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A Vote for American Healthcare is a Vote for Violence

"I write this to appeal, hell, plead, with my fellow Americans to pay attention to the suffering that exists all around us—to recognize our well, able-bodied privilege, and to come together to tear this cruel system down."

To protect profits, the private health insurance industry and their Congressional supporters continue strongly opposing Medicare for All.  (Photo: National Nurses United/flickr/cc)

A recent study by Yale epidemiologists found that Medicare-for-All would prevent 68,000 deaths a year. These 68,000 deaths are not quiet, peaceful deaths. They are gasping-for-air, writhing-in-pain, bleeding out, wasting, violent, gruesome deaths. These deaths often follow extended periods of physical pain, emotional distress, and financial ruin.

The same study found that Medicare-for-All would save the United States 45 billion dollars annually. In the midst of a pandemic-motivated corporate bailout estimated at between $6 and $10 trillion so far, the ‘’but how will we pay for it” argument has largely been abandoned. And yet, the nominee for the Democratic Party has unequivocally stated that he will veto Medicare-for-All, the Democrats in Congress have proposed a bill to bail out insurance companies that subsidizes COBRA payments rather than provides healthcare for their constituents, and 27 million Americans and counting have lost their employer-based coverage as unemployment soars. Three of the four members of Congress with the highest campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry are Democrats, and the healthcare lobby accounts for a third of the contributions to the DCCC in the 2019-2020 election cycle. As usual, the Republicans brazenly broadcast their disdain for the poor, sick, and disabled. Put simply, both Democrats and Republicans receive many millions of dollars from the healthcare lobby to ensure that the industry profits at the expense of human life. There is no relief in sight from either establishment party, not even in the shadow of economic collapse.

I write this not to rage against the bipartisan, healthcare and pharma lobby funded machine. Although, the American public should at minimum educate themselves as to why every developed nation on earth has managed to provide healthcare to its citizens as a right, except for the US.

I write this to appeal, hell, plead, with my fellow Americans to pay attention to the suffering that exists all around us- to recognize our well, able-bodied privilege, and to come together to tear this cruel system down.

I have MS. I have a growing Rolodex of injuries, illnesses, and disabilities. I am exhausted. My prospects are limited. I am a victim of the unwinnable battle with our healthcare system. I work full time to keep my increasingly unaffordable health insurance. Ironically, I will lose this insurance when my full time job makes me too sick to continue working full time. I cannot vote for a candidate that doesn’t support Medicare-for-All.

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I have been told that I am part of the Democratic Party's disunity problem for my decision. I have been told that I am part of the problem as if prioritizing my own ability to remain in the world is petty or immature. I have been told this by people who think millions of lives are expendable in the name of political party loyalty and who refuse to acknowledge that we cannot patiently wait for incremental change when our lives are at stake. I have only been told this by people who are well, able-bodied, or who have excellent health insurance. I am angry and indignant because people who casually vote to sacrifice the most vulnerable of their fellow citizens are the problem, and not the other way around.

Class does not prevent illness and disability, though their onset tends to push the afflicted into poverty. People with disabilities make up 12% of the US population, yet account for more than half of the population living in long-term poverty. Medical bills are responsible for an astounding 66.5% of bankruptcies. As of January, it was estimated that as many as 25% of Americans delayed getting healthcare because of cost, resulting in great physical pain, mental anguish, and death. These numbers have surely grown exponentially during the pandemic.

We should be outraged at the injustices that our fellow citizens suffer at the hands of this predatory healthcare system. We should be outraged at the violence that it inflicts on its innocent victims. We should be outraged that this violence has been normalized as if there is nothing to be done to stop it. We should not accept it, nor should we be quiet about it. We should educate our neighbors, withhold our votes, and shout that we will do so from the streets. Tens of millions uninsured, underinsured, bankrupt, suffering, and dead constitutes an unforgivable injustice. Please allies, I beg of you, demand justice.

And please, allies; recognize that by settling for anything less than universal healthcare and by voting for someone who does not support Medicare-for-All, we are committing a deliberate and willing act of violence against the poor, sick, and disabled among us.

Maggie Mills

Maggie Mills

Maggie Mills is an artist and assistant professor of art at Cedar Crest College.

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