We are told that “elections have consequences” by the Republicans in Congress who are eager to toss sticks of dynamite into our current healthcare system created by the Affordable Care Act. “Elections have consequences,” say the people who know that they and their families will continue to have generous health care provided by the Federal Government. “Elections have consequences,” is the mantra of men and women of power and privilege who can go to bed at night with the comforting knowledge that they will not feel the consequences of their actions.
But millions upon millions of Americans will. A lot of them voted for Donald Trump and his vague promises of a healthcare Nirvana with doctor choice, low premiums, and excellent care. It’s a promise, like so many he and the GOP have made, that read better as a story told by Hans Christian Anderson – a fairy tale. The reality is more likely to be a nightmare. But that’s the grim economic reality of health care, one that the ACA set about to change, imperfectly by almost all accounts, but at least in the right direction. That the ACA was vilified with dose upon dose of misrepresentations, distortions and outright lies, that it used the complexities of healthcare to whip up fevered opposition, is a matter of politics and not policy. It is the very definition of disingenuousness.
Yet we are where we are. There can be no schadenfreude in seeing millions of voters who may now suddenly realize that the health care they now enjoy was the product of the ACA – which for them lives under the damning epithet of Obamacare. For their suffering is our suffering.
I do have some flickers of hope, however, that the reality of healthcare will convince some principled Republicans to reconsider. I think the pressure must swell up from the bottom. Those of us who have healthcare through employment or other means, must stand in solidarity with those who now quake in fear and uncertainty as they tuck their children to bed, check on a sick friend, or scan their medicine cabinet to see what drugs they would first opt to go without. This, my friends is what is at stake. Men, women, and children will die and suffer if we suddenly deny care to those who now depend on it. We can hope our elected officials, not only at the national level but the state and local, regardless of political party, hear the outcrying for help.
Donald Trump has promised great healthcare for everyone. So everyone, from the press, to the citizens, to politicians of his own party, must hold him accountable. We must recognize that this is not an easy problem to solve. That there will always be things about a system that deals with life and death and expensive services that we will not like. We can play to the basest instincts of our nature, we can posture, preen, and pontificate a loud hooey, or we can face facts and reality.
Elections have consequences, but so does a cancer diagnosis, a debilitating accident, and the economic, mental, and moral strain of living life one medical event away from bankruptcy. “Elections have consequences,” is one governing philosophy. But another one might be “there but for the grace of God go I.”