“What did I do? I did my job. I slashed benefits to the bone; I saved this company money. Was I too harsh? Maybe. I don’t believe in coddling people.”
No, that wasn’t from a U.S. Congress member discussing whether or not to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That was from a 2005 episode of The Office, when Dwight Schrute is given the responsibility of picking a healthcare plan for Dunder Mifflin’s employees. It sounds like something that politicians — especially lately — would actually say though, right?
The recent healthcare debate that’s permeated the American political landscape has not felt far away from the antics of Dwight — matters of life and death have been used as polarizing political pawns in an era of great uncertainty for not only the future of the Affordable Care Act, but for our identity as a nation.
The ideological differences between those both for and against the Affordable Care Act (ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare, which was based on Romneycare in Massachusetts), could not have been more clean than in Wednesday night’s CNN-sponsored debate, entitled “The Future of Healthcare.”
The debate featured 2016 presidential runner-ups Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz, who spoke for over an hour and a half on policy and the heart of the divide when it comes to healthcare. To their credit, that was all they talked about — there were no personal jabs, mention of grabbing genitalia, or enhancement of body parts. It sadly was a refreshing reminder of how a political debate is supposed to be.
There were even instances of compromise — an almost forgotten concept recently — with both men agreeing that there is no reason prescriptions that can be purchased cheaper from other countries can’t be brought to America, and that wait-time for drug approval by the FDA can be cut down. They also expressed their joint disdain of insurance companies who care more about profits than patients.
Now to their differences, and to the divide amongst many Americans.
Ted Cruz wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and give Americans choices when it comes to their healthcare by providing an open marketplace amongst private insurance companies. Bernie Sanders argued for as single-payer system, similar to those in Canada and much of Europe, where healthcare is a right of every person, regardless of income and preexisting conditions.
Sanders was challenged on the struggle small businesses face to provide insurance for their employees, while Cruz had to answer to what Republicans plan to replace the ACA with, what happens to people with preexisting conditions, and whether or not birth control will be covered.
Turns out, a single-payer system, while it would cause increased taxes, would allow people with current and unknown preexisting conditions to maintain coverage, would not label all women as having a preexisting condition because of their potential to have a baby, and would promise that all Americans have access to decent care.
While promising to be a friend to small businesses and provide a wider variety of healthcare plans, private-based insurance — at least in the plans set out thus far by this Congress as a replacement of the ACA — fail to guarantee that average Americans will be able to afford them. And the lack of a solid plan is what is frightening.
Bottom line: healthcare is personal. No system is perfect. But surely, having no plan is deadly, for all of us.
Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.