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This health care circus of delusions must face facts



For the Monitor
Sunday, May 14, 2017

I have been to a fair number of rallies lately in support of sane health care policy. A lot of slogans are bandied about, but I have not heard the following chant go like this.

People: “We don’t want health care!”

Leader: “When don’t we want it?”

People: “We don’t want health care NOW!”

Evidently, however, House Republicans have heard this message from their constituents loud and clear, or so they say. By repealing most of the positive aspects of Obamacare and proposing their own patchwork of fixes, they are acceding to special interests while putting millions at risk.

Few of the House reps have actually read or understand the ramifications of the bill, and certainly the president seemed to conceal from the public any faint semblance of comprehension. Mr. Trump has a merry-go-round of delusions circling in his head, which occasionally stops to pick up an extra delusion or two.

House Republicans, eager to jump on his carousel of crazy, have proposed the end of Medicaid expansion, an end to defined benefits and broad definition of pre-existing conditions, with the end result of pricing many people out of the insurance market. Further, they would toss chronically ill patients into underfunded high risk pools without lifeguards on duty.

The most wealthy among us can treat themselves to Dom Perignon by the case, courtesy of the $700 to $800 billion in tax cuts which they will accrue while the less fortunate struggle for survival in the deep end of the risk pools. Not that he pays taxes anyhow, but Trump gets a Mar-a- Lago-sized break, even as he expends half of his vocabulary on shallow, callous expressions of praise for the bill.

Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho summed up the Republican position at a Town Meeting when he blurted that “nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.” Nice one.

And so it falls upon the Senate to add this bill to the compost pile, and to work on comprehensive, affordable health care for all. Sen. Bernie Sanders will shortly save them a lot of trouble by introducing a Senate bill promoting Expanded Medicare for All. The House version, HR 676, now has 108 co-sponsors, though Reps. Kuster and Shea-Porter have yet to sign on.

We must encourage our full congressional delegation to come off the sidelines to speak for us, to be part of a thoughtful solution to the health care crisis, and not part of the circus in Washington.

(Robert S. Kiefner, MD, is a retired family physician in Concord and a member of Granite State Physicians for a National Health Plan.)