TWO VIEWS: Stop attacks on Affordable Care Act


In the aftermath of the tragic killings in Sutherland Springs, President Donald Trump said, “I think mental health is the problem here. This isn’t a guns situation.”

If Trump believes that, why did he sign an executive order last month that could make mental health care less available? Trump ordered federal agencies to make new rules that would allow the sale of cheaper health insurance policies – cheaper because they provide less coverage for mental health and maternity care, among other services.

The question brings to mind an important fact that too many Americans want to ignore: The well-being of each of us is inextricably connected to the well-being of all of us.

TWO VIEWS: It’s time for action on health care.

The Trump Administration is doing everything it can to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, a law that reduced the number of uninsured Americans from 44 million in 2013 to 28 million at the end of 2016. He cut funding for marketplace enrollment outreach by 90 percent. He cut health care subsidies that made care available to Americans of modest income.

The ideology that drove Trump’s actions is that health care is not a right — that it doesn’t matter if millions get sick or die unnecessarily. Their deaths are worth their principle. After all, the ideologues believe, your health has nothing to do with their health. If they are healthy, why should they care how we are doing?

They should care because they are human beings — and civilization depends upon our caring for one another. Those who find it impossible to think that way could just take the selfish approach and understand that they are vulnerable to the illnesses and ill-health of their neighbors.

Trump is taking away health care while claiming that mental health issues are responsible for mass shootings like the one in the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. By Trump’s own belief, then, aren’t cuts to mental health care just another way of loading the guns?

Texans will suffer more than most through the Trump Administration’s assault on the ACA. That’s largely because we refused billions in federal Medicaid expansion money, refused to set up a state insurance exchange, and seem willing to do little for the less fortunate.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Texas news to your Facebook feed.

States with their own exchanges have extended the enrollment deadline, which in Texas will end Dec. 15 instead of January. The Republican leadership in Texas has done nothing on its own to make health care more available.

There are still 4.5 million Texans without health insurance. In Texas, more than 16 percent are uninsured — almost twice the national uninsured average of 8.8 percent. The number of uninsured Texans is likely to climb as insurers put premiums out of reach for many in the individual market to make up for the loss of subsidies for those of modest income.

It’s madness. Rather than attempt to address in advance the mental health issues of those who may one day commit violent acts, the answer we seem to prefer is just to arm all of them with the deadliest weapons available, leave them to their own nightmares on the street and see what happens.

Ideologues may make the argument that the madman should have, in his madness, made certain he could afford mental health care. It’s his own fault if he doesn’t. Individual responsibility and all that. But the argument is hollow. Maybe we should say, the argument is hollow-pointed — in honor of the killing bullet.

Those who don’t believe that health care is a right might consider taking a victims’ rights approach. They are just as vulnerable to the consequences of others’ ill health as the rest of us are. They or someone they love might be the next victim of a shower of fire or a deadly disease that can’t be stopped because we’ve denied our neighbors the care that would stop it.

Smith is an author and director of Progress Texas, a political action committee.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: Viewpoints delivers the latest perspectives on current events.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Commentary: With shootings and small checks, why would anyone teach?
Commentary: With shootings and small checks, why would anyone teach?

The optimism of graduation season was mixed this year with the tragedy of another school shooting, this time in Santa Fe, Texas. Among the 10 victims were two teachers. While we mourn the loss of our nation’s youths to school shootings, we should also wonder how the prevalence of gun violence will impact college graduates’ decision to enter...
Commentary: Don’t leave it to just veterans to honor America’s fallen
Commentary: Don’t leave it to just veterans to honor America’s fallen

What are you planning to do this Memorial Day? What is the day for? Why was it created? Despite a long tradition of public promises that those who give their lives fighting for their families, cities and countries will live on in communal memory, human hearts and minds can stand only so much. Memories fade. When our society does not bear the burdens...
INSIGHT: 3 maps that explain graying areas of Texas, U.S.
INSIGHT: 3 maps that explain graying areas of Texas, U.S.

The U.S. population has changed substantially in the last half century, growing by nearly 63 percent. Perhaps the two most prominent demographic changes over the past 50 years relate to age. In 1968, the baby boom had just ended, and the oldest members of its cohort were only 22 years old. As baby boomers age, the nation has substantially aged as well...
Herman: Runoffs that didn’t have many Texans running to the polls
Herman: Runoffs that didn’t have many Texans running to the polls

It’s quite possible that Rebecca Marques, a political strategist for the ACLU of Texas, is giving the Republicans too much credit. (And, FYI, POC is people of color.) “It’s almost as if #txlege has done everything to make it harder for Texans — especially young people/POC/low income — to vote in November let alone in a...
Yes, we speak English in America – and 350 other languages too
Yes, we speak English in America – and 350 other languages too

Lawyer Aaron Schlossberg, center, who ranted against people speaking Spanish in a Midtown restaurant, takes a cellphone video of reporters taking his video as he leaves his home in New York on May 17. (Anthony DelMundo/New York Daily News/TNS) Speaking Spanish – something 40 million Americans do – is all over the news. When...
More Stories