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A Former Intern’s Reaction to the Worst Healthcare Policy in a Generation

Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and should not be assumed to reflect the views of Deep South Voice or its affiliates.

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) with intern Nick de Castro. Photo courtesy of Nick de Castro.

I was one of the 712,379 people who cast a vote for Senator William Cassidy in November 2014. In June of 2015, I travelled to our Nation’s Capital to intern with Senator Cassidy and help him do the good work of the people of Louisiana.

As a political nut, the idea of working with an actual United States Senator was both exciting, intimidating, and terrifying all at once. I envisioned these senators as titanic ironmen, with complimentary egos and tempers. In the case of Senator Cassidy, who insisted we just call him “Bill,” I could not have been any more wrong.

The man I worked for was easily the kindest, most genuine, and good-natured legislator I have ever met. He needed to ask my name once, and only once. He loved his interns, and strove at every opportunity to get to know us, and involve us in the legislative process (I myself wrote a 5-page official policy recommendation for him concerning a vote on some EPA regulations). My experience in his office could not be described as anything other than one of the best summers of my life.

A lot has changed since then. I left the Republican Party shortly after my time in DC. Simply put, the Party had abandoned every value I thought it held, and I also came to realize that my own worldview was significantly different than that of the Party I had essentially been told to support from an early age. I voted for Bernie in the 2016 primary, and for Hillary Clinton in the general election after that. Despite my estrangement from the GOP, I can still recognize goodness and decency in anyone of any ideology, and Bill Cassidy is absolutely nothing if not a good and decent man.

That is why I was so surprised to see that he not only sponsors this monstrous abhorrence of greed and death conveniently disguised as a healthcare bill — he is its principle architect.

There is no way to mince words about it: this bill is objectively horrible, and the processes by which the GOP is attempting to make it law are even worse. Again, behind closed doors, Republicans are attempting to reshape one sixth of our economy: not by expanding healthcare, but rather by carving it apart like an old mare at the mercy of the knacker.

This bill is worse than all of the previous attempts by Republicans to take away Americans’ healthcare: setting lifetime caps, higher premiums, no protections for those with preexisting conditions, and the total elimination of Medicaid as we know it through a block grant program. It beats down the everyman for the benefit of the aristocratically wealthy and elite. It is, in a word, un-American.

“This bill is objectively horrible . . . It is, in a word, unAmerican.”

This bill is opposed by every major nonprofit disease research foundation in the United States, and will most likely be set to double premiums and remove at least 24 million people from their health plans. It won’t even be scored by the CBO before a potential vote, so the numbers could be even worse; some estimate as high as 30 million could lose coverage.

How big is 24 million? To put that in perspective, 24 million hours ago, it was the first quarter of the 8th century BCE. Now think of the 24 million Americans whose lives are about to be made indescribably harder, and in many cases, shorter because of this cruelty.

Senator Cassidy isn’t just a summer employer of mine; he is also a doctor. I am not a doctor, nor have I ever trained to be one, but even I know the greatest of the tenants commanded by Hippocrates is to first, do no harm. I shudder to even fathom that we have entered a time so depraved that a reasonable and empathetic mind would not consider the outcome of this legislation to be anything other than harm in the most egregious sense.

The Budget Reconciliation window to pass legislation without cloture expires on September 30. Republicans have nine days to pass this bill: nine days that could be spent funding the government, passing a budget, raising the debt ceiling, working on tax reform, fixing the broken immigration system, reforming the department of Veterans Affairs, reducing human trafficking, or working on any other productive alternative to this flagrant affront to basic human decency.

Take note of this telephone number: (202)-224-3121. This is the number of the US Capitol Switchboard. Call your senators. Make this week a living hell for them. Remind them why they failed to take away healthcare four times already. The people do not want this.

As an American, I am appalled. As a native son of Louisiana, I am ashamed. Even so, the good people of Louisiana shouldn’t have to be ashamed of their senator, for above all else, Bill Cassidy should be ashamed of himself.

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