Letter to the Editor: American Holocaust

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Dear Editor:

It’s time to end our American Holocaust. It’s time to provide healthcare for all Americans – as a right not a privilege.  Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France and Switzerland are just a few that do.

Over the past year and a half there has been a vigorous debate over the Affordable Care Act – better known as Obamacare. Under any other name Democrats and Republicans would have worked together to strengthen it – not to tear it down. Unfortunately, despite millions of words – for and against – very few speakers have touched on the primary reason why universal healthcare is a moral imperative.

Prior to the implementation of Obamacare the Harvard Medical School reached the startling conclusion that 45,000 Americans die each year because they are among the millions of Americans that can’t afford health insurance. At the time of their study approximately 46 million Americans fell into this category. Today, approximately 20 million men, woman and children are covered under Obamacare reducing this senseless, disgraceful death toll by almost half.

Using 9/11 as a benchmark – over the course of the past 15 years almost 500,000 uninsured Americans have died because their lives didn’t matter. That’s more than World War II and Vietnam combined. And in a few short years the total will reach the number killed during the Civil War – the deadliest in our history. It should come as no surprise that the poor, elderly, mentally ill, drug addicted and children are the most vulnerable. Who speaks on their behalf? What political clout do they have? It’s pretty obvious … they were, and still are, the forgotten Americans.

If you think that it’s going a little too far to call this our American Holocaust, then what should we call it? I’m sure for those who have been left behind it is a holocaust to them. They live it day to day. Unlike the majority of Americans who have health insurance through their employer, Medicare, Medicaid or the VA, they are just one illness away from losing their homes to bankruptcy – over 700,000 a year; having to choose between a life saving drug or food on the table; or living with chronic pain or an untreated, terminal illness. Problems that the citizens of those countries that provide universal healthcare don’t have.

Whether or not the Republicans had been able to pass their health care legislation, 24 million Americans would still have been left out. And, tragically, over 20,000 Americans will continue to die this year and every year thereafter until the killing stops.

Since 9/11 less than 100 Americans have died in terrorist attacks both home and abroad. Whenever an attack does occur it receives round-the-clock coverage in the media. Politicians of both parties vow to increase the budget for defense and homeland security without blinking an eye. In stark contrast, 20,000 die each year because they can’t afford health insurance and who speaks up except Bernie Sanders? Let’s be honest – it’s a stain on our moral character.

Trump would call the above statistics “fake news.” At a campaign rally he would point to the press and call them “the most dishonest people in the world.” Amid shouts of approval, the audience would breakout in a chorus of “USA, USA, USA.”  If ignorance is bliss, Trump wins hands down.

Unfortunately for Trump we live in the real world. Not only do we spend more on healthcare than any other country in the world our outcomes are not something to write home about. Here are some facts:

  1. On a per capita basis the United States spends $9,024 per year – more than twice the average for other developed countries.
  2. In terms of life expectancy we rank 31st at 79.3 years.
  3. We rank 45th in terms of infant mortality at 6.5 deaths per 1,000 under 5 years of age. he worldwide average is 4.3 per 1,000.

For comparison, let’s look to our neighbor to the north. Canada spends $4,506 per capita – less than half of our total of $9,024. Canadians live an average of 82.2 years vs. 79.3 years for Americans. It’s the same story regarding infant mortality – 4.9 per 1.,000 vs. 6.5 for the United States.

It’s not a pretty picture … we spend twice as much per capita as Canada, but in terms of life expectancy and infant mortality, we come in second. And don’t forget, not a single Canadian dies from a lack of health insurance and the number of bankruptcies due to healthcare expenses is a big fat zero.

So much for “American Exceptionalism.”

So, can we afford to provide health insurance coverage for all Americans? Sally Cooper of Lewisburg hit the nail on the head in her letter to the editor last week: “Please, Senators Manchin and Capito do not vote to fund instruments of war but those of peace.”

Again, let’s look at some facts: we spend over $660 billion a year on the defense department vs. $129.4 billion for China and $70 billion for Russia. In other words more than five times than China and nine times for Russia. When you add Canada and the other NATO countries of Europe you have a combined total of $918,258 billion – eight times more than China and 13 times Russia. And, don’t forget the Warsaw Pact is dead and both China and Russia lack allies like NATO to back them up.

My challenge to Senators Manchin and Capito is a simple one … stop the killing. Convince your colleagues in the House and Senate that anything less than universal healthcare will be a tragedy of unspeakable proportions. The recent House plan would have left 24 million Americans without coverage. How can any member of Congress vote for anything less than full healthcare coverage for all Americans knowing that a “no” vote is a death sentence for over 20,000 men, woman and children … year after year after year?

We must stop this American Holocaust.

Terry Wodder

Lewisburg