Washington, D.C. is one of the most important cities in the world. It houses our nation’s capital and is the place where all of us hope and pray that our elected officials will do their jobs and collectively care about all Americans. But, as time goes by we learn more and more about how mean spirited some members of the United States Congress are and what they think about their fellow Americans.
I recognize that there are 435 members of the House of Representatives and not all of them follow the biblical admonition to “love thy neighbor as yourself.” However, one incident really hit me hard in evaluating what kind of human beings inhabit the halls of Congress. His name is Mo Brooks, an obscure member from Alabama. He is a part of a group known as the Freedom Caucus. This is the cluster of members who were elected to go to Washington, blow up the place and take no prisoners.
One of the big issues facing the current Congress is how to amend the Affordable Care Act so that as many Americans as possible are able to obtain health care at a cost they can afford. The United States is one of the few major nations in the world that does not provide some form of health care for all of its citizens. The House of Representatives has been having a hard time agreeing on a bill that will appease its many factions.
Congressman Brooks argued forcefully against any health care plan that protects people with pre-existing conditions insisting that “people who live good lives and have done the things to keep their bodies healthy should receive reduced costs for health care.” When his interviewer Jake Tapper of CNN pointed out that if states were given the power to decide if pre-existing conditions should be covered, they would either force the sick to pay more or deny them health care. Brooks responded that the pending bill would require people with higher health care costs to contribute more and that was fine with him.
To clarify what the issue is, prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies could deny coverage to people with a wide range of pre-existing illnesses such as asthma, cancer and diabetes. Brooks is one of a small group of intolerant members who feels that such coverage should be removed from any legislation and the sick should pay more and the healthy should be rewarded for staying healthy.
That issue was highlighted during a recent national television show featuring comedian Jimmy Kimmel. Kimmel, with great emotion, told the story of his three-week-old son who requires open-heart surgery. Kimmel observed that every American should be given access to affordable care.
Sooner or later, probably later, the Congress may agree on a bill that will fix the defects in the so-called ACA. In the meantime, there ought to be a process where people like Mo Brooks should be sent back to Alabama and be forced to meet with real people, including those with pre-existing conditions.
Former State Assemblyman Jerry Kremer is a partner at Ruskin Moscou Faltischek in Uniondale. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher or Anton Media Group.