President Donald Trump can change his policy of separating children from their undocumented migrant families, but he can never undo the damage already inflicted on thousands of innocent children.
Readers of this publication need no reminder about the negative long-term health consequences of the state-sanctioned child abuse unleashed by the president. Thousands of children have been ripped from the arms of their migrant mothers and fathers and remain in holding facilities largely shielded from public scrutiny.
They are being denied basic human rights at a time when their futures are most at risk. The still-developing bodies and brains of the more than 2,300 children detained since May have been flooded with hormonal stressors, which destroy brain cells and will doom many to a lifetime of psychological and physical damage.
As of this writing, there are no plans to reunite them with their families. A petition protesting the lockup, organized by the not-for-profit Child's World America has already garnered support from 195 organizations and over 11,000 mental health professionals. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians and the American Psychiatric Association issued statements condemning the policy.
Every healthcare provider and payer should add their voice to the campaign. Americans, when apprised of facts, are decent people. Polls conducted amid the saturation media coverage found two-thirds of the public disapproved of separating undocumented children from their families. Even 39% of Republicans were opposed.
While it's been heartening to see the mounting national outrage over this transparent attempt by the president to pressure Congress to adopt his vision of immigration reform, the uproar overshadowed the executive branch's ongoing campaign to undermine the health and wellbeing of tens of millions of citizens.
Last week the administration issued a final rule legalizing the sale of association health plans. Insurers will now be able to sell small businesses and individuals policies that do not meet the 10 essential benefits required of Affordable Care Act plans. This comes on the heels of the Justice Department's refusal to defend the ACA's consumer protections in a suit brought by 20 states that would eliminate protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions. "You're going to save massive amounts of money and have much better healthcare," the president declared.
That will only be true if you're healthy and don't need to use your health insurance. But if you need coverage, you may discover your association plan doesn't provide maternity care, drug benefits or behavioral health services, for instance. Or the plans' sellers may turn out to lack the assets to cover their bills. Experts are warning the new rules will open the doors for fraudulent operators, which prompted two states to immediately sue to prevent implementation.
Association plans will undermine the exchange-based individual market by attracting younger, healthier individuals and the smaller firms that employ them. An estimated 4.3 million people are expected to buy the plans. That will lead to higher prices on exchange plans since those pools will become older and sicker.
The majority party's plans for healthcare don't stop with undermining Obamacare. The budget resolution passed by the House last week would cut $1.5 trillion from Medicaid and $500 billion from Medicare over the next decade to close the huge deficit created by the tax cuts signed into law late last year. Cuts of this magnitude would deal a devastating blow to the financial underpinnings of both programs.
Is this a symbolic vote like the frequent votes to repeal Obamacare? Don't kid yourself. The indelible stain of U.S.-sanctioned child abuse is a reminder that we are living in unprecedented times.