The Times is even openly soliciting testimony about medical insurance nightmares from its readers.The lede of the front-page article is reminiscent of Rep. Alan Grayson's legendary 2009 rant on the House floor:
Here is the surest way to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having health insurance: Don’t get sick.The number of uninsured Americans has fallen by an estimated 15 million since 2013, thanks largely to the Affordable Care Act. But a new survey, the first detailed study of Americans struggling with medical bills, shows that insurance often fails as a safety net. Health plans often require hundreds or thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket payments — sums that can create a cascade of financial troubles for the many households living paycheck to paycheck.
In the new poll, conducted by The New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation, roughly 20 percent of people under age 65 with health insurance nonetheless reported having problems paying their medical bills over the last year. By comparison, 53 percent of people without insurance said the same.These financial vulnerabilities reflect the high costs of health care in the United States, the most expensive place in the world to get sick. They also highlight a substantial shift in the nature of health insurance. Since the late 1990s, insurance plans have begun asking their customers to pay an increasingly greater share of their bills out of pocket though rising deductibles and co-payments. The Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama in 2010, protected many Americans from very high health costs by requiring insurance plans to be more comprehensive, but at the same time it allowed or even encouraged increases in deductibles.
Sick and Sicker:
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson came uncomfortably close to channeling Heinrich Himmler as he outlined his reasons for rounding up Central American refugee families for imprisonment and quick deportation back to the countries they had fled out of desperation for their very lives. Many of the deportees face almost certain death upon their return. Johnson's cold-blooded statement:
The focus of this weekend’s operations were adults and their children who (i) were apprehended after May 1, 2014 crossing the southern border illegally, (ii) have been issued final orders of removal by an immigration court, and (iii) have exhausted appropriate legal remedies, and have no outstanding appeal or claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief under our laws. As part of these operations, 121 individuals were taken into custody, primarily from Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina, and they are now in the process of being repatriated. To effect removal, most families are first being transported to one of ICE’s family residential centers for temporary processing before being issued travel documents and boarding a return flight to their home countries.
Given the sensitive nature of taking into custody and removing families with children, a number of precautions were taken as part of this weekend’s operations. ICE deployed from around the country a number of female agents and medical personnel to take part in the operations, and, in the course of the operations, ICE exercised prosecutorial discretion in a number of cases for health or other personal reasons.
.... I know there are many who loudly condemn our enforcement efforts as far too harsh, while there will be others who say these actions don’t go far enough. I also recognize the reality of the pain that deportations do in fact cause. But, we must enforce the law consistent with our priorities. At all times, we endeavor to do this consistent with American values, and basic principles of decency, fairness, and humanity.Contrast this to Reichsfuhrer Himmler's cold-blooded rationale for rounding up and deporting the Jews (and unlike Johnson's boasting, his speech was given in secret):
I ask of you that that which I say to you in this circle be really only heard and not ever discussed. We were faced with the question: what about the women and children? – I decided to find a clear solution to this problem too. I did not consider myself justified to exterminate the men – in other words, to kill them or have them killed and allow the avengers of our sons and grandsons in the form of their children to grow up. The difficult decision had to be made to have this people disappear from the earth. For the organisation which had to execute this task, it was the most difficult which we had ever had. [...] I felt obliged to you, as the most superior dignitary, as the most superior dignitary of the party, this political order, this political instrument of the Führer, to also speak about this question quite openly and to say how it has been. The Jewish question in the countries that we occupy will be solved by the end of this year. Only remainders of odd Jews that managed to find hiding places will be left over.As Ian Buruma writes in Theater of Cruelty, "Evil deeds are often committed by people who have convinced themselves that they are doing something good. When Heinrich Himmler told his audience of SS officers in Posen in 1943 that 'exterminating' the Jews was a necessary duty carried out 'for the love of our people,' he was most probably sincere. No doubt he reveled in his own power, but I don't think he was evil for the sake of being evil. Himmler was not Satan, but a repellent human being with the means to put mad and murderous fantasies into practice."
Likewise, Jeh Johnson can ease his alleged conscience by adding social workers and medical personnel to his own de facto extermination squads. He sends "illegal" people to their deaths in the sincere belief that he is acting purely from decent and humane principles, for the love of Exceptional America.
Likewise, if millions of the beloved American people who are allowed to remain in the Homeland by virtue of their birth on American soil go broke, suffer and die prematurely through a lack of basic medical care, then the architects and defenders of the Affordable Care Act are smug in the knowledge that at least they are giving mercy to a chosen, select few. The unlucky others have been simply designated as necessary internal deportees. Despite Obamacare, as many as 17,000 legal Americans are still dying unnecessarily every single year. That is a feature, not a bug.
Internal and external deportees are what the neoliberal thought-collective, the cold-blooded cullers of the herd, euphemize as the collateral damage of their "hard choices."
Sick, sicker, sickest.