How ‘ac­cess’ be­came a dirty word

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Watch­ing the re­cent con­gres­sional cabi­net hear­ings, I can’t help but be con­cerned about the Repub­li­can cabi­net nom­i­nees and the stand­ing speak­ers’ use and mean­ing of the word “ac­cess” when it comes to health care cov­er­age for Amer­i­cans.

Un­der the cur­rent sys­tem, the Af­ford­able Care Act, there is ver­i­ta­ble uni­ver­sal cov­er­age for all Amer­i­cans, free for the in- di­gent and sub­si­dies for the work­ing poor. Now, I think we can all agree the cur­rent law has some se­ri­ous flaws, as it has driven up in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums in some in­stances and many in­sur­ance providers have de­clined to par­tic­i­pate given the cap on the sub­si­dies they are re­ceiv­ing. So then, where do we go from here?

The pres­i­dent has said that all Amer­i­cans will be cov­ered by health in­sur­ance with the Repub­li­can re­place­ment of Oba­macare. Con­versely, the in­com­ing head of the Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, Thomas Price; the ma­jor­ity leader in the Se­nate, Sen. Mitch McCon­nell (R-Ky.); and our speaker of the house have coun­tered the pres­i­dent with a pro­posal to of­fer all Amer­i­cans “ac­cess” to health care. Just in case you’re not re­ally sure what that means, Sen. Bernie San­ders (I-Vt.) de­fined “ac­cess to” as akin to hav­ing ac­cess to a $10 mil­lion man­sion but no money to buy it.

Fur­ther, a con­gres­sional aide to McCon­nell was quoted re­cently as say­ing, “We would like to get to a point where we have what we call uni­ver­sal ac­cess, where every­body is able to ac­cess cov­er­age to some de­gree or another.”

“To some de­gree or another” — does that give you a warm fuzzy?

Bot­tom line: The “Ele­phant Party” party has only re­cently started to in­clude “re­place” with its in­ces­sant chants for “re­peal” re­gard­ing Oba­macare. Its orig­i­nal po­si­tion was sum­ma­rized and de­fined re­cently by rightwing talk show host Rush Lim­baugh. Rush stated that health care should be treated just like any other com­mod­ity, mean­ing the price and ac­cess to health care should be de­ter­mined by the mar­ket­place.

Sadly, it’s more likely this “re­place” change in strat­egy was driven more by a fear of voter re­tal­i­a­tion at the polls than it was by some sud­den in­fu­sion of com­pas­sion into the party’s plat­form.

Mean­while, I guess we’ll have to wait and see how they will even­tu­ally de­fine what they mean by the word “ac­cess.” David J. Reed, Lusby

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