David Irvine

Op-ed: The Republicans’ true health care plan? Call it KochCare

Source: Salt Lake Tribune

Two things are now clear about our national political charade:

1) We are stuck with a president whose commitment to truth is, for all useful purposes, non-existent, and who mostly doesn’t know what he’s talking about, otherwise.

2) The Republican Party — my party — has sold out to the high rollers whose interests and policy objectives are antithetical to the daily life struggles of most Americans. The rolling train wreck of Trumpcare was stunningly shocking — not because it was a picture of a party that could not get its act together, but because there was no limit to the number of bodies the congressional granddaddy of all death panels was willing to throw to the sharks.

Trumpcare was never about getting decent health care to more people. The primary objective was to be Step One in getting government out of the public safety net business, including Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. No essential health care benefit was too essential to whack. If you were hoping for sky-high deductibles and insurance that wouldn’t cover anything you’re used to, Trumpcare was the plan for you.

That it would pave the way for huge tax cuts for the wealthiest among us was a side benefit: KochCare for plutocrats. KochCare was so vital that it didn’t matter that a huge slice of Trump’s “forgotten citizen” base would only have “access” to insurance they could never afford to purchase — “access” being a trick phrase akin to the freedom for everyone to sleep under a viaduct.

No one bats an eye at Utah’s requirement for all drivers to carry vehicle insurance. The societal cost of uninsured drivers is unacceptable. Universal health care coverage is even more necessary because no one, whatever our wealth or station in life, is immune from a catastrophic accident or illness, and the only way an insurance plan can be economically feasible is by spreading those coverage risks across the population as a whole. Until my party faces that reality, Trumpcare is just a brutal political game.

If Utah’s representatives in Congress, who all receive gold-plated health insurance at taxpayer expense, were really interested in improving the general welfare of most Utahns, they would tweak the ACA to make it a better way of serving the needs of more people at affordable rates, and get real about figuring out how to lower actual health care costs.

Utah’s Republican state legislators, many of whom were rooting for Trumpcare and KochCare, just enacted a 0.05 blood alcohol standard for drunk driving, in part based on the rationale that, “This is how it is in Europe.” Fair enough, but it should also be noted that various European nations do a better job of providing excellent and affordable health care for all their citizens (and often with better outcome rates) than is the norm here.

The overarching importance of KochCare to my party is underscored not only by its embrace of fake health care, but also by its embrace of policies that coddle the plutocrat class via skewed tax cuts, lax environmental regulations, more dangerous or discriminatory work place conditions, less consumer protection and more restrictions on the abilities of minorities to vote. My party’s infatuation with supply side economic theories, aka “a rising tide lifts all boats,” has created the greatest class divide since the 19th century’s Gilded Age, and KochCare demands even more. The Republican dissing of a Judge Merrick Garland in favor of a Judge Neil Gorsuch has nothing to do with equally superb judicial qualifications, but has everything to do with the former judge not being deemed radical enough to reliably nurture and grow KochCare.

Trumpcare and KochCare are so important to my party that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee (of which Utah’s Rep. Chris Stewart is a member) are falling all over themselves to not learn anything that might show inconvenient facts about the extent to which Trump campaign people (and maybe Trump) colluded with Russia in an effort to throw the U.S. election. Wow! Four papers of The Federalist speak to the primacy of the safety of the nation and the necessity of protecting it from foreign arms and influence.

Three cheers for the wag on NPR’s “Wait, Wait Don’t tell Me,” who said of the inane rumor about separate beds for the Trumps, “Melania couldn’t sleep because Putin snores!”

David R. Irvine is a Salt Lake City attorney, a former Republican legislator and a board member of Alliance for a Better Utah.

Read Salt Lake Tribune article here.

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