Which Direction for America? What’s at Stake in the Health Care Debate?

Marc Stier |

One of the fascinating / distressing things about the health care debate on Facebook is that it’s bringing the truth out in a way that the debate in the Senate is not.

If you have any doubt that this is a inflection point in our history, in which the forces of tolerance, compassion and justice are arrayed against the forces of bigotry, greed, and injustice, look at what the opponents of the ACA are saying.

I’ve seen folks blaming “fat, poor people who eat badly” for their own illnesses because, as they would say, most illness is self-inflicted. of course, there are no rich people who ever get fat or eat badly, yet they get health care.

I’ve seen folks say they shouldn’t pay for the health care of those who can’t afford it, even though they don’t do so under the ACA, which only taxes families with incomes over $250,000 and even though the taxes of people with low incomes pay for their health care via the huge employer tax deduction and government funding for medical research, hospital construction and doctor training.

I’ve seen folks who have gone to public colleges say people should only get what they can pay for themselves, including health care.

I’ve seen folks who would never be without health insurance themselves argue that having health insurance really doesn’t make a difference in the well-being or longevity of people.

And, of course, none of these folks who say this mention that the Republican health care bill is totally shaped by the goal of giving a $600 billion tax cut to the very richest Americans and huge corporations. Most of these folks won’t benefit from those tax cuts. Some believe the nonsense about the taxing of rich people undermining the economy even though the economy has been growing since the ACA was passed. Or, even worse, some just don’t seem to care. Simply taking help away from people who need it, is, for too many of them, an end in itself.

The ugliness of spirit of some of the people who want the ACA repealed is equal to the ugliness of the bill itself. It is legislation that will lead to tens of thousands of premature deaths each year, that will cause hundreds of thousands of people to suffer, that will cost 40,000 jobs in Pennsylvania alone, and will send the budgets of every state in the country into deep debt, making those states choose between health care and things like education.

Enacting this horrible legislation might be the most miserable, awful thing the government of the United States has done to its own population since the fugitive slave law.

This is the moment when we decide who we are as a people. It’s when we determine whether “we are all in this together” or “I’m all right, Jack” defines what this country stands for.

Please, do you part, and call your Senator. Or even better, contact robin@pahealthaccess.org and do an hour or two of phone-banking to people in states who have Republican Senators who, unlike our own, have some shred of decency and might vote against it.