There’s bitter irony in watching GOP finally get around to its own version
The irony of watching the Republicans’ attempt to craft new health care legislation is both satisfying and terrifying. The party that, since the days of Richard Nixon, has not had the slightest interest in reforming our nation’s inadequate health insurance system, except to try to eliminate any government spending that might help citizens pay for it, is now engaged in crafting a bill that will fix the problems caused by the Affordable Care Act. These “problems” stem from the fact that useful health insurance is expensive and that assuring all citizens can have it will require significant government funds — something the GOP wants to avoid more than anything.
The ACA, for all its flaws, has set an expectation that all citizens are deserving of meaningful health insurance. For this alone we should be forever grateful to President Obama. The Republicans, of course, wish this were not the case, and watching them try to thread the needle of appearing to provide health insurance while cutting taxes used to support it would be humorous if so many people’s future health didn’t depend on it.
Single payer is the only way forward
As Obamacare struggled to improve access for all to a reasonable array of health care services, and now, as Republicans try to revise health care access down again for fiscal and political reasons, it has become increasingly obvious to many of the country’s health care providers that a national single payer system is the eventual and inevitable outcome.
It is clear that we are incapable of legislating a system that is financially attractive, or even manageable, for all our state governors and legislatures; insurers; partisan politicians; capitalists beholden to themselves and their investors; high-risk individuals in need of preventive and life-sustaining interventions; women needing birth control and birthing services; elderly needing nursing home care; poor people without prescription, primary, chronic, or emergency care; addicted and incarcerated individuals; and last, but not least, children.
At some point, soon, we must acknowledge the inevitability that either the United States is either going to have the worst, most inequitable, fragmented, and mean-spirited health care system in the civilized world or our nation will have to swallow the bitter 21st-century, high-tech pill and fund universal national health care like that of many fellow developed countries.
The writer is a pediatrician and a professor of pediatrics and public health.
Medicaid cuts would bring painful squeeze in nursing home care
My father spent the last four years of his life in a nursing home. The monthly bills started at $6,250 and increased to $7,500 as his dementia worsened.
My father had enough savings to pay the nursing home bills. Most Americans do not. Half of American families have no retirement savings. Few manage to save $60,000, which is less than 10 months in many nursing homes. If the person has a home, it would have to be sold to pay the bills. Then, if the person is married, the spouse would need to find somewhere to live with little savings.
This is where Medicaid comes in. After a family’s savings run out, Medicaid pays the nursing home bill. At least it does now. If the GOP’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act goes through, there will be big cuts to the Medicaid program. States will not pick up the tab. People will get stuck on long waiting lists, then dumped into care homes with as little medical help as the state will allow.
If you have employer-provided health insurance and think repealing the Affordable Care Act will not affect you, think again. You will get old. If you are lucky, so will your parents.