Email #201: “I promised wrong”

“As one conservative let me say any person in the United States who requires medical attention and cannot provide it for himself should have it provided for him.” Ronald Reagan said that in 1961, and it’s as true now as it was then.

The Affordable Care Act attempted to achieve Reagan’s goal. The American Health Care Act that you voted for and the Better Care Reconciliation Act before the Senate now abandon it by eliminating health care for millions and instead cutting taxes on corporations and the highest income earners by $592 billion. USA Today, the most centrist major news source in our country, called the Senate’s BCRA a “tax cut masquerading as a health care plan.”

Centrist Republicans agree. Ohio Republican Governor Kasich said last week: “I have deep concerns with details in the U.S. Senate’s plan to fix America’s healthcare system and the resources needed to help our most vulnerable, including those who are dealing with drug addiction, mental illness and chronic health problems and have nowhere else to turn.”

Nevada Republican Governor Sandoval said: “While the current healthcare system needs improvement, it remains my priority to protect Nevada’s expansion population to ensure our most vulnerable, especially individuals with mental illness, the drug addicted, chronically ill, and our children, will always have access to healthcare.”

Massachusetts Republican Governor Baker said: “this version falls short and will result in significant funding losses for our state.”

Maryland Republican Governor Hogan said: “Congress should go back to the drawing board in an open, transparent and bipartisan fashion to craft a bill that works for all Americans.”

Centrist Republicans in the Senate agree. Republican Senator Heller said: “I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes insurance away from tens of millions of Americans.” Republican Senators Collins, Murkowski, Portman and Capito expressed similar criticisms.

If Ronald Reagan were alive, he would stand with them and the vast majority of Americans who oppose these “Trumpcare” bills.

In May, NBC and the Wall Street Journal found that only 23% of Americans thought the AHCA was a “good idea.” Last week that number dropped to 16%. But according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 74% have a “favorable opinion” of Medicaid, which the GOP bills would deeply cut. The same survey also found that 70% oppose the new bills’ waivers allowing insurers to charge people with pre-existing condition more, while 66% want to keep the ACA’s essential benefits protection.

The only good thing about the GOP bills is entirely partisan: they would fulfill the GOP promise to repeal “Obamacare.” But what good is keeping that promise if the replacement fails? Governor Kasich said it best: “I don’t think campaign promises that leave millions of people without the help they need are any excuse. Sometimes you make a promise, and you have to be big enough to say maybe I promised wrong.”

“Trumpcare” is wrong. Should the Senate, like the House, defy the wishes of the vast majority of Americans and pass their bill, reconciling the AHCA and BCRA into a single version will be Congress’s last chance to get health care right. If that happens, I ask that you please look back to President Reagan’s original vision and pass a plan that will help the Americans who need it most.

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Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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