Despite its best intentions, a Congress stuffed with aging millionaires does provide the occasional benefit for the downtrodden rest of us.
We should probably thank Senator John McCain and the surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain for our latest reprieve from getting our crappy health insurance coverage slashed into worse than nothing. Because of McCain's illness, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to delay voting on his cruel plan to punish the strapped and the ill for the benefit of the richest of the rich.
And especially for those of us who personally rely upon, or whose family members rely upon, Medicaid coverage: we must seize upon this gift of time to spread the word about how god-awful the GOP's bill truly is. This cruel legislation would punish and doom to a even earlier death the fully one-third of all Americans who receive Medicaid when they become underpaid, unemployed, sick, hurt, disabled, or old. In putting a cap on lifetime Medicaid benefits, the Republican legislation is a true stealth weapon of mass destruction.
The Democrats and the corporate media cannot, for the most part, be bothered to spread the word too thickly. They're too busy spreading, like unhealthy dollops of clotted cream, all the latest RussiaGate gossip and innuendo. They're too busy drumming up the paranoia, too busy softening up the American public for more war and more arms sales for them to get too mushy and soft-hearted about spreading the word that a Medicare for All plan would be both humane and cost-effective. And, incidentally, virtually repeal-proof, what with 100% of the population becoming contributing beneficiaries.
While McCain, who has a history of melanoma, is expected to stay out of Washington for at least a week, medical experts say his healing could take much longer. I would recommend just making it a whole recovery summer. If his fellow senators get too bored, they can always venture out to town halls to try and explain to their constituents that cruelty is freedom.
Besides the irony of one legislator's personal illness getting in the way of his sadistic cohort depriving tens of millions of people from receiving care is the irony that this one particular senator never need worry about where the money will come from to pay deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. He very likely will never even have to look at a hospital bill. His gold-plated congressional insurance will see to that.
Meanwhile, yet another study reveals that even under the selective benefits of the Affordable Care Act, the United States still has the worst health care among the 11 rich nations studied. It is also the only country in the study which lacks true universal coverage.
Regardless of your income and insurance, you will get the worst care and the worst access to care if you happen to live in the exceptional Land of the Free. While nearly half of low-income Americans complain of restricted access to care, even a surprising 26% of the well-to-do report having difficulty paying their uncovered medical expenses.
You read that right: a wealthy American has more trouble getting and paying for care than even the poorest Brit or Aussie. Even the affluent misanthropes who stand to benefit off the backs of the sick and poor if this bill is passed don't have it as good as they think they do, despite all the concierge medical services their money can buy.
The Commonwealth Fund study, aptly titled Mirror, Mirror 2017, found that although the US spent $9,364 per person on health care last year, the United Kingdom and its single payer National Health Service came in first in the survey - despite an expenditure of only $4,094 per person. The runners-up are Australia and the Netherlands.
In each of the categories studied, the US ranked dead last or near last, with the exception of better outcomes for its hospitalized heart attack and stroke patients. The failing categories include equity of care, administrative efficiency and outcomes, primary care affordability, and financial protections against destitution for citizens who get sick or hurt.
America also does relatively well in doctor-patient relationships, end of life care, and survival rates for such diseases as breast cancer. It does poorly on infant mortality rates, and it has the lowest life expectancy of the 11 countries for citizens who reach the age of 60.
The richest country on earth still has the highest rate of preventable deaths. America is indeed exceptional, the unfairest of them all.
*Update, July 18: Two more senators have joined the Clot Caucus, and ding dong, the bill is dead! Or is it? The late great George Romero, whose undead franchise is more alive than ever, might have a thing or two to say to all the revelers out there. As might the late great Mark Twain, who quipped that "the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated" after reading his own obituary in the newspaper.
To proclaim that the GOP's bill to destroy the health care of tens of millions is dead is about as premature as the late great Edgar Allan Poe's tale of the living burial. When plutocrats want something, or more aptly, when they demand everything, they don't give up. Otherwise, they wouldn't be plutocrats.
So read the fine print. The headline in today's New York Times, for example, merely notes that the two new Senatorial defections only "signal" the end of TrumpCare.
And then there were these ominous rumblings from the mythical "other side" of the Aisle of the Dead:
The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, responded to the announcement on Monday by urging his Republican colleagues to begin anew and, this time, undertake a bipartisan effort.
“This second failure of Trumpcare is proof positive that the core of this bill is unworkable,” Mr. Schumer said. “Rather than repeating the same failed, partisan process yet again, Republicans should start from scratch and work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long-term stability to the markets and improves our health care system.”Whenever you hear the words "bipartisan" and "long-term stability to the markets" uttered by a politician, you should brace yourself for the fortified oligarchic shock troops assembling for yet another awesome surge. They don't call Schumer the Senator of Wall Street for nothing. The day that he utters the phrase "Medicare for All" will be the day that his campaign war chest goes bare and his commanders quickly advise a permanent R&R and a brain scan.