T-Minus 7 Days: Deeds Done in the Dark

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I woke up this morning to disturbing, but not exactly surprising, news. Late last night and into the early hours of today the GOP-dominated Senate as lead by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (a man I’ve long described as looking like a confused turtle — sorry, I tend to be very visual in how describe people, including those I agree with) approved a budget that sets up the gutting and destruction of the Affordable Care Act. That the Senate did during a late night vote-a-rama doesn’t really bother me. Vote-a-rama’s are a tool both sides of the aisle have used to shove unlimited amendments onto budget resolutions. I’ve heard the events are actually very informative and thrilling to watch. What bothers me is that this vote-a-rama was tucked into an already overloaded news day (the Trump press conference and how completely bizarre it was took up most of the news cycle) so the seriousness of what was happening was able to be done in the dark. It’s dirty politics as usual, but this feels like an act of menace on the well-being of the American people. Yes, menace. Because attacking people’s access to healthcare is an act of hate.

Let me be clear: the Affordable Care Act is a hot mess. It’s by no means perfect and it needs some work. What first foray into a major shift in a culture doesn’t need work? But even for its faults and flaws, the Affordable Care Act, perhaps better known as Obamacare, is a critical lifeline for millions of Americans. It opened up access to insurance to people who otherwise didn’t have access. It provided much-needed allowances and coverage in the area of women’s medicine that nudged things closer to women being able to get equal and critical care. It had provisions that kept insurance companies from denying people coverage due to preexisting conditions and prevented insurance companies from crippling people financially through prohibiting lifetime limits. These are just the high notes. On the whole, it did a whole lot of good for people who otherwise can’t get insurance and thus, can’t get care.

And let me be clear again: there are problems with the ACA. Premiums? Yeah, they’re rising. However, that’s not actually the fault of the ACA. Insurance companies, no longer able to selectively fleece people have started jacking up their premiums for the ACA plans. But, spoiler alert, insurance premiums have been increasing every year for a decade even before the ACA. After the ACA? The rate of increase as slowed. Greed on the part of insurance companies, not the ACA, are responsible for rate increases. Honestly, if you’re having issues with your ACA insurance the place you need to look as you place blame is the insurance companies. Not the ACA. And sure as hell not Democrats.

Yet, for all of my anger and desire to educate about this issue the thing that chills me is that the Republicans do not have a plan to replace the ACA. Unless, of course, you call “screwing over women, children, and the poor” a plan. I’m not being hyperbolic, either. The reproductive health portions of the ACA are critical for many women to get the care and screenings they need to find and treat cancer. Children who can’t be covered via their states’ Medicaid or S-CHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) can be covered on their parents’ ACA coverage. And as for the working poor? Yep, the ACA might be their only hope. The GOP wants to take that away. I’ve read that they want to replace things with a Health Savings Account, but that’s quite possibly the most stupid idea yet. They want people to put the money they’d spend on insurance premiums into a bank account of sorts to pay for care. Except in one trip to the pharmacy that money might be wiped out, making it impossible to get care or refills for the next month. At least insurance provided actual coverage. And here’s something else I doubt the GOP cares about or even cares to know: most doctors will not see you if you do not have some form of insurance. Period. I’ve seen this first hand, standing in a doctor’s reception area with a woman recently discharged from the hospital after an emergency surgery as she was told that the doctor would not see her to remove her stitches and address a concern about infection because she didn’t have insurance. No “you can pay cash” or “do you have an HSA”. She was denied service because she simply didn’t have insurance.

The ACA, or some form of comprehensive healthcare coverage for all, is desperately needed in the United States. I don’t understand why we all can’t agree on that and actually do something that will help people instead of being about money and greed and the conservative movement’s need to punish the poor. I guess what I really want to know is why does the GOP hate America so much that they can’t stand the idea of a whole, healthy nation?

Seven more days.

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