Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
In Elysium, Matt Damon’s 2013 post-apocalyptic drama, the 1% are safely ensconced on a idyllic floating space station (Elysium). In contrast, the 99% toil in poverty and grime and suffer from police oppression on Earth, which has been destroyed by pollution and over-crowding.
Early on in Elysium, Damon, a former thug who works in a giant factory with no safety equipment, workplace regulations, or human resources protections, has an industrial accident and is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation. Fellow workers hear his screams from the radiation chamber and try valiantly to get him out, but the supervisor tells them to leave him in there and go back to work “because he’s already dead”. After the exposure, they drag Damon out (literally) and take him to the factory clinic. When the CEO sees him, he tells the supervisor to send Damon home before he soils the sheets. At several junctures in the movie, the dire, dirty conditions on Earth are juxtaposed with the gleaming perfection of Elysium, but the contrast in healthcare is the most stark. On Elysium, people have high-tech, full-body scanners that can cure all diseases. On Earth, people are left to die.
At one point, the CEO says to a worker whose daughter is dying, “This isn’t Elysium. We can’t just heal her.” This movie is the Koch Brothers’ wet dream and our nightmare. If the Republican Party could get away with it, this is where we will be by 2154 (the date of the movie) or sooner. Getting rid of the Affordable Care Act and social safety net programs are the first steps.
Speaker of the House John Boehner and newly anointed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wasted no time after Tuesday’s election announcing their intention to repeal the Affordable Care Act (also know as Obamacare or ACA). Why has the Republican Party been working since 2010 to repeal a health insurance program that the majority of Americans like and that now covers 12.5 million people who previously didn’t have health insurance?
Here are the top 20 reasons why Republicans want to repeal Obamacare…
20- It’s all they have been talking about for four years. They don’t have any other ideas.
19- It is completely irrelevant to them that 12.5 million Americans now have health care insurance who didn’t have it before.
18- It is completely irrelevant to them that pre-existing conditions have been banned.
17- It is completely irrelevant to them that preventive services are free.
16- It is completely irrelevant to them that women are no longer discriminated against in pricing.
15- It is completely irrelevant to them that college students can be covered by their parents’ plans.
14- It is completely irrelevant to them that fewer people may go bankrupt from medical bills.
13- It is completely irrelevant to them that the ACA has created thousands of good-paying jobs.
12- It’s not just irrelevant but downright unconscionable that those slutty bitches have access to women’s health services and contraception. (Can’t they just put aspirin between their knees?)
11- It is completely irrelevant to them that in most red states millions of people can’t afford medical care and, consequently, will be sicker and die younger because Republicans have refused to expand Medicaid.
10- Clinics and large physician practices make money on unnecessary medical tests. Let the market be free. A sucker is born every minute.
9- Health insurance companies don’t like having to spend 80% of the money they take in on providing medical care to us.
8- Health insurance companies want to go back to the days of offering worthless high-deductible plans that don’t cover anything. They liked the “you-pay-we-deny-benefits” system. Remember those super cheap plans that Republicans fought hard for people to keep? Those plans were cheap because the benefits were so limited that they didn’t even cover basic services.
7- Drug companies are scared that someday the government will get smart and negotiate volume discounts on drugs used by ACA, Medicare, and Medicaid patients. Every other country in the world negotiates volume discounts; the Republicans stopped that idea in the Congress years ago.
6- Down with Obamacare! is a popular sound bite with old white men, and they vote Republican.
5- When President Obama vetoes Republican Obamacare repeal bills, it will give them more fuel for negative attack ads during the next election cycle.
4- It’s all about corporate profits.
3- The Republicans’ corporate masters told them to get rid of affordable healthcare. Health insurance companies were making more money when they could charge high premiums, discriminate against women, and deny care to the sick and the poor. (They liked the previous system in which they could charge whatever they wanted and provide as little service as possible.)
2- Multinational corporations can spend billions to buy elections, but they don’t want to spend a penny to help their employees stay healthy and live longer. It’s not business friendly. Who cares if people die younger when they don’t have access to care? After all, what’s wrong with just letting them die, like Matt Damon in the radiation chamber?
1- Republicans have been chipping away at the New Deal and the War on Poverty for decades. Eliminating Obamacare before people realize it’s good for them is just one step on the road back to 1850. Here’s the Elysium trailer.