A report released Thursday entitled, “Lives on the Line: The Deadly Cost of Delaying Health Reform,” sheds light on the real moral issue at the heart of America’s national debate on health care: people needlessly dying because they don’t have access to preventive or primary medical care.
At a current rate of 68 deaths each and every day, the Families USA report cautions that without immediate action on health care reform, the body count will grow to a shocking 84 people a day in 2019: this is over 30,000 dead each year; a far more conservative estimate than the well-known Harvard study claiming 45,000 unnecessary deaths are happening each year.
Bottom line: not only are we facing an economic emergency in regard to our need for health care reform, but with this level of inhumanity and carnage associated with the status quo, for political actors to not face this head-on shows a certain moral depravity and unwillingness to break out of a political death spiral. As Republicans dissembled at the summit, they continued on their way down.
What every other Western democracy has succeeded at delivering to their citizens, Big Insurance, Big Pharma and Big Money have prevented here at home. Who cares if people die, as long as the bottom line and our contractual performance clauses are sated? Unfortunatly, only in America.
But I’ll make the argument that this is simply un-American. The blessings of modernity and medical science are not solely reserved for the wealthy, nor would the 18th century enlightenment principles that birthed our nation sanctify the presence of a mighty multi-national conglomerate divvying out life or death dictates strictly based on profits and compensation.
What depths have we let our peculiar fascination with market populism drive us to?
Even the vaunted Adam Smith, heralded as the ideological champion of “free markets” by Republicans, historians, and economists, had doubts about the moral capacity of corporate behavior; especially when incentives for “hurtfulness” were designed into the system.
Nick Robins’ book on the world’s first transnational, “The Corporation That Changed The World”, exposes a side of Adam Smith conveniently left out of most free-market ‘invisible hand’ evangel.
“In Smith’s opinion, the joint stock corporation was a deeply flawed piece of public policy. A particular danger was the impetus for hazardous speculation created by separation of ownership and management in the joint stock arrangement… As a result, ‘negligence and profusion must always prevail, more or less, in the management of the affairs of such a company’, simply becoming a vehicle for even more ..’malversion’.”
I think ‘malversion’ aptly describes the perverted and distorted form of the healing profession’s ethical mandate ‘to do no harm’, bent out of shape by moral zigzagging through corporate-profit minefield with a body count in the health insurance industry’s wake.
Another landmine exploded when we lost activist Melanie Shouse to the callous nature of an elitist for-profit health care system.
There is a thing called psychological numbing, which is a mental defense mechanism used to prevent psychological trauma. Denial.
People against health care choose to ignore these casualties on their face. Republicans offering deals that add a paltry 2 million to the health care rolls when 50 million are missing, are choosing to look the other way.
They are the priest and the Levite that pass by the beaten and robbed traveler.
As wiki says,
“A well-recognized situation of psychological numbing is that associated with killing another person. By being numb, the person refuses to recognize the implications of having killed the person, allowing their psyche, as it existed before, to continue as it was.”
We need to pass health care reform to save lives.
In the coming weeks, Congress will be transformed into a giant ER with tens of thousands of future victims lives hanging in the balance. It’s time to stop the talking points about ‘socialism’ and ‘government takeovers’ and face the fact that the unregulated private sector and free market profiteers, wallowing in monopolies and anti-trust, have enormously failed the American people.
What do we want? Health care.
When do we want it? Now.
(Byron is running for Missouri State Representative in the 79th District. He’s one of the good guys. If you’re in the area, this is a fine campaign to volunteer with. — Bob)