Today’s papers carry two health related stories that are definitely good news for ordinary Mississippians. The first is that our state Department of Health has received national accreditation. As a result, the Department will be eligible to draw down funds from the federal Centers for Disease Control (and a few other places) it couldn’t get previously, and so should be able to expand efforts to protest and improve the health of Mississippi residents. The second story is that the latest Republican effort to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), the Graham-Cassidy bill, appears dead in the water, unable to garner the 51 votes it needs to pass before a September 30 deadline. As a result, millions of low-income Americans will get to keep, for the moment at least, the health care insurance coverage they gained under Obamacare.
But here are the nasty undersides of the “good news.” Just as the Mississippi Department of Health gains access to new external funds, our state leadership remains busy looking for new ways to cut the budgets of already badly underfunded state agencies – including health, mental health, and education – still further. A grant here and there will not and cannot ever make up with for a major shortfall in public investment, which is what we now face. On the federal side, progressives should not delude themselves into thinking that efforts to undercut the Affordable Care Act – to help it “implode” – are over. The president and leading Republican members of Congress are committed to the end of Obamacare, and remain unconcerned about the consequences of whatever version of “Trumpcare” is put in its place.
As social workers, our common problem is that the wrong people are in positions of power, making decisions affecting the health and well-being of all of us. We need people in power who care about people without power – who think the way social workers think – regardless of party affiliation.