Health-Care Policy about More Than Dollars

Winnipeg Free Press, July 29, 2017 | Go to article overview

Health-Care Policy about More Than Dollars


It’s a rare moment when public policy debate in Manitoba and the United States put the same topic in the crosshairs — so to speak — and for largely the same reason.

Health care: it’s apparently all about cutting back, if elected officials are to be believed.

In Manitoba, the Progressive Conservatives under Premier Brian Pallister — who campaigned on a promise not to jeopardize front-line medical services, while brushing off NDP accusations he’d be running with scissors at budget time — have rolled out a series of moves that curtail, combine or otherwise reduce access to health care for many Manitobans. The party line: it’s for the greater good of reducing the deficit, which ballooned under the NDP.

In the United States, the cuts are of a different order. Both the U.S. Congress and Senate, controlled by the Republicans, have been trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which expanded health-care insurance coverage for millions of Americans. The act, dubbed “Obamacare” by its opponents, was modelled on a Republican program, the so-called Romneycare introduced when Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts.

Repealing the act, as attempted in the various versions of bills Congress and the Senate have introduced, would leave at least 22 million Americans without health insurance, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Earlier versions of the bill simultaneously provided tax cuts to the extremely wealthy, a motivation that was hard to ignore as debate over the Republicans’ agenda unfolded.

The Republicans’ most recent attempt to repeal the act failed at the last minute early Friday morning when enough Republican senators voted against it to enable the Democrats, voting as a bloc, to kill it.

It can be easy, as Canadians, to look at the American situation and feel some relief that we don’t have to go through life worrying that our next medical bill will bring financial ruin. …

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