Yesterday, my wife Jackie and I joined the protest at the State Capitol in Hartford against the Republican repeal of Obamacare. We were part of a crowd of perhaps a thousand people, in concert with many thousands nationwide, and we were there, despite the cold weather, because protesting was the right thing to do. In addition to speeches by our Senators, Chris Murphy and Dick Blumenthal, and other congressmen, we heard from several speakers who attribute their continued existence to key provisions of Obamacare, allowing them critically to obtain insurance and care in the face of lethal pre-existing conditions. For those speakers, losing access to care is a death sentence, every bit as much as if they were marched to the guillotine. For many others, loss of Obamacare is a sentence to chronic poverty for both patient and family. With modern advances in medicine and medicine’s rapacious pricing schemes, any major illness – faced without insurance – is a fast track to bankruptcy.
What makes the actions of the Republicans and Mr. Trump so despicable is that their arguments are not only mean-spirited but demonstrably false – products of fantasies analogous to their denials of global warming. Their arguments against universal care are demonstrably false because health care as a right has been recognized by all modern nations with the exception of the United States and because by all statistical measures – such as successful child births and life expectancy – the western European nations and Canada have significantly better results than the United States for about two thirds of the cost. (Consider for example this linked article comparing the US system to the rest of the world.) Obamacare is defective only in its failure to model itself on those European systems – a failure that stemmed from opposition to a single-payer system from the corporate health insurance, medical, and pharmaceutical sectors, corporations whose only concern or morality is enlarging their bottom line – regardless of social cost. Obamacare should be replaced, but only by a carefully crafted single-payer system such as that proposed by Bernie Sanders modeled on those systems in Europe that guarantee universal care and that rein in the price gouging of the medical industry.
Incidentally, if you are actually uncertain about how the US system works to the detriment of its citizens, you might consider Bernie’s recent effort to legalize the importation of Canadian drugs, which was defeated 52-46 by Republicans, with the assistance of a body of corporation-protecting Democrats. Canadian drugs are identical to drugs in the United States (same manufacturers, same content) but sell at a substantial discount to the US prices. As Bernie notes, we import fruit and vegetables, why not drugs? But the US Congress only saw a threat to corporate profits, not an effort to help its most vulnerable citizens, and the measure was defeated. See this linked article in the Seattle Times.
There is no reason that we can not do as well or better in providing medical care than the rest of the world. We have the technology and facilities. At heart, we, as Americans, are no less caring than our brothers and sisters elsewhere. It time to take back our country and do the right thing. It is time to hold Mr. Trump, the Republicans, and their corporate shills accountable.