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Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Cruel and senseless

by Tom Sullivan

Story link here.

Health care is personal, intensely personal, I wrote two weeks ago. I have several friends fighting cancer. If you don't, you will. Two of them made their stories public in the last 24 hours.

Laura Packard, 41, is in chemotherapy. Self-employed, single, and an Obamacare patient, Packard found out she had stage 4 Hodgkin's Lymphoma just months ago. Even at that stage it has a 90 percent cure rate, her oncologist tells her. That is, if Republicans in Congress don't take away her insurance. She writes at U.S. News & World Report:

The various versions of health care reform being discussed in Washington D.C. terrify me and my new cancer friends. (Cancer is the shittiest fraternity, with the best members; everyone that I have met over the past couple months has been unbelievably kind.)

Getting rid of lifetime and/or annual limits? That means many of us will die when we hit those caps and can no longer afford treatment. Getting rid of pre-existing condition protections? Many of us will die, because we won't be insurable anymore. Allowing insurers to remove essential health benefits (such as chemotherapy, or hospitalization, or many of the drugs we need to stay alive) means many of us will die, because our insurance won't cover our treatment anymore.

This is not an academic question for me, because I am undergoing chemotherapy right now. I may need radiation after, or if this fails, immunotherapy. Will I be able to get affordable insurance next year, or will I die?
Joel Silberman, 68, can fight his stage 2 pancreatic cancer because, thanks to Medicare and marriage equality, his spouse's Government Employee Health Association group plan provides secondary insurance that will allow him to fight his illness without wiping out their savings. He writes:
A Congressional Budget Office report released today reveals just how lucky I am to be covered by my husband's plan; 22 million more Americans could go uninsured should the Republican-backed American Health Care Act pass.

Many, many, people were responsible for equality that saved my life. And now we all must come together again and save the lives of many more from healthcare bill that will truly bankrupt or kill people.
But Joel can tell you that himself:

The unbelievable kindness Packard found is in short supply in an America possessed by fear. An America raised on bulletproof heroes in action films and John Wayne westerns (Wayne died of stomach cancer) is shaken to its bones by its own vulnerability. By the September 11 attacks. By the Great Recession. By shifting demographics and globalization. By a collapsing middle class and income inequality. By fear of the stranger, the foreigner, the Other. But mostly by fear of losing power, both personal and political.

In our fear, we have replaced "We the People" and e pluribus unum with travel bans and "I'm all right Jack keep your hands off of my stack."

Humans do a lot of cruel, senseless things when they are afraid. Like trampling each other to death in a mindless rush to escape danger. A conservative movement funded by billionaire ideologues and media magnates created a populist uprising it hoped would sustain Republicans' and their own power in this changing world. Republicans gerrymandered districts across the country and erected barriers to voting to lock in that power by locking out democracy. They promised the faithful, as did their party's self-absorbed leader, to undo all the works of the Kenyan Usurper. Chief among them is the Affordable Care Act, a flawed program, but one that saves lives and protects millions of others.

But these uprisings have a way of getting out of control. Now Republicans in the House and Senate fear the wrath of the very movement they birthed. In their fear, they are close to acceding to the demands of supporters to "Let them die." Them would be any sick American who is not Us. Speaking of cruel and senseless.

"Fear is the mind-killer," Frank Herbert wrote in his famous novel. Republicans in the United States House and Senate would do well to meditate on that as well as the red letters from the King James New Testament before doing any more that is cruel and senseless.