Is health bill about money or health?

Published 2:54 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2017

By Chuck Witt

The recent furor in the U.S. Senate over the health care bill (it may all be over by the time you read this) provides a perfect example of how government should not be run.

Remember the draft that was revealed June 22 had been crafted in secret by a group of 13 Republican senators — not a single Democratic senator allowed to participate — behind closed doors and kept concealed to such an extent that not even other members of the same party were allowed to see the product until it was unveiled to the general public.

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The proposed bill was 142 pages long (try reading it and see how much of it you can understand) and the Senate majority leader wanted it to be voted upon in the full Senate within a week, not because its passage was crucial to its implementation, but so that it wouldn’t be hanging over the senators’ heads when they returned from their July 4 break and so there wouldn’t be sufficient time for anyone to really find out what was in it.

Here’s a suggestion, senators: If it’s so important, forego your break and stay in Washington and work it out!

Shortly, it became apparent that the vote was not going to happen on the accelerated schedule, not because the Democrats were united in opposition — which wouldn’t have stopped its adoption anyway — but because a number of Republican Senators were jumping ship which threatened to defeat the bill.

So Mr. McConnell, sly dog that he is, decided to postpone the vote. Why? So that he and his cohort who were all in favor of the bill would have additional time to strong arm those recalcitrant Republican senators and bring them back into the fold, probably with the promise of huge donations flowing into their coffers from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

On the June 25 edition of ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” Matthew Dowd, formerly chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign and now an ABC political analyst, said, “This bill is a fundamental choice for America, whether to take $1 trillion and help the poor and vulnerable and working class in their healthcare, subsidized by the federal government or take $1 trillion and return it, basically, to the wealthy in the country.”

No one has stated the case more simply … or correctly.

The Republican healthcare bill is a mass re-distribution of wealth, from those least able to afford it to those who don’t need it.

It has been estimated that the top 0.1 percent of the wealthy in this country will receive a tax break of some $250,000 per year as part of this bill, while those at the low end of the economic ladder will be left searching in the cold for health insurance coverage with uncontrollable premiums and exorbitant deductibles, if they can even find an insurer who will cover pre-existing conditions.

Yes, the ACA is not perfect. It can be fixed. But not this way. It must be fixed with a scalpel, not a meat axe.

And if all this finagling and prestidigitation shows nothing else, it should amply demonstrate that the only way to fix health care in this country is to have a single-payer system, without the intrusion of insurance companies and with the ability to negotiate drug prices.

Oh yes, and with all our government representatives in the same plan as the rest of us.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at