FILE - In this Friday, March 24, 2017, file photo, protesters gather across the Chicago River from Trump Tower to rally against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, in Chicago. The Republican push to replace the Affordable Care Act was revived by a small change to their plan designed to combat concerns over coverage for those with pre-existing health conditions. But experts say the change, which helped the bill squeak through the House of Representatives, Thursday, May 4, 2017, may be too small to make much difference in the hunt for affordable coverage for these patients. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

Lane: Empathy needed, now more than ever

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By Joe Lane

joseph-lane@uiowa.edu

Last week, the House passed the American Health Care Act with a slim four-vote margin. The bill would largely repeal and replace ObamaCare. What’s worse, the House approval exemplifies a staggering lack of empathy in the
GOP.

Beyond repealing and replacing ObamaCare, this version would drastically rewrite the future of American health care by putting into place measures that remove protections provided by ObamaCare. For example, according to Vox, the proposal would allow states to opt out of ObamaCare requirements that provided key protections for people with pre-existing conditions, it would phase out expansion of Medicaid, it would cut taxes for the rich, and (as determined before recent amendments that led to House approval) it would lead to 24 million more people being uninsured by 2026.

While the House version is not even close to being law (Senate approval, among other things, must occur first), the surprising House approval of the bill proves once and for all that GOP members and the Trump administration are dead set on destroying the Obama legacy at any cost — including 24 million Americans.

How could anyone vote for this bill? How could anyone who knows what this bill does to those most-in-need among us vote for this bill?

One possible explanation is that those who voted for the bill were not, in fact, in the know.

I have not read the entire TrumpCare bill. I will be the first to admit that. It is one of the few things I have in common with several of the GOP representatives who voted for it, according to numerous sources. One big difference, however, is that when I don’t read a bill, I don’t run the risk of voting for something that could cost 24 million people their health insurance. But that’s just one problem. Plenty of GOP representatives voted for the bill knowing full-well what it does to those in need, which leads to the question of empathy.

Over the past four years, I’ve written more than 200 columns and editorials for The Daily Iowan, ranging in topic from climate change to anti-Semitism, elections to the Oscars. This is the last column I will ever write. With these final parting words, I want to give you the opinion you never asked for just one more time; I want to fight for just one last thing: empathy.

Is it possible that the person you’re calling a racist for voting for Donald Trump did so because her family that lives in a rural part of the country bought into the “audacity of hope,” eight years ago yet is still struggling? Is it possible that they so desperately need a change from the status quo that they were willing to overlook Trump’s (admittedly abundant) negative traits?

Is it possible that you don’t understand what it means to be black in America today? To be Jewish? Muslim? A woman? Gay? Transgender? A farmer? An immigrant? A staunch Republican torn to shreds by watching Trump win his party’s nomination?

We have only one perspective. We need empathy to understand the other 7 billion. This is where House Republicans largely failed with TrumpCare. Millions of people less fortunate than themselves need ObamaCare, yet a lack of empathy clouded these Republicans’ judgment.

Make no mistake, this is where many of us fail on a daily basis. This isn’t a partisan issue; it isn’t a gender thing or a race thing. This is merely an aspect of the human condition. So don’t look to your neighbor and ask, “What?” Ask “Why?” And as you wait for the answer, open your mind.

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