The intelligent folks on the left — no, we did not simply vanish after Nov. 8 — know they cannot do a thing to prevent the congressional Republicans from having their way with the Affordable Care Act. Let us hope, then, that the slavering hyenas succeed in doing their absolute worst.
Obamacare, while it’s considerably better than what we had, is still a mish-mash of bad compromises and worse constructs that leaves health care in the United States far behind other countries in terms of cost, efficiency and reach. Dr. Kidglove gave away the farm at the outset when he took single-payer off the table before anyone even sat down to talk. Then he sold out to the big pharmaceutical companies and the insurance industry, giving up the very controls on these greedy profiteers that were needed to establish a cost-effective system. He did this to buy enough votes to get something — anything — passed in a Congress that is short on ethics and high on hot air.
Now that they control every aspect of government, the Republicans plan to utterly destroy the ACA in four steps: (1) Take the filibuster weapon out of the hands of Senate Democrats. (2) Use a process called reconciliation to speed passage of a bill that gits every worthwhile provision of the existing law. (3) Destroy the shreds that remain of Obamacare through executive action by the man who won the electoral college but not the election. (4) Find and pass a replacement form of health care.
With the most important step left till last, the inevitable result will be chaos and disaster for millions of Americans. Elderly and chronically ill Americans in rural states who voted in the certainty that the “good businessman” would never let them go without health care will awaken one day — quite soon, because of the fast-track reconciliation process — to find that instead of sort-of OK health care, they have none at all.
Meanwhile, as even a big profiteering health insurance company has discovered through its research, none of the possible replacements the Republicans have posited will work. Either they will increase the deficit, or fail to cover as many people as Obamacare covers, or otherwise wreak havoc on the people.
As more and more millions of Americans realize that they can no longer afford to be sick or need surgery, the political tide that gave the Republicans control of government will turn against them. Lies about health care have become a powerful force in American politics. The new truth will be far more powerful — powerful enough to give the Democrats control of congress in the me mid-term elections.
Progressives in both houses should be working now to fashion the strongest possible single-payer health care bill, one that draws on the best of the Canadian system and the best of Medicare (which the Republicans intend to squeeze dry by cutting benefits, thus antagonizing a huge cohort that otherwise would have been unaffected by the assault on the ACA). Like the hideously mis-named USA Patriot Act, the single-payer bill should be honed, polished and printed, ready to rush into the hands of a new Congress as soon as it is sworn in in December of 2018. A catchy title would help, before the Republicans can come up with a derisive one.
The new bill should be clear and simple, unlike the easily-misinterpreted language of the ACA, and loaded with hot-button phrases that will appeal to the simple folk of Appalachia, the rust belt and other pockets of the deceived who voted against their own interests in the presidential election. It should define “working America’s right to decent health care,” quick and easy medicine for sick babies when they need it with no red tape, government guarantees on the best prices for new and needed medication.
The congressional Democrats, and the party at large, will have to come to its senses and return to its roots as the party of working America in order to take advantage of this opportunity. Is that even possible? Perhaps Will Rogers gave us the answer many years ago,
“I am a member of no organized political party,” he said. “I’m a Democrat.”