Needed More Than Ever

After reading the title of today’s article the natural question to have is: What is needed more than ever? I’ll answer that in the last paragraph if you haven’t figured it out by then. Let’s explore.

It is looking inevitable that Mitch McConnell will be able to ram Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court through before the end of the current Senate session. Basically the Republican Senate caucus has pledged blind loyalty to Trump. To me the biggest questions are what delay tactic(s) the Democrats will use and whether the confirmation will take place before the election or early in the lame duck session. The latter question is one McConnell will answer based on his reading of the political tea leaves.

One of the big effects of this action is the damage it will do to health care in America. Currently we are in the midst of a pandemic which promises to get much worse over the next few months. We are confronted with an airborne disease for which we have neither a proven treatment nor a vaccine. Forget Trump’s rhetoric to the contrary; the virus is winning.

Since it is airborne and we literally all breathe the same air we should expand not contract access to health care. COVID-19 does not check immigration status, employment or wealth. Early statistics tell us that Blacks and Hispanics are harder hit than the population as a whole. Why do you think this is? It does not appear to be anything ethically inherent. It is more a function of economics and access to health care.

In America since World War II most resident’s health insurance is tied to their employment or that of a nuclear family member. When you simultaneously lose your job you lose your health care. The bridge of COBRA exists for a short time where an individual can buy into their former employer’s health care plan at a premium of slightly more than 100% of the employer’s cost. Let’s look at that for a moment. You just lost your paycheck and you are being asked to take on a large bill. How does the math work on that one? Today we are at unemployment that exceeds the Great Recession. In summation this “solution” is an unaffordable one of insufficient duration.

The retired population’s health care is tied to Medicare. That is a program that despite his rhetoric to the contrary Trump has attacked in every one of his budgets. How long will it be until he succeeds? Who is going to stop him? It certainly won’t be the Republicans sitting in Congress or on the Supreme Court.

The poor in America get their health care primarily via Medicaid. I could write volumes on this but let’s just leave it at the program is under constant attack by the Republicans. At the rate they are stacking the courts it is only a matter of time before they gut it beyond recognition or viable function.

Now let’s look at the working poor and lower wage working class in non-benefit jobs. Obamacare made health insurance and its inherent link to health care access affordable. The Republicans attacked it in the Supreme Court where a 5-4 decision with Chief Justice John Roberts changing his vote saved it for the moment in 2012. Then they tried to legislate it out of existence with the late John McCain casting the most famous thumbs down vote in Senate history to give it another reprieve. Getting lost in the shuffle is the fact that the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in another case challenging Obamacare this November. (I would expect a decision to be announced at the end of the upcoming session.) If Trump has his nominee seated that will give the Republicans five votes without Roberts. You do the math from there. Forget that the case’s legal argument borders on laughable and that standing is very questionable do you think any of that matters to Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and the Trump Trio?

Now let’s look at Americans as a whole. If Obamacare goes so do the benefits that Americans have come to enjoy like protection from rejection or premium hikes over pre-existing conditions and the ability to keep your children on your policy until age 26. In many cases being a woman is considered a pre-existing condition. Having contracted COVID-19 will certainly be one. As of this writing that affects about 7 million Americans and that number is set to skyrocket. That decision’s repercussion will be felt by almost every American. Odds are that you and/or someone in your nuclear, let alone extended, family have a per-existing condition.

Trump’s mismanagement of the pandemic has put the American economy in the toilet with high unemployment and business closings. (The stock market is not the economy!) How many college graduates are getting good, secure jobs with benefits right out of school? Oh, and what about all those who for a variety of reasons terminate their education short of a four year degree?

Now more than ever we need a warning label on ballots that reads, WARNING: Voting for a Republican may be hazardous to your health.

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