With the Congressional Budget Office’s release of its analysis of the President’s plan to replace and re-face the Affordable Care Act, the American public arrives at a moment of truth, and a moment of decision.
In light of the President’s promise that the horror of “Obamacare” would give way to a better, more affordable, and more comprehensive health plan for all Americans, the CBO’s analysis that 14 million Americans would drop out of health insurance by 2018 (as would another 10 million by 2026) highlights the biggest of “Big Lies” to date.
Yes, it is true that some of those dropping from care would do so out of choice. However it is also true — and more important to note — that a much larger number will lose access to health insurance — and as a result, health care services — because they will no longer be able to afford it.
The Democratic Staff Memo from the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce (March 2017) estimates that our 49th Congressional District will see the rate of uninsured increase from its current 8 percent to 15 percent; and 370,800 District residents will drop out of care, as will another 43,000 persons now covered through Medicaid Expansion.
I have worked in community health care for over 20 years, and I know that people will suffer needlessly and die as a result of the changes proposed.
My fellow Americans, you need to ask, “Why?”
You need to ask why you should be pleased that your parents and grandparents may lose access to health care. Why is it of benefit to the nation that its neediest people will once again fill emergency rooms instead of receiving timely preventive care? What is patriotic about forcing families to choose between child dental care and next week’s meals?
Still not convinced? You might be aware that the GOP is preparing to roll back the financial reforms of the Dodd-Frank Amendment, and kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Washington Post, Feb. 9, 2017). You probably remember that a handful of Wall Street investment firms and mortgage companies were largely responsible for the Great Recession and millions of Americans’ loss of their homes and/or their retirement funds. Perhaps you were among them.
Yet now, the President and the GOP are going to “re-empower” these same unindicted criminals to write the rules of the game, and commit the next great crime. And who will pay the greatest price for the next crime? Many of the same people who voted Donald Trump into power and gave the GOP majorities in both houses of Congress. These are the same people who are waking up to the realization that their President/savior and his party are attempting to slash their healthcare safety net with a knife the size of the Rockies, while “re-empowering” banks, and credit card companies, and financial management firms, and other corporate behemoths.
These are not alternative facts. These are just the realities of history and the pledges of the moment. The Democratic party is no paragon of virtue. But aside from the current President’s erratic and shoddy behavior, the Republican party and the forces behind it are seizing the moment, as I write, to cripple or destroy the only force in America sufficiently powerful to conserve our natural resources, rebuild our infrastructure, moderate the will of the greediest and most powerful among us, and work toward greater equity and dignity for all Americans — our government.
It is up to us, irrespective of party or ideology, to demand a government that works for the majority, which is neither rich nor powerful, and whose livelihood and dignity is in danger.
I asked Rep. Darrell Issa, in a public letter published in this newspaper last year, what really matters to him in the context of the real needs of our citizens. I never received a response. I’m inclined to believe that that silence speaks for itself. We will get more responsible and responsive government — government for the people — only if we work for it.
Joshua Lazerson is an Encinitas resident.