Opinion: Who Does Congress Represent?

July 20, 2017

Burlington Free Press

We have the jaw-dropping situation in which a congressional majority is attempting to deprive 22-23 million Americans of health-care coverage – while the rest of the advanced world guarantees this coverage to everyone of its citizens.

To make things even more perverse, an overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens want this coverage – only a paltry 16 percent standing with the reps. How can people in Congress possibly defy this mandate from the people who put them in office? And since they are defying it, to whose will are they bending, instead of the people’s?

The answer is painfully simple and – incredibly – never mentioned in the heated debate. It is yet another – and more toxic – example of the ongoing battle between the public sector mandated to protect the people – as other advanced governments do regarding health care – and the private sector seeking only profit, which is indifferent to social consequences, including life itself (Look at what it’s doing to the environment!).

And since the majority of our congresspeople owe their seats to corporate donors, these reps give allegiance to their patrons – in this case the private insurance companies – instead of the people who elected them. So we get dire warnings that insurers are pulling out of states, supposedly leaving us with no options for coverage.

But who needs “options” if we have humane, government-sponsored universal coverage, free of deductibles and the restrictions of preexisting conditions? And under this coverage costs would come down, since there is no profit in a government program, and, through government negotiating power, drug costs would be reduced to the sensible levels everyone is clamoring for.

This is exactly the health care situation in the other advanced nations where per-capita costs are dramatically less than they are in the U.S., and the medical results better in many cases – including infant mortality and longevity. But the private sector dictates policy in the U.S. more than it does in any of the other advanced nations. And in the service of maximum profit, that policy demands exclusion of any not-for-profit government support, regardless of government’s inestimable superiority by virtue of its equitably serving the whole of society.

The only problem with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was that it included insurance companies in the plan, Obama believing that the “Public Option” was politically untenable, though he supported it. With the government guaranteeing coverage, as it should, the insurance companies would be out of the mix, as they should be. But as things stand, there are still about 28 million Americans without health coverage. And we are told that “premiums are rising!” – as if premiums had a magical will of their own, rather than being intentionally raised by the private sector in order to maximize profit.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) the proposed health care legislation will result in not just healthy people losing coverage, but ill people as well, who depend upon their coverage for their treatment – with a prediction of over 14,000 deaths in the first year from lack of coverage.

What makes America so primitive among nations, that it opts for profit over life itself in what is nothing less than a genocidal proposal? Let’s hope that when the reps are back home facing their constituencies, they’ll realize that in pulling the rug out from under health care they’ll also be pulling it out from under their seats in government.

Ultimately, socialized medicine must prevail – as it does in enlightened nations – because for-profit medicine, in its exclusion of so many from care, is clearly lethal.

Andrew Torre lives in Londonderry.