Email #106, Subject: “exacerbates the problem”?

Given the lack of support for the American Health Care Act, you and Congress will soon need to consider alternative approaches. A plan that provides universal health care coverage should be on the list. I recently read a compelling argument for it:

“With the cost of health care being so high, those uninsured have few options if they cannot independently pay.  Because hospitals are required to treat emergency conditions regardless of ability to pay, the uninsured often turn to emergency rooms for care.  However, this exacerbates the problem because these costs are passed onto all consumers in the form of higher health care prices.”

This may sound like an argument posed by Bernie Sanders or Hilary Clinton, but it was written by a Republican. In fact, it was written by a leading member of the current Congress: the chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

It was written by you.

Since you’ve been in Congress for a quarter century, you have probably made many statements that you have changed your mind about over the years. This one, however, you wrote in December. You sent it to me in a letter about why the Affordable Care Act needs to be replaced by a better bill. I pointed out that the Republican health care bill would insure fewer people than the ACA and so not address the very point that you raised.

When you sent me your next form letter about health care in February, it no longer included the above paragraph. Though your staff writers can erase inconvenient facts from your public statements, they cannot erase them from reality. As you argued so effectively, the ACA’s biggest flaw was its failure to insure all Americans. Until there is universal coverage, health care costs will continue to climb out of control for exactly the reason you identified. And yet the GOP’s American Health Care Act will insure far fewer than the ACA currently does.

So why are you supporting a bill that contradicts your own argument? Why are you supporting a bill that deepens the problems we are all facing?

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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