A Response to the ACHA Vote

This was going to be an inspiring, rah-rah type of blog post. In the wake of today's vote by the House to advance their health care bill, my initial purpose was to rally the troops, so to speak. I was going to encourage everyone reading to continue calling, writing, tweeting, and marching to protect the health insurance of millions of our fellow Americans. I was going to talk about how we have to continue showing up at town halls, shaming anyone who would dare vote for this atrocity of a bill. I was going to end with an uplifting message channeling John Paul Jones, crying that "we have not yet begun to fight!"

I was going to do all of that. But honestly, I'm just too fucking pissed off for cheerleading and glass-half-full optimism.

Because let's speak frankly here. The Republican "health care" bill will result in the suffering and even deaths of our fellow human beings. People we know and love. I've spent the day thinking about the people in my life with "preexisting conditions." And there are many. People I care deeply about are dealing with everything from cancer to liver disease to heart disease to diabetes. The list goes on and on, and I'm sure everyone reading this can easily think of people in your lives who are in similar situations.

Think about those people, and realize that this bill has the potential to ruin each and every one of them, financially and physically.

It's especially brutal for women and the poor. Under this bill, insurers can define rape, domestic violence, cesarean sections, and pregnancy as "preexisting conditions." So ladies, expect to be punished for daring to have a vagina. Meanwhile, the poor and struggling among us stand to lose the subsidies that allow them to purchase healthcare that they desperately need. It's heartless.

And don't think the bill will just screw over folks who get their healthcare through the ACA exchanges. Everyone, even those covered by employer plans, will be hurt by this. The law would let states define "essential health benefits," a major provision of the ACA that required all insurers to cover many of the highest-priority needs, including prescription drugs, hospitalizations, and mental health care. Sure, it may lower premiums to do so, but will that really matter when you get a six-figure bill for that unexpected hospital stay or see that monthly prescription cost skyrocket? The ACA did a lot to ensure that one major health emergency wouldn't bankrupt a family. The Republicans and Trump don't think that's important enough to save, especially when there are so many tax cuts to give out.

Oh, and they also used the bill to make massive cuts to special education. Because why the fuck not?

And that's another thing that has me fuming. For the party that claims the "moral majority" and proudly boasts about being "pro-life," they clearly don't give half a shit about the biblical order to "love thy neighbor."

George Carlin put it best:

[The conservatives] will do anything for the unborn. But once you're born, you're on your own. Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don't want to know about you. They don't want to hear from you. No nothing. No neonatal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you're pre-born, you're fine; if you're preschool, you're fucked.

While we're on the topic of hypocrisy, let's take a moment to recognize the reigning champion of that particular trait, Paul Ryan. Ryan, who has apparently been having wet dreams about cutting Medicaid since college (because that's totally normal and not at all an early warning sign of a sociopath), is at least consistent in terms of his goals, regardless of how heartless they may be. But this is the same man who spewed the following quotes during the process of passing the ACA:

  • "Will Speaker Pelosi wait for the 'final number' from the CBO?" - 3/2010
  • "I don't think we should pass bills that we haven't read [and] that we don't know what they cost." 7/2009
  • "We shouldn't rush this thing through just to rush it through for some artificial deadline. Let's get this thing done right." - 7/2009

And he was saying this about the ACA, a bill which was scored by the CBO before voting, was posted online for the public to read prior to the vote, and which was the subject of a multitude of open hearings. The ACA spent 15 months in Congress being reviewed, negotiated, and worked over. The ACHA has existed for less than two months, during which time it has been hidden from public, negotiated in back rooms, and now passed without a CBO score or a public sharing of the document.

This bill will determine the fate of 1/6th of the American economy, and we don't know how much it will cost or what impact it will have. It's pure lunacy.

Think about this for a second. We are supposedly the "greatest country in the world." And yet, as of 2015, there were still 28.5 million Americans without any health insurance. Another 31 million were underinsured. That means about 20% of the population of the "greatest nation on earth" is spending every day with a gun to their heads. They are one accident, one illness, one bad diagnosis away from making the choice between their own health and their family's financial stability.

That, my friends, is a fucking disgrace.

And that's all with the ACA! Even with that law, which for all its flaws still provided at least some coverage to approximately 20 million previously uninsured Americans, we are in this shameful position. The next step should be stabilizing the current system while continuing to progress towards a final goal of universal healthcare. Instead, Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, and their minions in Congress want to undo even the incomplete progress that has been made under the ACA. They want to take us back to a time when having a pre-existing condition meant being at the whim of the insurance companies. A time when the poor and working class didn't even have the subsidies provided by the ACA to help them purchase coverage. A time when the only people who didn't have to worry about paying for a medical emergency were the ones who could afford to spend a weekend at Mar-a-fucking-Lago.

All because Donald Trump needs a "win" and Paul Ryan gets some perverse pleasure out of massive tax cuts.

So yeah, I'm scared. I'm sad. I'm ashamed. But most of all, I'm furiously pissed off. And I'm ready to do anything I can to fight this bill in the Senate and ensure that every single soulless hypocrite who votes for it pays the price for the remainder of their political career.

I hope you feel the same way, because we have not yet begun to fight.