The American Healthcare Act: Who would Jesus kill?

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The Republican-controlled House of Representatives finally executed their plan to end Obamacare and in so doing initiated a death sentence for thousands of Americans.

Classically, in the guise of “compassionate conservatism,” and so often touting family values and piety, this action paradoxically or hypocritically took place on the National Day of Prayer. The Republican caucus, largely made up of wealthy white men, finally succeeded in their wishes to strip healthcare from poor people, lower middle class people and people of color across this nation.

Make no doubt about it, people will die due to this action if successful in the Senate. The proposed plan, rushed to passage before the Congressional Budget Office had made its assessment, will most likely result in the premature deaths of tens of thousands of Americans. The previous Republican plan was anticipated to take care away from some 24 million Americans. This plan will take care away from millions more as states and employers will have the ability to determine what coverage will be included or excluded and remove the mandates for coverage. Studies have estimated that for every thousand people not insured, one person will die prematurely. Thus, some 24,000 Americans would be expected to die prematurely due to this legislative action.

In addition, they approved gutting $880 million from the federal Medicaid program, which affects half of all kids in the United States. They allowed pre-existing conditions to again be considered in pricing and excluding health coverage, leaving that decision up to the states. It is vital to know that 52 million Americans have pre-existing conditions — how many of these people will lose coverage when their states decide to make that ruling? Also removed are the mandates for essential benefit coverage such as hospitalization, emergency room, maternity, preventative care and prescription.

The determination of what will be covered and for whom is ultimately tantamount to the illegal practicing of medicine without a license.

As a practicing family physician for more than 36 years, I know this action will further complicate my ability to deliver and provide the health care that my patients need and deserve. Throughout my entire practice, I have had to fight, modify, and negotiate as an advocate for my patients while watching them struggle with what they can and cannot afford, resulting in significant impacts on their health outcomes.

A far more equitable and comprehensive plan is possible and the time has come for us as a nation to move in that direction. That sensible, fair and affordable plan is for us to move to a single payer Medicare for all coverage for every person in this country without regard to age or state of residence. The sole pre-existing condition that must be eliminated is the continued representation of our citizens by these congressional representatives. We can no longer afford self-serving hypocrisy. The health of our nation depends upon this.

Robert F. Dodge, M.D., is a practicing family physician and writes for PeaceVoice.

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