Your Say

Alternatives to cutting Obamacare funds for the medically needy

“When you say …you really need my money, I’ve had it, well I’ve had it!”

The Bell Tones

I was a County Commission Chairman and the head of my county Republican Party. I am a proven fiscal conservative who slashed the rate of annual tax increases from 10 percent to 1 percent. I cut government inefficiency and waste, but I also preserved or expanded programs that delivered a high level of quantitative benefits to our citizens. And, that is why I oppose Trumpcare.

Trumpcare, the AHCA, cuts Obamacare’s subsidies for working people, a major factor causing 23 million to lose insurance under Trumpcare. Trumpcare also gives a $600 million dollar tax cut to the wealthy and corporations. Is that who needs the money?

Trumpcare is not fiscally responsible simply because it cuts benefits for those in need of insurance while slyly giving the wealthy a tax break. That’s not acting conservatively. It is acting like Scrooge.

I am fed up with the double talk. I’ve had it with the hypocrisy of many of our political leaders who say they are compassionate and then vote like they are not, assuming the public will be oblivious. Is that what conservatives are supposed to do? Act like heartless reverse Robin Hoods, robbing the poor to give to the rich?

Of the leading nations of the world, we are the most religious. In the United Kingdom, for example, 66 percent of residents are either atheists or have no religion (Gallup, 2015). At the same time, no one is uninsured in the UK. Everyone gets health care under a national program similar to our VA.

Many European countries have a majority who claim no religion. But all of them cover everyone when it comes to health care, many through programs similar to Medicare but covering all ages. Why can’t we afford to do the same?

One reason is that we spend 4 percent of our GNP on the military, versus much lower rates in other nations. Canada is 1 percent, while European nations (sitting next to Russia, the world’s biggest threat to democracy) average well under 2 percent. In fact, we spend more on our military than the next seven nations combined. That includes China and Russia.

That reality is why it is so astounding that the Trump budget, as proposed, includes a 10 percent raise in the military budget? GOP Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., no liberal, has repeatedly questioned the need for our excessive defense expenditures.

Before he was co-opted, Mick Mulvaney (the current head of the Office of Management and Budget under Trump) also thought there was a lot of fat in the military budget when he was in the House. For example, he led the successful 2013 fight to cut the war budget and reducing it by $3.5 billion. He has also advocated maintaining caps on our military spending.

And, he is right. Why should we be the policeman of the world, taxing our citizens and receiving minimal returns? Is that the way to make America great again? Or, should we really put America first and spend our money on education, infrastructure and healthcare, things that directly benefit our own people?

With the lack of jobs for the less educated, safety net programs like Medicaid need expansion, not the $880 billion cut proposed under Trumpcare. Further, Medicare is one of the nation’s most efficient programs. It has overhead of 2 percent versus private insurance companies which average 12 percent.

Let’s have the Congressional Budget Office or a bi-partisan congressional committee study Medicare for all. What are the costs and benefits? Why is our health care cost per capita over $9,000 when Italy runs $3,000 with better mortality and morbidity rates and covers everyone?

In conclusion, there is no excuse for the mess the House approved as a health-care reform bill. Let's all hope the Senate can do a better job, being more forthcoming than they have been thus far, by looking at what works in other nations that have more effective health-care systems than we do.

Jack Bernard, the first director of Health Planning for Georgia, has been a senior executive with several national health care firms. A Republican, he’s a former chairman of the Jasper County Commission and Republican Party.