#1246 – Dick Bernard: Life and Death

As I write this post, decision time was at hand in the U.S. House of Representatives to replace what was derisively called “Obamacare” (The Affordable Care Act of 2010). Mid-paragraph came a bulletin that the first move to replacement, the American Health Care Act, failed. The apparent objective had been to figuratively kill “Obamacare” on the 7th anniversary of its enactment, Mar 23, 2010.

A good commentary about the lack of action on March 23, can be viewed here. Visit the same source tomorrow for a digest of comments about what happened today. [Mar. 24, “A Fine Failure”, here. SNIP: “The process toward passing Obamacare began on March 5, 2009, when President Obama convened a “health summit” with various players in the health care industry. It finished 383 days later, on March 23, 2010, when he signed it into law.

Trumpcare began life on February 16, 2017, when Paul Ryan released an outline of what a Republican bill would look like. It was abandoned 36 days later, on March 24, 2017.” from Kevin Drum, here.]

Personally, I view this issue of Health care for all (or some) from these vantage points:
1) My wife and I are greatly privileged to have pensions, Medicare, supplemental and long term care insurance. I would guess we are similar to those folks in Congress who sit in judgement of people with less resources.

That’s where the “Life and Death” title to this post originates. The objective of the supposed replacement bill (my opinion) was to make national health insurance less accessible and affordable, thence to enable another round of huge tax cuts whose primary beneficiaries will be the already very wealthy.

2) The practical reality of the future of Health Care for all lies with the very people who gave a win to the Republicans in the last election; and make no mistake, this is strictly a Republican initiative – look at the votes. Salespeople are good at selling dreams. But as an old saying from my childhood goes “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. As a society we have to do better at informing ourselves about the consequences of our own actions (or inactions).

Unfortunately, often we get exactly what we deserve.

3) Personally, today, as stated above, we sit here in pretty good shape, if medical need happens.

Everybody should have the same privilege in this hugely wealthy country that is the United States (I would extend that to everyone on our planet, but that’s for another time.)

As this debate goes on I remember a distinct time in my own history:

In September of 1963 I was discharged from the Army, and by early October was teaching school in Minnesota. My recent bride was also teaching.

I don’t recall the exact sequence, but at one point the insurance agent for Blue Cross/Blue Shield came by, and I opted for the doctor plan (Blue Shield) and passed on Blue Cross – too expensive. In the Army, everything was covered.

At about the same time my very young wife had to quit teaching because her health had seriously deteriorated. The ultimate diagnosis was kidney problems, and she died two years later.

We had no hospital insurance, and even if we had, at that point in history, her ailment would have been a pre-existing condition, and disqualified her from coverage.

In the end, in October of 1965, I was saved from bankruptcy only by a County Welfare Board in North Dakota, which paid the greatest share of the bills (which amounted to about four times my then yearly salary.) Other hospitals and clinics basically dealt with us as charity cases. Even welfare was no certainty. In those two years we never technically became a resident of any County or State. We moved too frequently to reach the one-year threshold….

In our circumstances then (which I described recently as trodding through a blizzard), we had only survival on our minds. Making sophisticated decisions was not part of our process. And if we could have thought things through, we had no resources to carry our own share of the load.’

So, I can sit here at my computer, comfortable that something can happen, and most likely I can get treatment quickly and at low and affordable cost.

But I lived for two years in a terrifying world, totally dependent on a system I didn’t understand, and couldn’t afford to leverage to our benefit.

There are millions upon millions of people not so fortunate as I, and why should I not help them out by one of life’s basics: affordable health care? I stand for sharing.

4) There has always been something incongruous about the need to further pad the vast resources of the already wealthy.

Capitalism (unfortunately) is based on consumption, but people in middle and lower classes need resources to buy things and thus enrich the capitalists, particularly the wealthy.

The very wealthy, however, remind me a lot about a favorite childhood comic character, Scrooge McDuck, cavorting around in his money bin.

Salting away wealth in a bank, perhaps even offshore, is not a way to help a great society stay great. Greed ultimately kills us all.

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