Vail Daily column: Promote productive health care |

Vail Daily column: Promote productive health care

Jack Van Ens
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Jack Van Ens

Most homebuyers refurbish interiors with fresh coats of paint, rather than gut residences. They restore instead of razing homes. Why don’t Republicans adopt this residential upgrade strategy regarding health care? Restore rather than replace.

Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower used this game plan when he took office in 1953. The president realized Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal policies, such as the 1935 Social Security Act, were woven into the fabric of American life. Instead of shredding Social Security, Eisenhower patched its weaknesses. He restored rather than replaced New Deal legislation (“Eisenhower in War and Peace,” Jean Edward Smith, p. 560, Random House, 2012).

Michigan’s Republican Sen. Arthur Vandenberg harshly criticized Eisenhower for keeping New Deal legislation in place, rather than repealing it. An American First isolationist in the early 1940s, Vandenberg advocated limited government aid for social programs. He believed citizens’ individual hustle combined with unregulated market forces would insure quality of life for the elderly and those most vulnerable. Vandenberg wanted to gut most New Deal programs because he believed they smacked of socialism.

Today, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) echoes Sen. Vanderburg’s theme of repeal and replace. Although the GOP health-care bill is dubbed Trumpcare, it really qualifies as Ryancare. It drives up premiums for seasoned Americans, low-income families and chronic sufferers of debilitating diseases.

Poor people pay more for health care; the rich pay less for their care. The GOP spins Darwin’s survival of the fittest into survival of the richest. Former President Barack Obama exposes this tax giveaway as “a massive transfer of wealth from middle class and poor families to the richest people in America.”

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Who has inspired Ryan to repeal federal government-run health care and make it part of each state’s responsibilities?

In his early years, Ryan became a devout follower of Ayn Rand, author of the novel “Atlas Shrugged,” who rejected government-run programs. “In her work, the state (government) is always a destroyer, acting to frustrate and inhibit the natural ingenuity and drive of individuals,” writes Rand biographer Jennifer Burns.

“It is the chiaroscuro (contrast) of light and dark — virtuous individuals battling a villainous state — that makes her compelling to some readers and odious to others” (Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, p. 3, 2009).

AARP warns how Ryan’s efforts to repeal and replace the federal government’s involvement in health care will hurt millions of American citizens. In respect to protecting elderly citizens’ rights, the “AARP recognizes the need to ensure Medicare’s long-term solvency. But turning a program that 67 million Americans count on for crucial health care into one in which their coverage is not guaranteed puts too many vulnerable people at risk.”

Trumpcare lacks heart toward the elderly and vulnerable citizens in nursing homes. It lops people from Medicare and Medicaid rolls, reduces benefits and increases rates.

“… Medicaid is already highly efficient,” writes Edwin Park, vice president for health policy in the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “The program provides more comprehensive benefits at significantly less cost than private insurance. Adults on Medicaid cost about 22 percent less than if they were covered by private insurance, Urban Institute research shows” (The Wall Street Journal, p. R-4, April 12, 2017).

Instead of Rand, wouldn’t Paul Ryan be more consistent to follow his mentor Jesus, who didn’t repeal and replace compassion for the vulnerable, elderly, refugees and children? Jesus clothed the naked, healed the sick, sheltered the refugee and fed orphans (Matthew 25:31-46).

Current GOP proposals don’t match Jesus’ productive health care.

The Rev. Dr. Jack R. Van Ens is a Presbyterian minister who heads the nonprofit, tax-exempt Creative Growth Ministries (, which enhances Christian worship through dynamic storytelling and dramatic presentations aimed to make God’s history come alive.

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