If you think that the Republican health care bill proposed in the Senate only affects poor people and minorities, you would be completely wrong. The New Republic's Brian Beutler makes a powerful point about just how important the Affordable Care Act has been for everyday Americans by pointing out that Virginia shooting victim Rep. Steve Scalise would likely be uninsurable after he recovers, and liable for long term care costs until he's eligible for Medicare. Writes Beutler:
The House and Senate Trumpcare bills gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions in different ways: the former by allowing insurers to price gouge sick people; the latter by allowing insurers to exclude the treatments sick people need from covered benefit schedules, creating adverse selection. Both would destabilize insurance markets for people with pre-existing conditions in at least some states. The Senate bill does not exempt members of Congress, and House Republicans have gone on record with the promise that Trumpcare will apply to them, too.
This would then directly impact Scalise, who is currently still in hospital with incredibly serious injuries. Continues Beutler:
We don’t know if Scalise’s recovery will take years, or if he will need chronic care when he gets through rehabilitation. Hopefully the answer to both questions is no. But it’s dreadfully easy to imagine that if a Republican health care bill becomes law, Scalise will ultimately be uninsurable under its terms, leaving him exposed to the long-term costs of his injuries, and to the costs of other ailments that might befall him between now and when he becomes eligible for Medicare.
It is painfully obvious that Republicans would like to pretend that the issues raised by the Alexandria shooting and by their health care repeal efforts don’t overlap at all. It is just as obvious that the health and financial security of people they don’t know, or who aren’t independently wealthy, isn’t of concern to them as public officials. But a recurring theme of conservative politics in America is the discovery of empathy when consequences of right-wing policies hit home. The best thing that could possibly come of Scalise’s shooting wouldn’t be some fleeting moment of political unity. It would be pulling Republicans back from the brink of trading American lives for tax cuts.
If this example doesn't illustrate how incredibly cruel the current health care bill is to its authors, it doesn't seem clear what would. Speaking on Bill Maher's show, Rachel Maddow once said that, "I want to arrange for every Republican who signed onto the Paul Ryan budget to wake up with a poor son. Because then I know all of a sudden you won’t want to cut food stamps. You won’t want to cut school nutrition. If empathy only extends to your flesh and blood, we gotta start shoving people into those families."
Scalise, like every American, deserves to get the best health care available at the expense of the tax payer. It is the safety net decent societies provide for their citizens that takes that little bit of anxiety away from them in their everyday life. The prospect of getting sick and then going bankrupt is a worry no one should have to contend with, and the ACA addressed this by banning insurance companies from exempting people with pre-existing conditions, stopping them from price gouging and banning them from excluding necessary treatments. Trumpcare and the new Senate bill would eliminate much of these provisions putting lives and livelihoods at risk -- even those of white Republican men like Rep. Steve Scalise.
Repealing the ACA will be a disaster, and if Republicans can't find enough empathy for regular Americans who will suffer the consequences of their latest bill, perhaps they can find it for one of their own.