The latest reports from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (as well as independent reports from non-partisan, non-governmental organizations) paint a dark and unsettling picture for our state if the current Republican-sponsored health care proposals become law.
As previously reported by the Herald-Leader, Kentucky would see the percentage of uninsured increase by ~231 percent in 2022. Federal health care spending (which many people rely upon, particularly those who are disables or low-income) would see around a 58.5 percent decrease.
Even worse, yearly caps would be placed on how much Medicaid/disability insurance will pay for health care. Considering that Eastern Kentucky is full of disabled miners and the working poor who rely upon these and associated programs (the Children’s Health Insurance Program, for example), the impact to our region could be devastating.
This, of course, is without even mentioning more specific aspects of the proposal, such as the removal of funding for addiction treatment — the only thing providing hope (or at least temporary stability) for so many families torn apart by drug abuse.
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The only winners in these proposals are the wealthy elites in places like Washington (Sen. Mitch McConnell is a good example), who are set to receive additional tax cuts. Meanwhile, ordinary Americans will see their coverage decline or evaporate while their deductibles skyrocket.
This robbery of health care from the working poor and disabled to seed the pockets of the obscenely rich is so blatant and crude that it reminds me of the old statement from highwaymen: “Stand and deliver, your money or your life!” No matter who you are or what party you identify with, this should outrage you.
The medical community sees how disastrous this will be, which is why the American Osteopathic Association — currently led by the dean of the University of Pikeville’s Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine Dr. Boyd Buser — has issued statements opposing the proposals and lobbied congressional Republicans to abandon or revise them.
We need to work together toward more humane legislation that would better our health-care system, not create a human catastrophe. Health care can, and should, always be improved. But these current proposals harm everyone in the medical community, particularly your primary-care providers, and will have potentially deadly consequences for patients.
On the campaign trail, President Donald J. Trump promised people in places like Kentucky and West Virginia he would not cut their earned Medicaid/disability health care or abandon them in their fight against opioid addiction. Yet, his own party has proposed to do just the opposite.
Many people believed in what he said and delivered Kentucky to him with a strong margin, and now it’s time for the president to delivers for them. If you voted for Trump, demand that he delivers what he promised you and hold his feet to the fire to ensure that he does so. If the Republican Party persists down the road they’re currently on by cutting your hard-earned benefits, eliminating funding for addiction treatment and engaging in the highway robbery of the working poor and disabled in our communities, it will be time to deliver a strong rebuke at the ballot box and remind the party of one simple fact:
You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time. But you can’t fool all the people all the time.
Christian Tyler Marcum of Pike County is a medical student at the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine. He can be reached at email@example.com.