Tikkun Magazine



Stop the Assault on Health Care–Call Your Senator

Dear friends of social justice and an ethical society:

 

BACKGROUND

As you probably know, the Senate Republicans just released the draft of their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) – it should rightfully be called the Wealth Care Act. Here below are some of the highlights of the replacement bill showing its major problems (though some of this will be slightly modified as Republicans in the Senate are pushed to make cosmetic changes, though most of what is awful about their bill will remain the case even after the media plays up the slight changes that are likely to be made).

Like the bill recently passed by the House, the proposed Senate version would make very deep cuts to Medicaid, but the cuts would be greater than the $820 billion cut in the House version.  As with the House bill, the Senate version will likely result in more people not being insured.

  1. See this article from the New York Times that lists the benefits of Medicaid as it is currently structured. These benefits are likely at great risk if this bill becomes law.
  2. Like the bill passed by the House, the Senate version would provide a massive tax cut to the rich and corporations at the expense of low-income families and the middle class.
  3. This is what former President Obama had to say about the bill on Facebook: “The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else.

Even if you called your Senators before to oppose the repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act, please call again. Even if your Senators are Democrats (who are all opposed to this bill), please call them anyway since they need to know they have your support. If this bill becomes law as currently written, it will likely set a dangerous precedent, encouraging those in Congress who want to shred our social safety nets to attack Medicare, Social Security, and other important programs that protect our quality of life. If you hear that they have slightly modified their program in the coming days to include some minimal funding for Medicaid, it will still in its essence be an assault on the poor and their coverage and a trillion dollar tax reduction to the super-rich. To save our health care and help prevent further attacks on our social safety nets, please take the following actions:

1. Call your two senators at 202 224-3121

The following Senators, in particular need to hear from you. If you live in one of these states, please be sure to call your Senators.

  1. Heller is the most important (R-NV) (202) 224-6244
  2. Collins (R-ME) (202) 224-2523
  3. Murkowski (R-AK) (202) 224-6665
  4. Capito (R-WV) (202) 224-6472
  5. Cassidy (R-LA) (202) 224-5824
  6. Flake (R-AZ) (202) 224-4521
  7. Gardner (R-CO) (202) 224-5941
  8. Portman (R-OH) (202) 224-3353
  9. Cruz (R-TX) (202) 224-5922
  10. Paul (R-KY) (202) 224-4343
  11. Lee (R-UT) (202) 224-5444
  12. Sasse (R-NE) (202) 224-4224

Even if you do not live in one of the above states, please call your Senators anyway.

a. If they are Republicans, ask them to oppose the repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act and to oppose any cuts to Medicaid. Also ask them to save Obamacare and to move money from the military budget to improve it.

b. If they are Democrats, thank them for opposing the Republican repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act and for protecting Medicaid. Also ask them to support Medicare for Everyone – a universal coverage through a single payer system that already exists and works for social security retirees.

c. If you do not know your senators’ names or party affiliation, enter the following question in your search engine: Who are the 2 U.S. Senators from the state of [here place name of your state] and what are their political parties?

2. Call the White House Comment line at 202 456-1111, or if the line is busy, go to the White House comment web site at www.whitehouse.gov/contact and tell President Trump:

a. To oppose the Republican repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act.

b. To oppose any cuts to Medicaid. And to oppose giving each state the ability to cut Medicaid, which de facto would give the majority of states, now governed by Republican legislatures and governors, the ability to eliminate Medicaid to the poor who most need it, including retirees and people now in nursing homes.

c. To save Obamacare and to move money from the military budget or to improve it and support a single payer Medicare-For-All approach to universal health care funded by taxing the wealthy rather than making coverage for poor and middle-income people impossible.

3. Forward this email to your families and friends all over the nation, post it on Facebook and ask them to do the same.

4. If calling during the workday is not convenient, you can call your two senators after hours or on the weekend and leave a message on their voice mails.

5.  At the end of this email see links to additional articles that provide further details on the Senate bill.

Thank you for taking this little action on behalf of those who are likely to suffer most from this hurtful new policy direction.

 

ANALYSIS

 

We at Tikkun and the NSP (Network of Spiritual Progressives) don’t usually get involved in supporting or opposing legislation–our task is to change the psychodynamics, worldviews, religious and spiritual beliefs, economic systems, and fears that lead people to support humanly and environmentally destructive economic and political policies or to justify to themselves the vast economic and political inequalities in our world.

Tikkun and the NSP challenge all those aspects of thought, ‘common sense’ and the structures of daily life that generate selfishness, materialism and the primacy of ‘looking out for number one.’ Our goal is to assist all the various liberal and progressive social change movements to develop as integral to their own specific struggles a worldview shared by all of them—and a consciousness raising practice which moves people beyond the specific topics that their organization addresses so that they can begin to see how what they are seeking requires a new way of thinking about the world and a willingness to challenge the current ethos of selfishness and materialism that leads so many good people to give up on social change. We need to popularize a new consciousness raising about the ways our current society promotes values that undermine what people care most about—friendships, loving relationships, family, and life that has a higher meaning than the accumulation of money or power. We need to help people overcome their sense of powerlessness and help them develop a strong sense of entitlement to live in a world that is not only economically and environmentally just, but also nourishes our capacities to be caring, sensitive, and generous toward ourselves and each other. It was a similar kind of consciousness raising which made it possible for feminists to fundamentally challenge the patriarchal assumptions that used to be seen as ‘common sense’ and impossible to change and that led to dramatic changes in the way gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people are treated, and could lead to a whole new way of thinking which would transform politics as well as our daily life experiences.

In 2009 we predicted that Obamacare would lead people to become angry because of its failure to set price controls over health care insurance, medical services, and pharmaceuticals. Even today Congressional Dems refuse to unite around the only plausible alternative: “Medicare For Everyone,” the single-payer plan that Physicians for a National Health Program have supported for decades which is part of the platform of our Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP) and has majority support in polls of the American people. During the debates on Obamacare, liberals argued that it is “better to settle for something than get nothing.” But that strategy often backfires and did in this instance. Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, now Chicago mayor but in 2006 the Congressman in charge of the Democratic Party Congressional campaign, relying on the same short-term thinking as Obama, recruited center-right Dems to run for Congress in the 2006 election (even though given people’s weariness of George W. Bush’s war in Iraq, the flagrant violations of human rights, and the freedom granted to corporations and banks to exploit Americans made it extremely likely that Democrats would have retaken control of the Congress even if they had run progressives instead of center-rightists). But given that choice, Obama faced a Democratic majority in Congress that would not have supported Medicare for Everyone.

If Obama had instead spent his first two years as president building support for universal healthcare and a few other important measures (e.g., a constitutional amendment to get money out of politics, a massive program to bail out millions of Americans who had lost their homes to the banks instead of bailing out the banks and Wall Street investment firms, and a foreign policy based on generosity rather than the ‘homeland security through domination’ which then led to his escalating the war in Afghanistan) he would have been in position to challenge the worldview of the Republicans and even to seek to run some progressive candidates against the Democrats in Congress who would have blocked a proposal for Medicare for Everyone.

Thinking in terms of fighting for what you really believe in, and being willing to lose elections rather than give up your central principles is so far from the consciousness of liberals and many elected Democrats that they continue to fight for programs that don’t really solve much. Republicans, on the other hand, do stand for some basic principles and continue to fight for them unabashedly for the past 40 years. These include, among other things, defunding government so as to allow the super-rich to get richer and removing environmental, worker or human rights restrictions on corporations so they can maximize profits. This persistent strategy has brought Republicans into power in the statehouses, the Congress and now the presidency and Supreme Court. Their victories, however, have been made possible not only by fighting for what they believe but also because the liberal and progressive world has so consistently shamed and blamed people who are not yet with us. Please read “The Psychodynamics of the 2016 Election.”

But despite all that, and despite that liberals have so consistently been liberal about their own liberalism, we nevertheless have to stand up and fight against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, even though it is a deeply flawed program, because in the meantime its repeal would badly hurt so many people, so many of us, and so many of our friends, neighbors, and others. The bill just passed by the Senate, and a similar one that already passed the House not only repeals Obamacare, it goes much further to both dismantle Medicaid (including for the elderly, those with mental health needs, the disabled) and to provide massive tax cuts to the wealthiest amongst us.

Such a fight would be far more effective, however, if we simultaneously acknowledged the faults of the Obamacare, and affirmed that our real commitment is to start over with Medicare for everyone (perhaps phased in so that the first year Medicare was extended to people 55-65, the second year to people 40-55, the third year to everyone 25-40, and the fourth year extended to everyone not yet covered as well as to cover long-term care).

Instead of framing our struggle in favor of Obamacare, it should be in favor of Medicare for all, but keeping Obamacare until we get Medicare for all.

 

Warm regards and blessings,

Michael

Rabbi Michael Lerner,

Chair, The Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP)

 

Additional Articles:

NEW: NBC NEWS - Medical Groups Hate the GOP Health Care Plans June 23 2017

NEW: NEW YORK TIMES - Senate Health Plan Falls Short of Promise for Cheaper Care Experts Say June 24 2017

NEW YORK TIMESSenate Health Care Bill Includes Deep Cuts to Medicaid June 22 2017

ASSOCIATED PRESS How the Senate health bill compares to House Obamacare June 23 2017

(Cover image courtesy of Costculator.)

Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun, co-chair with Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without-Walls in San Francisco and Berkeley, California. He is the author of eleven books, including two national bestsellers—The Left Hand of God and Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation. His most recent book, Embracing Israel/Palestine, is available on Kindle from Amazon.com and in hard copy from tikkun.org/eip. He welcomes your responses and invites you to join with him by joining the Network of Spiritual Progressives (membership comes with a subscription to Tikkun magazine). You can contact him at rabbilerner.tikkun@gmail.com.
 
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