The justice department is now working through the court system to bring about President Trump's goal of total repeal. This effort will most likely end up in the Supreme Court where the conservative justices outnumber the liberal justices by 5 to 4.
So, if you have a pre-existing condition, or if your children are on your health care plan as they approach 26, you are probably in a panic. Health care will be the defining issue in the 2020 election, especially considering the push for Medicare for all by some Democrats running for president.
I do not know a person over age 65 who does not love Medicare. Shouldn't something that popular and effective be available to more than our elderly? The Founding Fathers in the Constitution wrote: "We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare." Wouldn't a government guarantee of universal health care unify us (the rich today get excellent health care; the poor not so much), give all citizens peace of mind and "promote the general welfare"?
About 54 million of us have pre-existing conditions, including 27 percent of the elderly. The uninsured under the Affordable Care Act has diminished by tens of millions. So we are facing a national crisis of conscience.
The CEO of Blue Cross of Michigan makes over $19 million per year. The CEOs of all the major insurance companies make millions annually. In my view, those outrageous salaries are fueling the argument to get rid of the private insurance companies in favor of Medicare for all.
The best argument for universal coverage is the potential savings of the cost of health care per citizen, which is now $10,000 as compared to about $5,000 in other industrialized countries. Drug prices in Canada are about a third of what they are here.
The president ran on a promise to let the government negotiate drug prices for its programs. That is another broken promise.
Some argue that the universal health systems in Canada and England are unpopular. Having recently spent weeks in both countries, I can tell you this is not so. The people in those countries love their health care!
The best argument for Medicare for all is peace of mind for our population. Medicare for all is morally the right thing to do.
But, as a fiscal conservative, I always want to know how we are going to pay for it. Obviously, we will need to raise taxes. On the other hand, businesses and families and individuals would no longer have hefty health care insurance premiums and medical expenses, which are now bankrupting millions of us.
In the Episcopal Church, the cost of health care insurance for a minister and his or her family is around $30,000 annually, and in some parts of the country much more. Churches are like small businesses, which face similar costs. Such expenses are not sustainable for small or even larger churches, not to speak of all the small businesses in West Michigan.
Our entire tax structure needs to be revamped, especially if we are going to pay for Medicare for all. The Trump tax cut has put us into a terrible deficit position. Of course, there is much government spending waste, which also needs to be examined. We always seem to find the money for war and defense (although such costs have greatly contributed to our deficit spending).
If we consider ourselves a moral society, isn't providing universal health care the morally right thing to do? We used to uphold what we called "the common good.": When was the last time you heard that preached on a Sunday morning, or a Friday or Saturday?
Maybe we take the first step with a public option, letting people under 65 buy into Medicare. Although I am in favor right now of Medicare for all.
Doing nothing — in the face of the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act — is not an option. Millions of people will die, as many are now dying because they cannot afford the high prices of drugs or medical care.
The election of 2020 will be a test of our moral conscience.
— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune community columnist