This week, polarization is omnipresent in the legislative process. With publications like the Washington Post featuring headlines reading, "Abortion is now an issue with no middle ground," it is clear that it is harder and harder for people to come together and voice their opinions in a civil and constructive manner. Thankfully, that wasn't the case on our Discussions platform.
This week featured a wide range of interests from the merits and flaws of the Affordable Care Act and single payer, to concerns about healthcare affordability and access to the poor, to Planned Parenthood and abortion rights. Here are just a few of the highlights from a week of fruitful discussion:
From the Op-Eds
"A similar analogy to the Affordable Care Act is Common Core because rather than the state setting their own standards; the federal government dictates everything."
- Elaine Li, Texas
"Single-payer’s bureaucratic requirements would stifle any existing innovation by decreasing incentives and thwarting individual choice."
- John Kingler, Washington DC
From the Discussions
"We negotiate for everything but I don't know what happens when it comes to medical costs."
- Ameya Aatman, India
"The true root of this conflict lies in the writing of the US constitution and the Bill of Rights."
- Tuhin Chakraborty, Michigan
"You can believe that healthcare is a privilege and that a well-run privatized insurance market can most benefit everyone."
"It is unacceptable, cruel, and disingenuous for a political party to attempt to paint over their inadequacies in the name of partisan loyalty."
-Sofia Sears, California
"Obamacare has not served the purpose it was intended for, nor the values that American represents...Forcing Americans to participate in and pay for a flawed institution such as current Healthcare insurance is not the way that we combat poverty in this country."
- Jacqui Guerra, Connecticut
"By getting rid of PP, Republicans would not be preventing abortions and saving lives, they would be doing the exact opposite, and they fail to recognize that."
- Anna Domahidi, Illinois
Women's Healthcare by Anna Domahidi, Illinois
One of the most troubling things about this administration, and every other one before it, is that men are the ones making the decisions regarding women's healthcare. Right now, the committee of senators who are working to iron out the details of the bill that will "repeal and replace" Obamacare is ALL MALE. These are the people who are going to make decisions on whether or not women's healthcare services are provided and what exactly constitutes a pre-existing condition, and no women are represented. In the current form of the bill, irregular periods, C-sections, and pregnancy are all considered pre-existing conditions, giving insurance companies more ridiculous reasons to hike up the price of premiums. In addition, treatment for sexual assault is not covered in this bill, which would negatively affect millions of women.
Then, there's Planned Parenthood (PP), which the current administration wants to get rid of. Sure I'm biased, but PP really does great things. PP provides thousands of women each year with access to safe and affordable healthcare, not just abortions. I feel like Republicans overlook all of the benefits of keeping PP around just because they provide those who need them with abortions. However, in places where PP has closed (specifically in parts of Texas), the maternal mortality rate rose and as did the number of unsafe abortions. By getting rid of PP, Republicans would not be preventing abortions and saving lives, they would be doing the exact opposite, and they fail to recognize that. I know so many women who rely on PP for mammograms and testing and I feel so lucky because there are seven PP locations in Chicago. Women need access to safe and affordable healthcare services, and the current administration should not be preventing that.
Healthcare is an American Mirror by Sofia Sears, California
Healthcare is such an intrinsically complex issue because it is reflective of the United States's fundamental ideological divide. Its arguments transcend the mere details of healthcare itself. The question is this: do we believe in providing every citizen with the resources to survive, or do we adhere to a more survival-of-the-fittest mentality? I don't say this to demonize anyone on any side of this debate. You can believe that healthcare is a privilege and that a well-run privatized insurance market can most benefit everyone. However, I am on the side that says healthcare is a fundamental right. I think that every American ought to be equipped with something as simple and as necessary as healthcare rather than spend immeasurable amounts of money, anxiety, and make irreparable life changes in order to attain it. Cultivating decent single-payer, public healthcare and establishing this as something we no longer need to worry about constantly, will allow all of us to spend our time and money on innovation, entrepreneurship, and our own ambitions.
Subsistence-level healthcare and American living is not enough. Quality of life ought to be the highest possible but in order for this to happen, every single person should be entitled to equal healthcare. Particularly, women should not be charged more and have lesser access to healthcare because they are women. The AHCA reminds me of the fifteenth amendment, in that it mandates that discrimination explicitly based on gender is prohibited, but it protects nothing else. The fifteenth amendment states that discrimination based upon race is illegal, but says nothing about the myriad of loopholes this offers; specific socioeconomic factors are exploited to restrict the voting rights of particular demographics. Maternity, menstrual irregularities, domestic violence and sexual assault, are all considered pre-existing conditions under the AHCA, all of which are clearly "conditions" targeted towards women. It is unacceptable, cruel, and disingenuous for a political party to attempt to paint over their inadequacies in the name of partisan loyalty.
Land of the Free... and Insured? by Jacqui Guerra, Connecticut
When you look at the issue of the American Healthcare system, it becomes apparent that we are facing an issue of differing, yet similarity valid, ideals. On one side, representing the more liberal mindset, we have the American Dream in the form of a government supporting its people so that they may have the opportunity to rise above the challenges that face them. The question for government-run, all-encompassing health insurance was the cornerstone of Obamacare, where the Obama administration sought to make health insurance a standard for all Americans, not just those who can pay.
On the other side, we have largely conservative voices calling out the flaws of the well-intentioned, yet inevitably inadequate plan. Despite being mostly liberally-minded, I have come to recognize that Obamacare has not served the purpose it was intended for, nor the values that American represents. The idea that every American, whether or not they want to, are legally forced to buy health insurance contradicts the right to private property, as law-abiding citizens should not have to buy into a (more expensive) system that they do not believe in. Having centralized instead of privatized health insurance makes it impossible for citizens to manage their own medical finances, and oftentimes leads to dangerous loopholes within its own blanket method.
Take the current situation of my family. My father, a successful salesman and software architect, recently sold his company and has spent the last nine months unemployed, something that him and my mother planned for. Though we are able to live comfortably using my father's share from the company's sale, and face little to no financial troubles, the State of Connecticut lists my father as unemployed, rather than temporarily retired. As such, for the remaining month of this year before my father goes back to work in July, my family is being forced by the state to go on government Healthcare. Morally, this is not correct, because essentially now our neighbors are paying for my family's Healthcare, even though we are more than capable to pay it on our own. However, due to the one-size-fits-all Healthcare system in the country, we don't have a choice. Forcing Americans to participate in and pay for a flawed institution such as current Healthcare insurance is not the way that we combat poverty in this country. The promotion of free clinics, free hospital visits, and privatized Healthcare is how we solve issues.
The Problem is Bigger than Healthcare by Tuhin Chakraborty, Michigan
While the current issue over how the duties of federalism are allocated to the national and state governments is the viability of government-subsidized low-cost healthcare, the true root of this conflict lies in the writing of the US constitution and the Bill of Rights.
To explain, the 10th amendment explicitly states that the federal government cannot infringe upon the rights of states with regards to powers not specifically delegated to them (this includes providing healthcare). However, the 14th amendment hints that all citizens in each and every state must be treated as equals in the eyes of the nation as a whole. Therefore, since some states can make healthcare harder to obtain than others, the national government can interfere and attempt to make healthcare more affordable for everyone.
Personally, I believe that the 14th amendment is supreme in this discussion as the right to life and health is an important civil right that should be protected by the US government. However, my main point is that many issues facing our political environment today, from healthcare to gun regulation, can easily trace their roots to the very documents that created our country. Clarifying these texts could potentially solve many problems.