This blog has not had much nice to say about John McCain during the years. There is a reason for that. As someone who shared the same vocation as McCain for a while, and was a member of the same party as McCain for over 26 years, it was extremely frustrating to watch his descent from the man who spoke truth to power and sought to resist the slide into idiocy, to become the man who would be stupid enough to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate-only to appease the soulless rubes who had taken over the party that John McCain had given his life to.
Nonetheless, it is a sad day when you hear the diagnosis that McCain has recently been given. The next several months and years will demand an enormous amount of McCain and all those close to him, and I wish them well in that fight.
It is also ironic, that this happened right at the time there is yet another health care fight going on. As some may remember, this is the same thing that happened to Ted Kennedy in 2009 when he represented the one vote that could have overcome any filibuster.
The tumor, known as a glioblastoma, is the most common type of malignant brain cancer among adults, and the prognosis for this kind of cancer is generally very poor. The median survival is 15 months, and fewer than 5 percent of patients live beyond five years of their diagnosis.
If the United States were still a rational country, with rational people leading its government, this news could be turned to good purpose as a dramatic marker of why it is so important for everyone to have health insurance. No one should have to face this kind of illness. Tom Levenson highlighted that very idea today in a column over at Balloon Juice.
A whole life, all 80+ years of it, and John McCain has never for a moment had to wonder what he would do if he became sick, or if his wife or his kids fell ill. For the first half of his life, he had access to a single-payer system; as a member of Congress, he received his health benefits through the same benefits package available to federal workers; since the passage of the ACA, members and their staffs have access to on-exchange subsidized plans.
And that’s great! John McCain should have had secure, guaranteed and persistent care. The injuries he suffered in Vietnam and during his imprisonment there should never have been eligible to be pre-existing conditions. He should have been, as he was, free of the choice-crippling necessity of working a secure gig to ensure access to insurance, thus enabling him to pursue his life of military and public service.
The kicker though: so should we all. The health-care life John McCain has led is the one that’s right not just for him and his family, but for all Americans. I won’t rehash here the moral and the practical reasons why — we’ve done that before, David can do it better, and we will be back at that by nightfall at the latest. All I want to do here is to make a modest proposal.
The Democrats should come to the next round of maneuvering on health care legislation with a plan that repairs ACA’s current weak points and lays out a path to full coverage. And they should name it after one of the great exemplars of the power of guaranteed health care to liberate Americans into lives of daring and service.
Here’s to the John Sidney McCain III Universal Health Care Act of 2017!
Unfortunately, the United States of America is no longer a rational country and cruelty remains the order of the day in Congress. The GOP remains committed to ripping health care from millions while taking a chainsaw to our medical system.
This is not the vision for the country that John McCain has given his life to serving.