Email #151: “heal the damage”?

You stated on your Facebook page after the House passed the American Health Care Act on Thursday:

“It has been a long fight to reverse Obamacare and begin to heal the damage this law has done to millions of families in our country.”

As you know, the Affordable Care Act was crafted by Republicans in the 1990s and adopted by Democrats in the 2010s to expand health care for more Americans. Republicans such as yourself then renamed it “Obamacare” and have spent the last seven years vilifying it.

Even at a moment of victory you resort to distorting rhetoric. You cannot sincerely believe that the ACA caused “damage” to “millions.” Its Medicaid expansion brought health care to millions who previously had nothing. If the AHCA becomes law it will repeal that expansion and millions will lose their health care. Yet you use the medical word “heal” to describe a change that would deprive Americans of medical care. In all your attempts to demonize the ACA, this may be your most extreme example of Orwellian doublespeak.

You also stated on Thursday that:

“The AHCA is by no means perfect, but it is a momentous first step towards fixing the American health care system so that it is more responsive to patients’ needs rather than a one-size-fits-all government program.”

According to the report issued by your own Congressional Budget office in March, if the AHCA replaces the ACA, the number of uninsured will rise by 24 million in the next decade, 14 million will lose their Medicaid, and the poor and elderly will face far higher premiums. Calling that “by no means perfect” would be a comical understatement if the lives of actual Americans were not so horribly affected.

The AHCA would also mandate two kinds of patients: high risk and low risk. Because low risk patients are young and healthy, they have few medical needs and so their premiums would be low. Because high risk patients are old and sick with so-called pre-existing conditions, they have many medical needs and so their premiums would be high.

The ACA’s “one-size-fits-all government approach” instead puts all patients into one pool, charging everyone the same. The AHCA then is “responsive” only to low-need patients, including those who decide not to get any insurance and end up in emergency rooms, passing along their medical bills to taxpayers. The system would be “responsive” to high-need patients by charging them more.

Is this really the best promotional pitch you have to celebrate the passage of the AHCA in the House by a margin of two votes? Little wonder twenty Republicans voted against it. The GOP’s majority in the Senate is even thinner. Based on your intentionally misleading statements on Thursday, do you actually believe the bill will pass there?

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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