest country in the world – yet we are the only Western nation that does not provide a federal health care system for every man, woman and child. Legislatures and pundits will argue that health care is something that we can’t afford or they hold to the falsehood that it will mean the government will have absolute control over health care. The sad truth behind the falsehood of saying that “we can’t afford universal health care” is that we are spending well over the cost to provide everyone health care with senseless wars and occupations.
The ongoing occupation of Afghanistan which began in 2001 has cost the American taxpayers over 1 trillion dollars. To give a more recent comparison; the April 7th 59 tomahawk cruise missile strike against Syria costed the American taxpayers 50 million dollars. To argue that we simply can’t afford health care is an utter lie. If we can spend trillions of dollars on intervention and nation destroying military actions we can allocate the estimate $592 billion from the war chest to provide everyone health care. For some context, this May, the US senate passed the fiscal budget for 2017, the omnibus bill contains $598.5 billion for defense, which is roughly $25 billion above 2016 levels.
Universal health care will save the country money as a whole with preventative care being citizens’ first option rather than prolonging treatment till they are being rushed to the emergency room on the verge of death for a greatly more expensive bill than preventative care would have cost. Health care for all makes the country more productive with workers taking less time off to deal with medical issues as they will not prolong receiving treatment for their ailments and not fear a burden of health care expenses pilling up.
The main opponents against universal health care are predatory health care insurers and Big Pharma. The Pharmaceuticals/Health Products and Insurance providers are the two most prominent lobbyist groups in America. Why? Because these groups have lobbied against all reforms to the health care industry that would hurt their profits. These groups were not strongly against the ACA because it mandated that everyone is required to buy insurance (from them). Democrats and President Obama did not do nearly enough to offer a public option to the American people through the Affordable Care Act. Few elected representatives fought against the stranglehold these industries have over the American People.
Earlier this year, former President Obama reentered the pubic arena following the 2016 election by announcing that he will be receiving a $400,000 fee from Cantor Fitzgerald LP, a Wall Street finance company, for speaking at a health care conference. Even president Obama, who has called the Wall Street elite “fat cats” during his presidency, is closer to the special interests in the health care field than most Democrats find comfortable.
It was in November 1945 that President Harry Truman first planned on expanding Medicare to all but it was dismissed as “socialized medicine” by the American Medical Association. Today, and in recent memory over the last 20 years, some Democrats have championed for President Truman’s vision, only to invoke the idea and later back peddle and reverse course. With overwhelming support of a single payer option it will take the will of the people to overcome the lobbyist and their campaign donations to get health care as a right for all – not as a privilege for a few.
Only scrutiny and perseverance will protect the American people from the wrath of the plutocrats and their bought legislatures.