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Last week, House Republican leadership killed off -- for a day or two -- the latest Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a guarantee that all Americans can purchase a burlap sack containing aspirin, two dead squirrels, and a Bible (with a $5,000 deductible). The geniuses behind the House attempt to kick tens of millions of people off their insurance still haven't been able to think of a way to do it that can actually pass, so their new strategy is to pass any damn thing in the house and tell the Senate to rewrite the whole thing so it can pass over there. Or let it die, maybe, just as long as House rightwingers can go home and say they voted to kill Obamacare at some point before the 2018 elections.


While that high-minded debate goes forward, Alabama congressman Mo Brooks took to CNN Monday to explain why members of the House Freedom Caucus want states to be able to strip away protections for preexisting conditions. Brooks and his pals simply don't like the idea that sick people, who cost more than healthy people, insist on using health benefits when healthy people don't, which of course is all the proof you need that rightwingers don't know a damn thing about how insurance actually works. Ah, but there's a moral dimension to it as well, because why would a good Christian like Mo Brooks miss the chance to insist that health is all about how virtuous you are, and no one else should have to pay for your bad choices, you sinner:

"My understanding is that [the new proposal] will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool," said Brooks. "That helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they're healthy, they've done the things to keep their bodies healthy. And right now, those are the people -- who've done things the right way -- that are seeing their costs skyrocketing."

Mind you, Brooks did immediately acknowledge that some people have preexisting conditions through no fault of their own, so maybe the public could give them some help with their medical costs, grudgingly. He didn't quite explain how the government would go about discerning whether a preexisting condition was morally pure enough to merit non-punitive coverage. Perhaps there could be some sort of "panel" involved.

Think Progress calls attention to a 2011 study by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that found that as many as half of Americans might lose coverage (or be priced out of it) by any scheme that took away the ACA's protections for people who have preexisting conditions. Unfortunately, the study did not anticipate the need to estimate which patients with preexisting conditions are good and pure and worthy of support, and which ones have brought all this suffering on themselves through bad choices. Just goes to show how secular government always misses the point.

Not surprisingly, the Twitterverse had some thoughts on Brooks's distinction between people who live good lives and those reprobates who have preexisting conditions:

Also, while Jimmy Kimmel didn't specifically mention Brooks and his judgy judgmentalism in his Monday monologue about his newborn son's arriving on this dumb planet with a heart defect, he did indeed discuss what a horrible thing insurance penalties for preexisting conditions used to be -- and why we should never let them come back:

Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease, like my son was, there was a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a preexisting condition,” Kimmel said.

“If your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not live long enough to even get denied because of a preexisting condition,” he continued. Babies shouldn’t die when surgery can save them, he said — and “it shouldn’t matter how much money you make.”

Choking back tears, Kimmel added, "No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen. Not here." While he was at it, Kimmel excoriated Donald Trump for trying to cut funding for the National Institutes of Health -- a cut yesterday's Continuing Resolution eliminated.

Clearly, these people complaining Brooks is heartless didn't listen to his full statement, where he admits some preexisting conditions might be sinless. Probably not too many of them, because if a child is born with some horrible ailment, there are plenty of good Bible-believing folks who'll be happy to explain how the congenital condition is really God's punishment for you having an abortion in the past, or maybe God let your baby die because that baby was going to grow up to be Hitler, or perhaps all preexisting conditions are God's punishment for America allowing abortion and gay marriage. If it works for tornadoes and terrorism, then obviously it can apply to individuals' health. At the very least, pregnancy should never be insured, since people could just choose not to ever have sex. And if pregnancy isn't covered, then it only stands to reason that people who get sick for any reason have no cause to complain either, since their parents or grandparents also could have chosen not to have sex. It's all about taking responsibility, going back several generations if necessary.

Or perhaps Mo Brooks is an even bigger asshole than that idiot from Ohio who thinks low-income workers aren't worth wasting healthcare on, since they don't contribute any useful skills to the economy. With so many Republicans saying so many stupid things about health insurance and who "deserves" it -- and, for that matter, the Idiot In Chief apparently either ignorant of or lying about his party's plan to let states slash protections for preexisting conditions -- it's difficult to say who's the most morally reprehensible.

But here's an idea: Maybe we could decide healthcare is a right enjoyed by everyone, and leave the moral judgments to preachers, ethicists, and 19-year-old college students debating the nature of Good and Evil until three in the morning.

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[ThinkProgress / STAT / NYT]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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