As the sun reaches toward its summer zenith in the northern sky, it will be important for us to check our true north as well. We must do so. This year, our 2018 elections will present an exceptional opportunity for us to change the course of our national government. Clearly, we want this new course to reflect our shared values rooted fundamentally in social justice and human concerns.
We share broad agreement that the U.S. Congress went badly off the tracks in 2017 by proposing multiple health reform bills that would have harmed severely our most vulnerable citizens. State Medicaid programs would have been cut dramatically, seniors and disabled persons would have paid many-times higher insurance premiums, and some key Essential Health Benefits would have become optional at state election. In other legislation, the Congress actually succeeded in eliminating the health insurance mandate, which will have the net effect of raising insurance premiums for most of us.
Similar efforts were made by the administration to sell junk insurance, the so-called short term policies, set aside cost sharing for the poorest who are insured under the state health insurance marketplaces, and generally to roil the health insurance market with needless and destructive unpredictability.
These draconian actions simply are unacceptable. They do not reflect what America stands for, who we are, or who we want to become. They are fundamentally antithetical to our core human values.
I hope that our collective outrage at these actions will motivate us to become literate and activated in the 2018 elections. We must replace those elected officials at all levels whose actions betray a lack of fundamental human empathy.
For each candidate running for a national, state, county, or city office, we will want to ask ourselves some key questions:
- Does this candidate support the principle that good health and wellbeing are personal rights that cannot be abrogated or diminished?
- Does this candidate support the principle that all people are to be valued equally?
- Does this candidate support the principle that we must take national action to pursue better health and wellbeing for all?
The first inalienable right inscribed in the Declaration of Independence is the right to life. Promotion of the general welfare is a key rationale provided in the Preamble to our Constitution that birthed the United States of America. Thus, both of our foundation documents provide a very strong legal basis for our core values and questions.
A key approach to effective political action is to collaborate and to partner with others who share our values and goals. We can identify these affinity groups as they become active, and we can form strong alliances with them.
Our collective ability to defeat Congressional action on the four terrible health reform bills of 2017 was based on almost universal participation in the Protect Our Care Coalition. The coalition included insurers, hospitals, physicians, nurses, behavioral health providers, consumer advocacy groups and all key voices supporting social justice.
We can and must do this again in 2018. Please join us now.