Fighting for our lives

Posted 1/25/17

In Donald Trump’s kingdom, if  you’re poor you are expendable. 

It seems appropriate timing to picture here the women of my family who participated in the Jan. 21 in the Women’s March …

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Fighting for our lives

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In Donald Trump’s kingdom, if  you’re poor you are expendable

It seems appropriate timing to picture here the women of my family who participated in the Jan. 21 in the Women’s March against Donald Trump, his character, his attitude, his words, his actions. At left is my granddaughter Caitlin Camfield, whose appearance over this blog is even more appropriate due to the fact that she is in medical school at the UW. Next is her grandmother, my wife Jean Camfield, who can still march like hell at 84 . . . then our daughter Janice, who bussed from Portland to Seattle to march with her mother and niece. At right are my granddaughter Hannah Camfield-Bronstein and her mother (my daughter) Pam Camfield of Corvallis, who marched in Portland. 

The GOP has had more than six years to figure out its preferred ObamaCare replacement policy. The reason is obvious — there is no more conservative replacement that can possibly provide comparable coverage, and even if there were, it would interfere with the GOP's goal of huge tax cuts for the rich. Philip Klein, a conservative health policy analyst, suggests the obvious escape hatch: Republicans should just admit that "we don't believe that it is the job of the federal government to guarantee that everybody has health insurance." 

I read that foregoing a while back and saved it, because it seems to sum things up concisely on the health care front.

I also recently ran across the headline “Killing Obamacare will literally kill people.”

Although a Hillary loyalist, I also respect the opinions and goals of Bernie Sanders. I believe his comment in a recent tweet: “As Republicans try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they should be reminded every day that 35,000 people will die yearly as a result.” This Week magazine agrees: “If the GOP repeals ObamaCare, Americans will die. Lots of them.

Who will these people be? They will be faceless individuals from the poor and middle class who are of no consequence  to Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, financially-comfortable tea-party dimwits infesting the halls of Congress. They will be people that most of us know down here at the country’s grass roots. 

No matter what manner of blithe generalities they throw about to placate the gullible, the GOP is pursuing a prime directive that will federally defund social programs such as Obamacare and Medicaid to offset tax cuts for the rich. These are the same people who tried to derail Obamacare in the first place by claiming that it would feature government “death panels” for the disposition of the elderly and infirm (Remember Sarah Palin in her prime?). 

Well, people, while that didn’t happen with the Affordable Care Act, I suspect that perhaps we’re now actually headed in that direction. The  “death panel” will be a GOP marching behind D. T. 

As This Week sees it: “Republicans are laying the groundwork to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature health care law, which has delivered health insurance to well over 20 million people. So let’s speak plainly. You simply cannot scrap this law without negatively affecting the health of far too many of these 20 million people. It is indisputable that killing ObamaCare will actually kill people.” 

Republicans claim that they’ll replace Obamacare with something terrific.  They won’t.  With them, it’s all about the bottom line, which traditionally is anti-social. The Congressional Budget Office the other day released an analysis of a 2015 ACA repeal plan that estimated 18 million people losing their health care and 32 million by 2026. 

Some other figures: a Harvard study (2009)  found nearly 45,000 people dead yearly from lack of insurance, and an increased risk of death among the uninsured of 40 percent. As the lead author of that study put it: “We doctors have many new ways to prevent deaths from hypertension, diabetes and heart disease—but only if patients can get into our offices and afford their medications.”

In addition to every one who will die without insurance, there will be dozens more enduring illness they can’t afford to treat or bankrupted by emergency care they cannot afford. 

Here I am, 88 in a few days. I’ve been fortunate to have had swift high-quality medical attention when it was called for along the way. I haven’t counted my pill bottles lately, but there are a lot of them, and I’ve been able to afford them for quite a long time—thanks in part to insurance. I’ve been on Medicare, with supplemental insurance, for 23 years. I’ve had experiences that could have been fatal. I’ve had some fine doctors here in P.T., in Sequim, and periodically in Seattle . . . also in the Army in years past. I’ve had the EMTs of our local fire district crew. I’ve had an alert, knowledgeable  and attentive wife. I call all of that pretty first-class medical care. A huge portion of our population is not so fortunate. I’d have been long dead in their circumstances. 

I’m a bit pragmatic now about my future, but I’m planning  to vote in the 2018 mid-term election and the 2020 presidential election. Health care will be crucial in getting me there. In the meantime, I want my taxes going to someone such as suffering children via Obamacare or Medicaid instead of to some fat cat spending his time at Donald Trump’s resort or one of his fancy golf courses. 

I also don’t think much of Tom Price as Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. He would gut our health care system, privatize Medicare, deny women access to contraception and family planning, etc. I expect to see all sorts of efforts to alter Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid during the next few years.  Including such things as block grants, which can be spun (“more discretion to the states”) to sound efficient but that actually would decrease funding for those in need. The majority in our Congress don’t really know what they’re doing. They’re Pavlovian tea party and other Republicans who just respond automatically to a tinkling bell that reminds them to oppose anything that seems the least bit liberal in nature.

READ THE INSIDE PAGES of a reliable daily paper such as The Seattle Times (e.g, A-4, Jan. 24) for  health-related issues. One of Trump’s first actions as President was to impose a hiring freeze across the government (except for national security).  His press secretary explained that there’s been “a lack of respect for taxpayer dollars in this town for a long time . . . a dramatic expansion of the federal work force in recent years.”

However, our fact-checking press points out that “federal employment has been mostly flat” over the past eight years. There were 2.78 million civilian federal employes, including the postal service, at the end of December 2008, Bureau of Labor Statistics show.  At the end of last year, the number stood at 2.8 million. Most of the rise in employment at federal civilian agencies over the period comes from a 101,000 increase at the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

“As a share of overall U. S. employment, the federal civilian work force has been shrinking in recent years and was 1.9% as of December.”

This is just one aspect of what slides by under the guise of such propagandistic buzz-words as “respect” and “security.”

So what we actually see is that during Obama’s eight years, the ONLY real increase in federal hiring was some 100,000 workers to help sort out the tangled mess that our Department of Veterans Affairs had become. I certainly think, as most of you must also, that this was a move in the right direction. But considering these actual facts, Trump seems to be equating spending on veterans’ health care as “a lack of respect for taxpayer dollars.” 

And added attempts to provide any form of decent security for those (and the families of those) who actually fought, died and were maimed in war keeping our country secure—will be halted forthwith. And the rest of Trump’s blather about the particular executive order is left as the same old bovine excretion . . . “alternative facts.” From someone who has done little beyond an occasional bit of lip-service hurriedly cast veterans’ way as he struts forward on stage.

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