CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Health care should be a human right for everyone. Most modern democracies support this premise and provide universal medical insurance systems covering all citizens.
America made bold strides toward universal coverage when it created Medicare for seniors -- and Medicaid for low-income families -- and CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) for less-privileged youngsters -- and health plans for both veterans and active-duty service members -- and numerous government systems like West Virginia's Public Employees Insurance Agency -- etc.
In 2010, President Obama and Democrats in Congress made another bold stride by passing the Affordable Care Act, which goes into effect Oct. 1. It will cover an estimated 33 million left-out Americans who now lack insurance, and mandate numerous other reforms.
But Republicans controlling the House of Representatives have gone all-out to halt the ACA -- acting as if they want to prevent 33 million Americans from getting health care. They have voted 40 times to repeal the breakthrough reform, even though it was copied from previous GOP plans.
Now Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and former GOP Sen. Jim DeMint, who became head of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, are crusading to shut down the federal government to prevent "Obamacare" from being activated. They're staging a series of Tea Party town hall meetings across America to muster support for "defunding" the ACA.
Soon, Congress must pass another continuing resolution to pay U.S. government costs until the end of the fiscal year. Tea Party Republicans say they will block the resolution unless ACA money is stripped from it. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Sen. Mark Rubio, R-Fla., and a dozen other GOP senators are leading this effort.
If they succeed in killing the continuing resolution, revenue to the U.S. government will be halted, forcing a federal shutdown. That's a reckless and drastic step, just to prevent millions of Americans from obtaining health care.
Cruz says he wants a "tsunami" of public opposition to stampede Congress into wiping out funds for the ACA. But some Republicans call the Cruz crusade "silly" and "dangerous." Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., called it "the dumbest idea I've ever heard of." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told a Kentucky town hall assembly: "Shutting down the government will not stop Obamacare."
It's cruel to try to block medical care for 33 million Americans -- and it's doubly cruel to shut down the U.S. government in an attempt to achieve that goal.