Before Obamacare, the healthcare industry ran amok.
The GOP has vowed to repeal Obamacare, and they’ve finally got their chance. But now, some are having their doubts. Oh, not the ones from the so-called Freedom Caucus, of course. For them, TrumpCare isn’t harsh enough. But a handful of Republicans — whom we charitably call “moderates” for caring about the well-being of their constituents and the alarming numbers crunched by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) — also oppose the GOP’s American Healthcare Act (AHCA).
Republicans hate Obamacare because it does too much, while many Democrats hate it because it does too little. But now that we may lose it, we’re starting to appreciate it more. As of Thursday, a Quinnipiac University Poll revealed only 17 percent approve of the GOP’s plan to “repeal and replace” the ACA. In any case, House Republicans cancelled the vote on Thursday and the GOP’s president Donald Trump demanded a vote on Friday regardless of whether the AHCA had a chance of passing. [UPDATE: It failed.]
While complaining about the Affordable Healthcare Act, it’s easy to forget: Before the ACA, our healthcare system was a total mess, thanks to the greedy, penny-pinching shills who run our health insurance and drug companies. And when health insurance companies don’t cover people, healthcare providers are forced to let people die.
Remember the good old days when an unexpected medical emergency could destroy you? You and your family could be healthy and happy one minute, and then…BOOM. Disaster strikes and you’re injured or learn that your spouse or child has a life-threatening medical condition. You think you’re fully covered by health insurance, but guess what?
Having no health insurance is bad enough. But — even with health insurance — there were at least four totally lame reasons why the these companies would decide to let you or someone you love die. And now the Republicans want to roll back regulations so health insurers can start not covering things that should be covered again.
Heaven forbid you, your partner, or your child happened to be (1) Disabled; (2) Bad at paperwork or come up even the teensiest bit short on your monthly payment, like say, 26 cents; or (3) Have a history of being
black “non-compliant” that makes the Powers-That-Be think you’re more likely to not follow your doctor’s recommended treatment plan.
Back when the healthcare industry was still desperately fighting the ACA, you’d think they would have been on their best behavior so we’d all forget about why we wanted Obamacare to hold them in check. Instead, they seemed hell bent on making America’s still-bloated, inefficient, for-profit healthcare system look as evil as possible.
Four standard excuses the healthcare industry would give for letting people die.
Please note: By “standard excuses,” I’m actually talking about “standard excuses.” Healthcare providers and health insurance companies actually had boilerplate legal phrases to explain why they were denying you treatment.
1. You’re disabled. You know things were getting really bad in the healthcare industry when a GOP governor had to sign a bill banning hospitals from denying organ transplants to disabled people — as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did in back in July, 2013. According to Susan K. Livio from the (N.J.) Star-Ledger, then-three-year-old Amelia Rivera’s doctor refused to consider her for a kidney transplant because she has Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome — a developmental disability. The bill was passed in response to public outcry over the case. Back in 2012, Susan Donaldson James from ABC News reported that over 37,000 people signed a petition after Amelia’s mother, Chrissy Rivera — a teacher and mother who also had two older children — wrote about the experience in her blog.
Without regulations to hold them in check, our nation’s for-profit healthcare companies will do anything possible to avoid providing medical care when their customers need it.
2. You’re not “detail-oriented.” If you or a loved one has ongoing health issues, you’d better pay attention and not screw up even one single detail about anything ever. The healthcare industry will do anything to screw you, as a health insurance company did when a man’s payment was 26 cents short.
In August, 2013 Karen Price Mueller from The (N.J.) Star-Ledger reported a 33-year-old father of three was almost left to die when his insurance company denied him a scheduled bone marrow transplant. Sergio Branco was being treated for Leukemia when he got laid off from his job as a truck driver immediately after his legally required paid medical leave ran out. Although Branco and his family struggled to maintain his health insurance plan via COBRA— the only (and hideously expensive) option available for keeping your health coverage after losing a job back before the ACA — the insurance company cancelled his policy because his first payment was 26 cents short. That’s right. He was just 26 cents short. Talk about kicking a man when he’s down.
black have a “history of non-compliance.” Did you know that before the ACA fully took effect, a teenager could be denied a heart transplant for having bad grades and trouble with the law? Atlanta, Georgia hospital refused to give 15-year-old Anthony Stokes a heart transplant because his “low grades” in school and his “trouble with the law” suggested that he might not comply with the doctor’s treatment recommendations. This, in spite of the fact that the boy had less than six months to live and that his mother, Melencia Hamilton, told WSBTV Channel 2’s Tony Thomas that a transplant “is the only fix for her son’s enlarged heart.” Gee, this didn’t have anything to do with Stokes’ race, would it? Seriously, if Stokes and his mother were white, would there even be any question of this family complying with the hospital’s treatment recommendations? Jeez, I suppose we should count our blessings that Stokes wasn’t wearing a hoodie while his doctor or nurse was packing heat.
4. You have no health insurance. With companies laying people off right and left and health insurance premiums going through the roof, it’s a danged good thing Obamacare’s fully in effect. Thanks to the ACA, nearly 90 percent of Americans had health insurance and access to healthcare as of August 2015, according to Time magazine. Unfortunately, that still means that 29 million people remain uninsured, thanks mostly to GOP governors refusing to expand Medicaid.
[NOTE: This is not to malign doctors and nurses and others who struggle to care for their patients. But that doesn’t change the fact that if you or your insurance company can’t pay, you may not receive adequate care. Healthcare for profit is sick and wrong.]