Be Well

By Susan Estrich

June 24, 2017 4 min read

The message of the Republican health care bill is clear. You have nothing to worry about — as long as you can be sure that you will always be well. And you must be employed by a company large enough and successful enough to provide health insurance, just in case somebody in the family trips and falls, or needs their appendix out, or worse.

Otherwise, watch out.

I don't understand how Republicans stand there, with straight faces, and say that what this country needs in a health care plan is tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts in services for the poor and the elderly.

I don't understand how they can write a bill that would take access to health care away from 23 million Americans so that Warren Buffett can save almost a million dollars in taxes.

I don't know what they think is going to happen when people who decide not to buy health insurance get sick.

Shall we let them die? Is that the Republican plan?

Do we go back to the bad old days when poor people had no choice but to use the most expensive health care providers — hospital emergency rooms — as their primary physicians?

The underlying premise of Obamacare was a simple and true precept: We are all in this together. When it comes to illness, you never know. If we are all covered, then the costs of expensive illnesses are shared by all of us.

If all the young and healthy people opt out of insurance, which the Republicans are inviting them to do, then we face two ugly consequences. First, some of those young and healthy people will turn out to be wrong. They will get sick. Indeed, their chances of getting sick go up if they live in communities where others aren't getting health care: If the poor children playing in the park, or at the toy store, have TB, then there is a good chance your child will catch it. And if she does, and you don't have insurance, what then? Who takes care of those who turn out to be wrong?

And how do the rest of us afford insurance if the pool is limited to older and sicker people? Don't blame Obamacare for higher premiums. If the Republicans have their way, they will go through the roof.

Oh, yes, and what happens when grandpa or grandma is diagnosed with dementia, or another serious illness, that requires long-term care? Medicaid is not just for "others" — for poor pregnant mothers and their kids. Medicaid takes care of the elderly in nursing homes. Is the answer that they should die faster so that will cost less? Whose parents and grandparents are we talking about?

Of course, the Republicans say that this is all for the states to deal with. That's called phony federalism, as phony as the old states rights pols who claimed they weren't against civil rights, just against the federal government mandating it. Right. As if the states are sitting on piles of cash to take care of the poor, the young and the aged.

The late Senator and Vice President Hubert Humphrey used to say that the test of a society is not how it treats those with money and power, but those who have neither; how we treat the poor, the young, the aged and the ill.

The Republican answer is loud and clear. From Donald Trump, a charter member of the lucky sperm club, on down, they have chosen sides. Let the rich get richer. As for everybody else, let them eat cake.

How selfish can you be?

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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