Americans and the nation need health care | Juneau Empire

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, just sent thousands of Alaskans a long letter. It replies to their concerns over the Senate’s Better Care Reconstruction Act (BCRA). He did his best to make the act sound as though it would have been good in many ways.

For instance, stated is that “Alaskans did not get the full story” about the act, that it “would have helped Alaskans,” and that he “would not have voted for a bill that would have made Alaskans worse off, period.”

If the senator knew that the bill would not have hurt Alaska or Alaskans, why did he not say so and explain right away? He does not say why, or explain.

In his letter he laments the lack of transparency in the whole process, yet even on this important point, there was and is still no transparency. Until shown differently, the BCRA, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) would have taken health care from tens of thousands in Alaska and tens of millions across the country.

Beyond obviously high human costs, the BCRA would have been extremely expensive by making poor people sick and then sicker and then extremely costly to treat, putting even higher costs into health care. Taking health care from people and making them sick does not solve health care problems, only makes them.

Also to have occurred immediately had the BCRA passed (according to the CBO), the cost of health care plans would have risen immediately by 20 percent. The senator touted a fund of $45 billion for expensively sick people, but being divided 50 ways proportionate to population and used 50 different ways would make it not nearly enough. Mentioned is that as a result of reinsurance, next year health care premiums in Alaska will decrease.

The senator says it’s “a little more than 7 percent,” but Aetna reports a drop of 20 percent or more. This disparity is not explained. (Unclear is how the proposed BCRA would have affected this decrease.)

The senator listed examples of Alaskans who have very high premiums under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), such as “One man from Eagle River [who] is paying more than $30,000 per year in premiums with a $10,000 deductible for coverage.”

Such high claims need vetting because often they have not held up under examination. Not included are stories from people expressing support for the ACA. However, before and after the defeat of the BRCA, newspapers have consistently published readers who are FOR preserving and improving the ACA, some going out of their way to identify themselves as Republicans and small business owners.

For heaven’s sake: 78 percent of the country was against the BCRA. It was bad for America and for Alaska; people could see it and feel it.

That cruel bill, thankfully defeated, is surely a symptom of something far worse, a crippling and dangerous disease dispersed by word of mouth from the president of the country.

He spreads it by not identifying as harmfully infectious the self-identified white supremacists wearing uniforms and helmets, and carrying shields, assault type weapons, and torches … by saying protesters against such intimidation were just as bad as the military-style supremacists chanting racist slogans … by equating statues of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

We would do well to ask our representatives, who are members of a co-equal branch of government, to resist this infection. Apparent is a virulent strain of racism, intolerance and authoritarianism, and a dangerous masking of these germs by stating a false sameness between avowed hate groups and those who protest them, between founders of the nation and those who fought against it. But worst are gestures of tolerance for hate groups even when their infection causes serious injuries and deaths.

To be hoped is that Senator Sullivan and all of Congress will see how the soul of the Republican party is perilously exposed to an infection that would lead to continued government paralysis, only more severe, long and obdurate. For this kind of polio virus, the time for prevention is now. Clearly the country wants comprehensive health care and the nation itself urgently needs it.

• Art Petersen is a retired UAS faculty member and Juneau resident.


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