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In the end, our gravestones may be our most potent protest signs. (Photo: ManfredKain/Pixabay/CC0)

Medicare for All: Give Me Healthcare or Give Me Death

Donna Smith

Where are the screams about those death panels now?  As Trump-Bannon-Ryan and friends craft their healthcare path forward with the leaders of the swamp team, no one is crying “foul” about the bold, proud creation of those famed death panels.  I found it almost fitting that some of the latest negotiations happened on the golf course with the tweeter-in-chief and his close pal and darling of libertarians everywhere, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky).  And the American taxpayers paid for all of this fun on the links.

The Republicans are ready to move forward on allowing insurance companies to charge more if you have any health conditions requiring your use of insurance and also if you are older than 50.  I expect my premiums to be so much because of both issues that I will be effectively sentenced to death – but by God, my friends, let’s tank the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare.  

The art of the deal on healthcare is exactly the same as the art of the deal on every other topic in the United States under this regime:  Does Trump look good and does he take credit?  Is Pence kept sort of “clean” just in case the Donald has to be removed?  Do Ryan and McConnell look like they knocked off enough Dems in the process?  Are the Koch brothers happy?  Do we slap around enough lousy, urban liberal people who failed to vote for Donald?  There are absolutely no goals in their top ten that reflect healthcare access or quality.  

Follow the money right on over to the death panels, and your next big investment should be in Trump-branded final arrangements like pretty caskets and upscale soirees to say farewell to some of the regime supporters and voters who will, of course, be caught up in the collateral damage.  Sadly, we will bury and burn a few folks who were needed in red states too, but the far left ought to be pleased to see some of their weaker links removed in this way too.   I have reached out to find out about assisted suicide, and I have already priced what cremation costs.  One of my children offered to set up a healthcare guardianship for me, but there really is no need to try to do that.  Like so many Americans, my family—even the ones who are doing OK financially—do not need to divert their resources to pay an insurance company to deny most of the care I would need.

Millions of us keep waiting for the uprising on behalf of patients among us who have been stressed and terrified since November 8, 2017.  So far, the resistance pushed by most Democrats has not been enough for the Republicans to care.  The deal is all that matters.  And more specifically, all that really matters to the Republicans led by their standard-bearers Trump and Bannon is making a deal—any deal—no matter what it does to the human beings who are to be most injured.  Some Dems have used patients as props to say it’s terrible to see what the Rs are doing; some Repubs have used patients to say premiums are too high under the ACA/Obamacare.  There are no more patient rescues by groups coming to the defense—the real defense—of patients being harmed.  That all died long ago.  The money and the political power is all that matter to most in power now.

I will admit that on some days since November 8, 2017, death does not seem like the worst scenario for me, but I expect lots of other people do not agree.  Children, moms, dads, neighbors, friends and even many Republican voters will be caught up in this American, Republican culling of the wheat from the chaff.   

It would be so revolutionary if we would hear someone—anyone—say it is unacceptable to even discuss any healthcare plan that threatens the lives of this many Americans.  Who will filibuster for us?   If this were an ISIS attack on this many people, even a threatened ISIS attack, we would be seeing something very different in response from every elected official.  Apparently lives are worth less when they are ended through political deal-making.

Here is the deal I will make with all of my elected officials:  If you do what you are promising and pass some selfish, greedy Trump deal for healthcare that threatens my life and the lives of so many people, we will bear witness before we die.  We will take names.  We will know you avoided passing improved Medicare for All—the plan supported by a majority of Americans and the only one that is a centrist solution for this nation.  Medicare for All takes a good idea from the right (in private and public delivery of actual care) and a good idea from the left (with a single-pool public insurance model) and blends those into one centrist plan that covers everyone and saves money for individuals, families, business and the government.  Centrist.  A deal that values every life and values fiscal responsibility.  (As an aside, has anyone noted just how much money the insurance industry, big Pharma and other health business interests know they will make under an extension of Medicare to every American?  Hmmm.  Why not?)

Even those who support Medicare for All legislation in Congress sometimes remain silent. But, and I am sorry, you cannot do that anymore without being complicit in my suffering and death.  No political dance will keep you from that.  Asking for us to vote for change in 2018 is too late.  We are suffering now.  We are stressed now.  We are in the streets, on the phone and in your offices now.  I will not beg you.  You are on notice.  My life, and the lives of many of your constituents, are at stake.  Rise up and demand Medicare for All and see how quickly the country’s mood changes.  I know I could stop planning for my final days, and perhaps a few political fortunes would be significantly changed.  It is my belief that the American people would forever honor those who extended Medicare to everyone.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Donna Smith

Donna Smith

Donna Smith is the former executive director of Progressive Democrats of America and currently a Medicare for All campaign surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

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