Brilliant and Cruel: the GOP Push to Kill the Unfit and Non-Productive

Brilliant and Cruel: the GOP Push to Kill the Unfit and Non-Productive September 21, 2017

cropped handicap parking placard sign of unfit and non-productiveI’m afraid of being found permanently unfit and so non-productive as to have no value. I fight to return to my normal tasks, my usual level of output.

My new morning routine: I wake slowly, reluctantly. Eventually, I send my hand to find my cane, sit up and carefully put my foreign-feeling foot in its strange boot on the floor. I search with my still functioning foot for the one shoe that makes me relatively level when standing.

Balancing carefully, I hobble down the hall to the bathroom big enough to hold the handicap seat over the toilet.

Later, I can see if my husband can help me deal with the shower challenges or if I need to stick to a sponge bath for my morning grooming routine. Either takes about four times longer than usual; either leaves me worn out and needing rest.

All comes from a major foot surgery a few weeks ago.

Even so, between my cane and my knee-cart and my handicap tag for the car, I know that my sojourn into the world of the disabled is limited. While there is another surgery still to face, I probably have only six months total without my usual full mobility.

I am genuinely afraid of being found unfit and non-productive

However, for now, I live in a radically different world. It’s frustrating. My lack of productivity bothers me a great deal. Even though my husband lovingly does all I ask, I hate asking. The first night I made it to the toilet by myself, he was appalled–worried that I could have fallen and hurt myself. My response, a semi-joking, “I big girl now. I do it myself.”

I fight to return to my regular tasks, my usual level of output. Deep inside I am genuinely afraid. I’m fear being found “unworthy” or “without quality of life.”

Hitler gives written permission to kill the incurably kill.
Hitler’s written permission to kill the incurably ill. Public domain image, courtesy of Wikipedia.

And then I saw this piece about the fact that the Nazis first took out the ill and less physically abled before starting on the Jews. It’s a short and chilling piece. Read it if you can get to it.

If not, below is a short snippet. The author, himself unable to walk because he was born without the normal leg bone structure, is speaking with a neurologist about the Nazi death camps and the use experimentation with the Aktion T4 program.

The neurologist does not know much about what I’m telling him. While he does know that approximately 300,000 disabled people were killed in T4 and its aftermath, he doesn’t know about the direct connection between T4 and the Holocaust. He doesn’t know that it was at Brandenburg, the first T4 site, where methods of mass killing were tested, that the first victims of Nazi mass killings were the disabled, and that its personnel went on to establish and run the extermination camps at Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor.

Yes, the Nazis practiced efficient killing methods on the less physically and mentally able. They honed their skills there and then went on to systemically exterminate others deemed unworthy to live.

The Graham-Cassidy Bill: cruelly and brilliantly eliminate the unfit and non-productive

And now, the US stands on the verge of following that pattern. I had thought that the need to repeal the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) had burned itself out this summer. The ACA, no matter how flawed it is–and it does very much need repair–has also made health insurance and thus decent health-care far, far more affordable to millions.

The latest replacement proposal, the Graham-Cassidy Bill, is a step down even from the one horrible bill passed by the House in May and the one horrible bill already defeated by the Senate. After an intense search to find an understandable summary of the bill’s provisions, it appears that this one from NPR, comparing the three bills, seems to be the best.

Keep this chilling fact in mind:  “States are encouraged to seek waivers that would allow insurers to charge more money to those with pre-existing medical conditions.”

Translation: Everyone might have “access” to health insurance but anyone with a pre-existing condition, that is, any medical ailment for which a person has received either treatment or advice before applying for insurance, can be charged unaffordable amounts of money. That was the genius behind the ACA: the same rates were applied to everyone BECAUSE everyone, including the young and healthy, had to purchase insurance, thus spreading the risk. When only the sick purchase health insurance, the premiums become prohibitively high.

As CNN puts it, Graham-Cassidy:

Loosens Obamacare’s regulations regarding pre-existing conditions: The bill would also waive several key Obamacare protections for those with pre-existing conditions. While it would still require insurers to provide coverage to everyone, it would allow carriers to charge enrollees more based on their medical history. So younger, healthier folks could see their premiums go down, but sicker Americans could find themselves priced out of policies.

The legislation also would eliminate Obamacare’s essential health benefits provision, which mandates insurers cover an array of services, including hospitalization, maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health and substance abuse services. This could lower premiums somewhat and give consumers a wider choice of plans. But it would also make it harder for people to buy comprehensive policies so those with pre-existing conditions may not be able to find coverage that meets their health care needs.

Translation: If you have ever been diagnosed with anything, and you make a middle-class income, you probably won’t be able to afford insurance. According to this site, these are the major pre-existing conditions that will make your premiums go sky-high:

  • Alcohol or drug abuse with recent treatment
  • Alzheimer’s/dementia
  • Anorexia
  • Arthritis
  • Bulimia
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Coronary artery/heart disease, bypass surgery
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Hemophilia
  • Hepatitis
  • Kidney disease, renal failure
  • Lupus
  • Mental disorders (including Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Schizophrenia)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Obesity
  • Organ transplant
  • Paraplegia
  • Paralysis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Pending surgery or hospitalization
  • Pneumocystic pneumonia
  • Pregnancy or expectant parent (includes men)
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stroke
  • Transsexualism

Finally, check out the New York Times Summary:

It is hard to overstate the cruelty of the Graham-Cassidy bill. It would eliminate the mandate that even healthy people buy health insurance, end the subsidies that help people purchase coverage and stop the expansion of Medicaid. It would offer states block grants they could use to help people get insurance but would leave people at the mercy of individual state legislatures and, over all, would provide $239 billion less than what the federal government would spend under current law between 2020 and 2026, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Slower and crueler than the Nazi plan

So, here we have it: the elimination procedure will be slower and even crueler than the Nazi program. Our current government, with its GOP majority, has every intention of making sure that the non-productive and unfit, especially those lacking in financial resources, will stay sick and suffer early and needlessly painful deaths.

Yes, cruel. Why brilliant? The legislators who support this will innocently say, “What do you mean, you can’t get health care? Every insurance company in the nation will be delighted to sell you a plan [that will cost 70% of your income and still not cover essential needs]!”

Personally, although opposition to the bill continues to grow, I think it is going to pass. We have taken, as a country, a pivotal move to a near total “Me first” society. Yes, the buzz word is “America First” but all that means is, “no one ultimately counts except me.”

What are our options?

First, of course, make a few phone calls and express your dismay to your elected officials. As always, do this courteously but firmly. Ask for specifics as to how they see coverage working in their particular state for those with pre-existing conditions.

Second, do all you can to preserve your health. Eat right (eliminate sugar especially), exercise, get enough sleep and fresh air.

Third, since health care is central to so many, work to educate yourself as to reasonable alternatives, especially before the next election. Please be aware that the push for a “single-payer” or “Medicare-for-all” plan only means “Government controlled healthcare” and has an even far greater set of problems attached to it than our current broken system.

There are alternatives, but they are all complex. Anyone who suggests there is a simple solution to this mess is either egregiously lying or dangerously ignorant. Don’t buy into it. Change will have to be incremental and well-thought through. Fixing the ACA should be the priority for the next few years. It does work, but there are significant problems with the funding and structure right now.

Fourth, let us examine ourselves and how we have degenerated from some sense of moral world leadership, however flawed, into this moral morass of refusing to care for our neighbors in any way. Remember, once “they” have eliminated everyone else, they’ll come for you as well.

This, in my opinion, is the vital role of the church in this debate. Let us who call ourselves people of faith show in as many ways as we can the importance of the common interest. We, above all, need to tell the stories of the power of the poor, the less physically-abled, the “unfit” of society. We, above all, need to explain what “quality of life” really means.

Fifth, be active players in the political scene. Assuming this does pass, it the 2018 elections can swing this in another direction. Question all candidates about their understanding and hopes for the health of US citizens. Inquire about their knowledge of the stakes involved. If you are one of the lucky ones who will not be negatively affected by this bill, you (and I) carry a responsibility to help those who are affected. Let us do so faithfully and tirelessly.

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  • Erin Reeves – McMillan

    I find it hard to take you seriously when you equate a GOP healthcare bill to the Nazi’s murder of hundreds of thousands of people who had disabilities of some kind. This is hyperbole at its finest. It’s very unhelpful.

    I appreciate that you are honest about the incredible complexity of any healthcare system. I live in a country that has public healthcare. It has both good and bad points. The bottom line is that healthcare is expensive and will always be expensive. Everyone needs to have access to healthcare, but someone has to pay for it. The ACA was written in such a way that it is extremely difficult to correct; it was pushed through the Congress by politicians who didn’t read it; and now these same politicians won’t act to fix or replace it. The lawmakers on both sides need to hear from the electorate that we want this sorted out in a bipartisan bill. That’s the only way that the fix will benefit people in need of occasional or ongoing healthcare.

    • Chuck Johnson

      I find it hard to take you seriously when you equate a GOP healthcare
      bill to the Nazi’s murder of hundreds of thousands of people who had
      disabilities of some kind.-Erin

      So I will make it simple for you.
      Christy deplores laws that provide excellent healthcare for the rich, and inadequate (sometimes lethally inadequate ) healthcare for the not-so-rich.

      The marvels of modern medical science have created these new moral decisions that we must deal with.

      • Erin Reeves – McMillan

        So, Chuck, she couldn’t make that point without bringing the Nazi’s systematic and deliberate killing of people who had disabilities into it? These kinds of exaggerated and ridiculous arguments are why people are no longer capable of reasoned debate. Most of her – I’m assuming – target audience (those who agree with the GOP bill) wouldn’t ever make it to her best points because the Nazi comparison would totally put them off.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I think that they would be put off.
          Her attitude is alarmist.
          She seems to be imagining some kind of “slippery slope” here.

          • Erin Reeves – McMillan

            I agree.

        • newpolitiq7

          There are some alarming (and not entirely un-reasoned) points made in this piece, which may inform some of the author’s concerns: When I watched armed Capitol police physically removing many wheelchair-bound protesters at the only hearing being held on this latest travesty of a “healthcare” bill today, this piece’s warnings seemed more plausible. Wheelchair-bound folks, whose very lives depend on the Medicaid programs that would be eviscerated by this rendition of Trumpcare, were chanting mournful and angry slogans which proved their fear of this encroaching challenge to their very existence. It wasn’t a proud moment for me as an American citizen, to see my fellow citizens greeted with handcuffs, rather than an audience with their Senator. We’re better than this, aren’t we? We should be ashamed of proposed “healthcare” programs that deal with “the least of these” in such a reprehensible manner.

        • Sophotroph

          Taking healthcare away from people who need it IS systematic and deliberate killing of people with disabilities.

          It just takes a bit longer.

  • jekylldoc

    Convince enough people that “somebody else” will do the suffering, and the country is usually willing to opt for the heartless approach. But I wonder how many are willing to gamble on never getting diabetes or cancer, and their children never becoming bulimic or depressed? It’s no wonder the alleged party of the majority is doing all it can to sneak these bills past without any attention, analysis or comment.

  • Reese

    Another liberal rant without merit. Obamacare is now eliminating people because the costs are so outrageous and insurance companies are backing out. But, a liberal would rather whine about improvements to a broken system and compare a business approach, with STATES handling the money rather than the inept, corrupt Feds. And to compare the changes to the Nazis is typical and laughable. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy watching languishing liberals, sniffling snowflakes, and delusional dems suffer the realities of truth and real Trump action. MAGA! P.S. Wasn’t Trump’s UN speech awesome?!?!

    • Ivan T. Errible

      Why the assumption that the states aren’t corrupt? You don’t think that what happens in Washington doesn’t happen in Trenton or Albany or Austin or Sacramento or Atlanta?
      The only “real Trump action” is golf.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Wasn’t Trump’s UN speech awesome?!?!-Reese

      Trump is a halfwit.
      Reese is a halfwit.

    • Lynne Gillooly

      Obamacare is the plan written by the Heritage Foundation backed by the GOP and Bob Dole .Romney implemented it in MA. The main problem with it is it keeps” for profit “insurance in the middle sucking up billions out of the system. Prior to the ACA insurance companies did whatever they wanted and many Americans went bankrupt or died due to the abusive behavior of private insurers. Now the GOP wants to take the ACA protections away from patients again. Your post makes it obvious that you do not understand the benefits of the ACA and the reasons why it is having trouble. If the GOP Governors all took the medicaid expansion and participated in the exchanges it would be going much better. They never wanted it to work because their wealthy donors did not like getting taxed to help subsidize the cost. Just change the name to Trumpcare and stop sabotaging it. You will love it then.

    • newpolitiq7

      While Trump definitely enjoys the sound of his own voice (witness 90-minutes of insufferable, nonsensical blathering in Huntsville recently), his U.N. Speech was one of the worst. Loved Corey’s piece in this posting of Patheos:

    • Linda Coleman Allen

      Congratulations! You have just exposed your ignorance to anyone reading this blog. You have no idea how to improve things, so you resort to ridiculing people who really do care. YOU are what is wrong with this country.

    • Sophotroph

      You forgot “/s”

  • Tom Murdock

    Can we build on the discussion started? Important accessible links add facts (yes real facts) to the complex problem. While doing that, please don’t disregard Medicare for All. The government involvement is payment, not healthcare control. Money can be saved. Entrepreneurs can leave large companies to start their small businesses knowing that their families will have healthcare. Love one another. Don’t let generations of the poor be cast away.

  • Icefishinglady

    I must take exception to the author’s criticism of single payer/”Medicare for All”. Nearly all industrialized countries now have such a plan – with lower costs and better outcomes. Highly recommended: Check out Wendell Potter’s book, “Deadly Spin”: ‘And if you were persuaded that the health care reform bill President Barack Obama signed into law in March 2010 was “a government takeover of the health care system,” my former colleagues and I earned every penny of our handsome salaries. Not to mention our bonuses.’ Potter was a senior PR executive for Humana and CIGNA; he became a whistleblower.

    • newenglandsun

      In Britain, your children are the government’s children. YAY!

  • Linda Coleman Allen

    Good article Christy. It is a very scary time for those of us who will be negatively impacted by these proposed changes.

  • David Boyle

    Sometimes we don’t know a good thing until its gone. I hope something can change in the hearts and minds of our congress men and women. Everybody needs healthcare and especially those with pre-existing conditions. It’s sad to know how people are going to be overcharged for the same insurance. All of us have flaws so its disappointing to know that the visible flaws out weigh those that are unseen

  • newenglandsun

    It is small government solutions vs. big government solutions. The Nazis would have actually regulated the healthcare industry which is what Obamacare already does and what the Graham-Cassidy bill would have done.
    Health insurance is not healthcare. ER doctors are required to see a patient regardless of their health insurance coverage already and that would continue. The bill comes later.

  • Lucile Barker

    I have Crohns and asthma. My meds list price is expensive. I have flares and have to be hospitalized. But I am in Ontario, Canada, and I am safe. My “Socialized Medicine” enabled me to work until almost 70 which meant I was paying in for preemie babies, over confident skate boarders, depressed young people, diabetics, and addicts. There is a term, “collective responsibility,” that seems to have been forgotten. That senior in a subsidized nursing home bed could be me in two years, that preemie baby my great-grandchild, that alcoholic an uncle or nephew. The Downs baby can grow up to be a worker in your local grocery store, or someone who can participate in community gardening. Until we are taught that we are responsible for each other, we will allow all kinds of atrocities to be committed in our name. I am not a religious person by any standard, but until we are our brother’s keeper, we will be faced with situations like American health care, abandoned refugees, and working families at food banks. We can and must do better.