The vote by the Republican House to repeal the Affordable Care Act was met with mewling horse race coverage by abundantly-insured CNN pundits more interested in political maneuvering than actual bodies of millions of Americans.
CNN declared, “Health care win could be shot in arm Trump, GOP need.” CNN neglected to mention whether that shot would be covered under the new plan. Or: “How Donald Trump won another unlikely victory.”
CNN can’t contain their excitement that Republicans kept a campaign promise successfully. In a cliffhanger. If Trump actually punched a protester in the face, as he said he would at a campaign rally, CNN would hail him for being a man of his word. They would rush on air to declare it the moment Trump became president.
The Republicans are now more death panel than political party. If pro-Trump fascists rioting in Berkeley dressing like off-brand Uruk-Hai were too subtle, the health care vote confirms GOP as the party of death. Gorsuch’s first Supreme Court vote was to execute people in Arkansas. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act spells doom for millions of Americans who rely on subsidized individual plans and Medicaid.
The biggest agency in San Francisco, the Department of Public Health, will be hobbled. When people freak out because they’re not getting care they need or die on the streets, send their cadaver to Paul Ryan.
More than half of California’s children are on Medi-Cal. In most California counties, more than one quarter of the population is on Medi-Cal. People’s lives will be destroyed because Paul Ryan is offended by the idea of regulation, because Trump cannot tolerate anything popular created by a black man, and because Mike Pence wants to summon the rapture.
With health care policy, neoliberals are fond of saying there are three variables—universal access, cost, and quality—and you can only pick two. Arguably in the United States, we haven’t picked one.
From the outset, everyone knew the Affordable Care Act would significantly expand access to care but punted on cost. The ACA didn’t include actual regulation of insurance rates. Instead, the cost containment measures were theoretical, depending on states to implement. According to an October LA Times analysis, states that zealously and effectively embraced implementation ended up with health insurance premiums increasing 10 percent less than states that didn’t.
State legislators in red states are too busy trying to stop black people from voting to have a spare moment to promote public health. While they are technically correct that the easy way to control cost is to let people die, that message fails in focus groups. Health insurance is quite cheap if your high-risk pool has no pulse. Those of us who believe in the living knew the problem of cost would resurface.
Which is why we’re back to single payer, a.k.a. Medicare for All. It has the advantage of not being associated with Obama but with kindly white Europeans, not to mention that it gets the most health care to the most people for the least cost. Maybe Bernie lost the battle and won the war. Even conservative icon Charles Krauthammer complained on Fox News that we’d be at single payer inside seven years. A recent Gallup poll reported that 73 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of all Americans support single payer, and other polls confirm that support for single payer is growing.
Meanwhile national Democrats are fantasizing about hanging the health care vote over Republican Congresspeople in 2018. Job creation for politicians is more exciting than noticing the suffering of poor people. Nancy Pelosi’s record of being stuck in the ‘90s continues unabated. After saying that the recent elections don’t require Democrats to change, nothing can be done about capitalism, Democrats can be anti-choice, she recently also opposed single payer health care.
Once again, Pelosi is out of step with a majority of her own party. Will someone run against her already?
Nato Green is a San Francisco-based comedian, writer, and union organizer. See him live for mystery science-style movie-mocking of Travolta/Cage classic “Face/Off” at Riffer’s Delight on Thursday, May 25 at the Alamo Drafthouse.