Clete Wetli, Contributor, As Originally Published on al.com on June 27, 2017
Instead of trying to fix America’s healthcare system by making sensible, obvious adjustments to the Affordable Care Act that would lower costs and ensure more universal coverage, Republican’s continue to make cruel and unusual proposals that seem to only benefit the wealthiest. Of course, our incoherent president contradicted himself by first calling the House version of the bill “incredibly well-crafted”, but then went on to say it was “mean”. Honestly, Trump doesn’t seem to really care what’s in the bill just so long as he can claim a victory lap.
C’mon, Republicans have had over seven years to come up with something that makes sense. Yet, it seems the only thing they can agree on is more tax cuts for the wealthiest and making it harder for the poor to get or keep affordable care.
The cruel part is the crafty, political double-speak they’re using to sell their mean-spirited prescription. They have been emphasizing the idea of “access” to purchase insurance, knowing full well that it’s not the same as actually “having” coverage. “Access” to purchase a Lamborghini isn’t the same as making the monthly payment and parking it in your driveway.
The unusual part is the bold lying by Republicans on television to pretend that their “give the rich more money” plan is somehow a life-saving cure for our nation’s healthcare system. We’ve come to expect that from the forked tongue of Kellyanne Conway, but now, they’ve got HHS Secretary Tom Price in on the carnival barking act. Price and Conway want people to really believe that the Senate plan won’t cut Medicaid and that “no one will have the rug pulled out from under them”. Their audacity is unusual, disturbing, and laughable in a gothic, cynical sort of way.
The hardliner Republicans are unhappy because they don’t think the bill is cruel or unusual enough, because they fundamentally believe that healthcare is a privilege, not a right. As lovers of an unfettered, unregulated free market, they believe that insurers should make as much money off the sick as the market will allow. So what if grandma goes bankrupt trying to pay her medical bills- maybe, she should have gotten a better job when she was younger, right?
One of the amazing things has been watching a bad bill get substantially worse as it moves through the process. It’s happening because the base of the Republican Party doesn’t like the notion that everyone should have health coverage. They like the idea that poor people have no coverage (they get what they deserve) or a plan that covers basically nothing, while they whip out their employer-subsidized platinum card.
As this new Republican Senate bill is being made more cruel and unusual, it’s worth noting that the Republicans are also advocating for the rights of insurance companies to sell junk plans again. Oh, they’re innovating like a think-tank running on nitrous oxide as they put in provisions to make that enormous tax break for the rich retroactive so they get another huge bonus, aside from the joy of watching poor folks lose insurance.
The other cruel and unusual thing about this whole fiasco is the artificially fast timeline that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has put on the whole process. Heck, why even get a CBO score? So what if no one has time to read any of the legal mumbo jumbo in it? Who’s got time for that? Whatever happens, you can rest easy knowing the senators will still have a good, government subsidized health plan.
The Republican Senate looks like they’re taking a “mean” bill and turning it deliberately into something profoundly cruel and pathologically unusual.