Route 91 to Universal Health Care

Do all four hundred and eighty-nine wounded survivors of the Route 91 concert massacre deserve access to excellent, affordable health care to patch up their wounds, nurse them back to health, and manage care for long-term injuries?

If the Republicans have their way in Washington, many of the people who were wounded in that awful incident will be left uninsured or under-insured. Many will go bankrupt because of medical bills they cannot not possibly pay. Many will have lousy insurance requiring huge deductibles and co-pays.

Today, under Obamacare, all of the 489 people who were injured in that horrible attack are protected from being denied access to health insurance because of pre-existing medical conditions like devastating bullet wounds. Under the most recent Republican plan for ending Obamacare, the Graham-Cassidy bill, this protection effectively would be lost. Sure, you could get insurance – but you would not be able to afford it.

Using the estimates from my own university, from the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at USC, I apply the percentages of effects of Graham-Cassidy on the whole US population to the number of people injured on October 1 in Las Vegas:

Of the 489 injured:

At least 24 of them would be left without health insurance altogether within a few years, as a consequence of the loss of medical insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.

At least 49 of them would be left without health insurance completely within a period of ten years, as a consequence of Graham-Cassidy gutting the subsidies and turning Medicaid into a “block-grant” system.

As a result of their wounds, very many would have chronic “pre-existing” conditions that would make insurance unaffordable as a result of losing Obamacare protections.

The quality of health insurance would be degraded substantially for very many of the other victims, as a result of the Republican plan. They’d be paying more for less coverage. Or they’d be paying less for premiums, but getting a lot less in benefits. Many would lose preventive care and pre-natal and maternal benefits. Many would be paying higher deductibles and co-pays.

It’s big news that country music stars are going public with support for common-sense gun controls in the wake of the Route 91 country music concert massacre. These cultural icons have big influence among gun owners. I’m hoping this change of hearts and minds, in the wake of this terrible tragedy, carries over to our national discussion about health care. Because of course all 489 injured survivors deserve decent health care, whether they can afford it or not. They didn’t buy tickets to abandonment by the health care system. They didn’t buy tickets to bankruptcy. They bought tickets to a life-affirming country music concert. Let’s all buy tickets to ride Route 91 to a better United States of America – where life matters more than guns and greed.

About the Author

Rev. Jim Burklo, Associate Dean of Religious Life, USC
Website: MINDFULCHRISTIANITY.ORG Weblog: MUSINGS Follow me on twitter: @jtburklo
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Associate Dean of Religious Life, University of Southern California

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