What Has Become of American Healthcare?
THE DUTY OF THE PRESS is to keep the people informed, even when the things they might learn lean towards the morbidly terrible and truly bizarre. The Republican healthcare plan is both.
You’d never know this from the way it was being reported by the larger outlets, the kind that depend upon a cozy relationship with politicians to get close to a story. The terms being discussed were enough to make one’s hair turn white, yet I never saw MSNBC or CNN get up on television and call it what it was: a rapacious, soulless attack on the proletariat, one that should be answered not with calls or letters to Senators but bullets, bombs, and fire. It was yet another black mark against the Capitalist press, and a lash of shame against every soul that bore a press pass.
Fresh from a three-day bender, it was revealed to me in a series of mystical visions by the Gods of Journalism that this humble Reporter of Fortune and soon-to-be-author had to correct this grave and mortal error. Filled with sacred duty and copious amounts of Sailor Jerry’s I have combed through the finer details of the bill and discovered they match the visions I received of what lies ahead. Brace yourself dear reader, and stare in terror at the future…
Thee First Vision
The bill encourages people to maintain coverage by prohibiting insurance companies from cutting them off or charging more for pre-existing conditions as long as their insurance doesn’t lapse. If coverage is interrupted for more than 63 days, however, insurers can charge people a 30 percent penalty over their premium for one year…
You will sit around the kitchen table, tears dripping from your eyes, as you explain to those you love it’ll be instant ramen for dinner next month because if you miss a bill or payment on your premium you will all be cast into poverty and uninsured status. Many a night will be spent awake and praying to shadowy gods over sacrificed chickens that you remain employed, dark oaths made to bloodthirsty and intangible creatures that no lapse occur in your coverage lest you never be able to afford it again.
Thee Second Vision
…some people will see their costs go up while others would pay less, depending on your age and where you live…A 60-year-old, however, would see costs rise almost everywhere, with increases of almost $20,000 a year in Nebraska. Both Kaiser and the Congressional Budget Office found that, on average, older people with lower incomes would be worse off under the Republican plan than under the Affordable Care Act.
Older citizens on fixed incomes will either need to work just to afford medical care or quietly die. Check out lines in grocery stores will swell with physical confrontations as Vietnam veterans battle it out with struggling single-parents for low paying jobs just to eat. Suicide rates will climb as the bleak void of an ever-present death looms over the cash-strapped elderly. Cults and rumors of cults devoted to Goddesses of Death will sprout up in active 55+ communities, the name Santa Muerte both a comforting benediction and blood-soaked battle cry for the legions of old people turning to kidnapping and murder just to afford medication.
Thee Third Vision
…The bill eliminates nearly all the taxes that were included in the Affordable Care Act to pay for the subsidies that help people buy insurance. Those cuts, which add up to about $592 billion, include a tax on incomes over $200,000.
Gigantic flags, bathed in gold, will fly at the gates of The Golden Triangle, Potomac Manors, and all the other rich enclaves no doubt surrounded by armed guards. They shall read, in big bold letters visible for nearly 10 miles the following words: “Fuck the poor, we’re keeping our goddamn money.”
Thee Fourth Vision
The Affordable Care Act allows states to expand eligibility for Medicaid to single, nondisabled adults with incomes slightly above the poverty line…The Republican plan would gradually roll back that expansion starting in 2019 by cutting the federal reimbursement to states for anyone who leaves the Medicaid rolls. People often cycle in and out of the program as their income fluctuates, so the result would likely be an ever-dwindling number of people covered….
Combined with the “block grants” written into the bill Medicaid will slowly be phased out altogether. States will receive a set amount of money every year for Medicaid and it’ll be handed out on a first-come-first-serve basis, or given out as macabre victory prizes for death-matches between the poor and the sick. Gigantic stadiums will sprout up in every town where those not yet crippled by tumors will fight with teeth and toenails to get the kind of care that only costs $25 in France. Even if additional people became eligible for Medicaid, or if the population grows, under the Republican plan the amount of money for the program will stay the same; if you tap into Medicaid and suddenly become ineligible you may be barred for good. In effect the Republicans create a “poor person population cap,” allowing only a certain number of proles to receive health benefits and survive every year.
Thee Fifth Vision
States could apply for waivers that would allow insurance companies in their states to do three things: 1. Charge older people more than five times what they charge young people for the same policy; 2. Eliminate required coverage, called essential health benefits, including maternity care, mental health and prescription drugs, that were required under the Affordable Care Act; and 3. Charge more for or deny coverage to people who have pre-existing health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes or arthritis.
If the other visions were not terrifying enough there will be some states, no doubt ruled by the most callous of oligarchs, who will desire the poor be even worse off. It will be the will of some twisted Abrahamic god, as told by the prosperity churches, that the poor be born poor due to some previous sin; to achieve penance they must work themselves to the bone. Three or perhaps four jobs will become the norm and free-time among the proles will became a faint memory. Children will be out of the question, as both impossible to afford and too much time to make, the weary dregs of these capitalist outposts often dying single and alone at the tender age of 55 right on the salesfloor where they worked.
Violence will explode, as quick and easy money in organ-smuggling, prostitution, and armed robbery becomes the only way to afford healthcare. Middle managers and landscaper foreman will constantly be anxiety ridden, knowing those they command eagerly watch for any hint of weakness or medical issue. “You got youse a strong heart,” they will hear the sixty-year old working at McDonald’s say, “real nice. Fetch a damn good price ya’knuw.” Shootouts between rival gangs over back alleys to perform abortions in will become commonplace, as the burnt-out and now de-funded remains of Planned Parenthood house nothing but ticks and an ever-expanding homeless population who couldn’t afford their premiums. A crew from Submedia, as well as Justin King from The Fifth Column, will fly down to Florida to cover the madness and be cannibalized on live television.
Are your palms sweaty? Have you developed ulcers reading this article? Could all these horrible things truly come to pass? Some of it already has comrades, all while Obamacare was in full swing.
Thee Dark Truth
I know a 48-year-old woman on Medicaid who has dealt with kidney stones for 3 years, thrown into poverty after escaping an abusive husband. She has had a lesion in her stomach for over a year, one that could explode and kill her at any moment. Her Medicaid always ends up canceling appointments and calling for new scans that have already been done, forcing a woman that can barely walk to spend all day on a bus. “Is this all I get?” she murmurs, doubled over in physical and emotional pain. “48 years? After everything I’ve been through?”
Just recently she was told she may have to see an oncologist. She has panic attacks at night now, wondering what could have been done in the years her “insurance” refused to do anything. She’s begun burning herself with cigarettes while she sobs in the darkness.
I can look at my own life, my wife and I desiring children and simultaneously terrified we’ll have no way of paying for them. Each year makes us wonder what we’re missing, how healthy we’ll be. We can’t afford insurance and Obamacare did nothing to change that. What if I get sick or injured? How will we eat? We can barely afford a car to go get groceries, how will we afford school supplies? What if, what if, what if….
This is the everyday life of millions who were never saved by the Affordable Care Act, lives lived on the edge and only a few paychecks away from destitution. Where are the protests for them?
I could say the country was up in arms about healthcare, but to do so might insult the International Revolutionary People’s Guerrilla Forces(IRPGF) currently fighting in Rojava. The Republicans have cooked up a plan so terrible, so jaw-droppingly stupid, that it makes Obamacare look Socialist in comparison. Therein lies the danger: where once there was a cry for universal coverage the shouts have muddied into a shallow, whimpering whisper for bare-minimum insurance rackets. Even if Obamacare remains the law of the land there will still be millions uninsured, still many families that will face abject poverty and no medical care in a country where $1.5 trillion dollars can be spent on a plane that doesn’t fly. Under any plan, Republican or Democrat, an MRI scan will still cost Americans $1,119 compared to the $811 in New Zealand, $215 in Australia, or $181 it does in Spain “completely unwarranted for any clinical reason.”
This should be unacceptable, and at one time it was. Now with the prospect of Trumpcare looming on the horizon radicals across the continent have decided it’ll do.
What happened to American healthcare, or rather, what happened to the fight for it? Our masters said this was as good as it gets and we dutifully sat down. We were fine as along as we got help and some of the people got insurance, we were totally okay with people dying of preventable diseases provided it wasn’t too many. Today they snap their fingers and we bark to defend what little kibble gets dropped in the bowl. We have given up the greatest of prizes, universal coverage, in the hope we can keep the scraps that have been thrown at us, rolling over and rubbing our noses on the shoes of politicians to save us.
And we wonder why they treat us like dogs?
Dr. Bones is a conjurer, card-reader and egoist-communist who believes “true individuality can only flourish when the means of existence are shared by all.” A Florida native and Hoodoo practitioner, he summons pure vitriol, straight narrative, and sorcerous wisdom into a potent blend of poltergasmic politics and gonzo journalism. He lives with his loving wife, a herd of cats, and a house full of spirits.