Dear Mr. President, I Hope You Appreciate the Free Healthcare I Pay for You to Have
I heard it said by some pundits that President Trump contracting coronavirus and now being hospitalized with the disease is a “teachable moment” for this country, and by that they meant that maybe now the naysayers can finally all get on board with the obvious fact that we all need to wear masks, need to socially distance, etc. Yes, it is a teachable moment for that, but it is also a teachable moment for something else. This whole circumstance highlights the gross, stark and utterly indefensibly inequitable healthcare system in this country.
Let me begin by finishing what I started to say in the title above. Dear Mr. President, I hope you appreciate the free healthcare I pay for you to have, wish I had the same.
But I don’t. I don’t get free healthcare paid for by the government because people like Trump, Republicans, many assorted millionaires and billionaires have all concluded that government run, government paid healthcare is not a good idea and so fight very hard to prevent such a thing from coming to pass. Apparently, though, it is a good idea when it benefits them. Many Republicans, many conservatives, who work in government are more than happy to have their healthcare expenses covered by the government. That is, their care is paid for by the taxes I paid. Let me be clear. I do not begrudge them that. I only begrudge the fact they cannot see it in their hearts to return the favor. In the old Robin Hood story, Robin stole from the rich to give to the poor. When it comes to access to and receiving healthcare in America, apparently our government steals from the poor to give to the rich. And I would really like to hear what the justification for that is? Anyone? Anyone want to take a stab at explaining to me why that is right and good and fair?
Here are the countries with universal healthcare, by that meaning healthcare to most citizens and the government sees to it the citizens do not suffer financial hardship in accessing healthcare. You don’t need to read anything there when you go to that link, you don’t need to look at the long long long list of countries who figured out that access to healthcare must not be based on ability to pay but is instead a fundamental human right. Just glance at the map right at the top of the linked page. In one quick glance you can see the United States of America and sub-Saharan Africa have something in common, namely the decision to not guarantee healthcare to our citizens. Sub-Saharan Africa has an excuse, I imagine, along the lines of maybe they cannot afford to provide universal healthcare. What is our excuse?
Oh, silly question. Of course the answer is that we cannot afford it either. Why can’t we afford it? Could it have anything to do with, for example, that Donald Trump paid $750 in taxes in 2016 and $750 in taxes in 2017? Well, perhaps though I should not pick on him, since according to his tax filings he has had for many, many years hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. Poor man. What a shame. And he is deeply in debt, also a shame. So, I guess it is a good thing that the state-of-the-art 24/7 healthcare and monitoring he is now receiving is paid for by me and you, since if he were hit with the multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars bill upon release from the hospital, I guess he couldn’t afford that either, being so terribly in debt already.
So rather than pick on him, or other oddly cash-strapped multimillionaires with enormous business loses on their tax returns (nothing suspicious going on there, I’m sure), perhaps the reason my government cannot provide me healthcare is because, for example, Amazon, who in 2018 earned 11 billion dollars in profits, paid $0 in taxes.
Yes, indeed, this is a teachable moment for America.
But let’s dig deeper. Let’s consider the present pandemic. Former Governor Chris Christie has tested positive for coronavirus and even though he has mild symptoms, he checked himself into a hospital as a precaution, because he has asthma. Could you do that? Could you check yourself into the hospital just because you wanted to? With mild COVID symptoms? No. You could not. Because in a pandemic, resources are scarce, and the sickest and those in the most dire condition, whoever they are, should be the ones to go to the head of the line. I do hope Chris Christie stays well, I wish him all the best, and I hope he has no complications, but he is just a citizen of this country, as I am just a citizen of this country, and in this country we are all, supposedly, equal, and we are not supposed to have an Aristocracy that gets special treatment.
But that is exactly what our healthcare system is: an Aristocracy where certain people get special treatment.
President Trump received the Regeneron Antibody cocktail, an experimental treatment for COVID that is not available to you and not available to me. He received it under the rules of what it termed “compassionate use” even though he did not qualify under those standards, at least not unless they lied to us and he was far more seriously ill than was claimed, since compassionate use is for those at death’s door who have run out of any other options, but he received it, and on his tweet the other day, well I’m no doctor, but he didn’t look like he was at death’s door. An aristocracy healthcare system on behalf of the President.
President Trump received remdesivir, an antiviral medication, that has received emergency use authorization from the FDA which allows it to be used for any patient with severe COVID-19. Again, unless the President and his doctors are lying to us, he is not suffering a severe infection. So, again, he has received something not available to you and not available to me. An aristocracy healthcare system on behalf of the President.
I suppose the only question left for me to ask is this: At what point do we, the common folk who can’t afford to go to the doctor, even with health insurance, because the deductable is too much; who cannot afford some prescription medications because they cost as much as a monthly mortgage payment; who cannot get a convenient and rapid coronavirus test every day; who cannot afford to quarantine and stay home from work because we don’t have paid sick leave; and who face, with this Supreme Court nomination, the prospect of soon being told in the future, when we apply for health insurance that is really little more than the equivalent of a discount card for what little healthcare we can hope for, that we can’t even get that pitiful health insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition (that is to say because we once were sick before, so tough luck)…. at what point do we all get the torches and pitchforks and storm the castle? Seriously?
A teachable moment. Not for us, but for every Republican and conservative in Washington. Are you listening?