If you want to get a sense for how broken our health care system is in the United States, consider the case of 65 year old Hans Bruns, a German citizen who has been living as a legal resident in the US since 2007. Herr Bruns has become the latest casualty of reactionary Tea Party politics:
Bruns, 65, was diagnosed earlier this year with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare form of cancer. He needs radiation and chemotherapy. He needs medication to numb the pain that he says makes even simple tasks like eating meals excruciating. He needs health care.
But for that last six months, Bruns has been able to access only emergency care. He, along with as many as 500 others, received a letter from Maine'sDepartment of Health and Human Services last fall explaining that he no longer was eligible for subsidized health insurance.
"Your coverage is being reduced because state law has changed," the letter to Bruns reads. "This decision is based on MaineCare Eligibility Manual, Part 2, Section 3. This rule explains that some legal immigrants will only get MaineCare emergency benefits."
What happened to Herr Bruns and thousands of other legal residents across the US is that Tea Party Republicans won state elections in 2010 and immediately began cutting health care assistence for people while implementing tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens. These cuts are not only immoral, but also most likely unconstiutional:
Jennifer Archer, an attorney with Kelly, Remmel & Zimmerman, will take the lead in Bruns' case and is working pro bono.
"Hans and many others have been improperly, and without sufficient justification, singled out and denied health insurance coverage that provides medically necessary treatment," she said in a statement Thursday. "Hans' life hangs in the balance today, but we know that there are hundreds of other Maine residents who also are being wrongly denied necessary medical care.
"We are asking the court to find that current law violates the Constitution and order the Department of Health and Human Services to restore health insurance coverage for Hans and other, similarly situated individuals."
If the US Supreme Court decides against the Affordable Care Act - aka "Obamacare" - or if the Republicans win the White House in November, tens of millions of Americans will suffer the same fate as Hans Bruns.