Father’s Moving Story of Young Son’s Death Showcases How Trumpcare Could Kill People

I make no qualms concerning my position that health care should be a right, not a privilege. I don’t believe that a person’s ability to take care of their own health, or that of their family, should be based upon what they can afford or how much profit can be made. That’s exactly why nearly every major country on Earth has some form of universal health care for its citizens — except the United States, of course.



This debate always baffle me because the evidence in favor of single-payer health care is overwhelming. Not only do these other major nations provide this type of service to their citizens, but we have our own version of single-payer already enacted here in the U.S. and it’s extremely popular.

It’s called Medicare.

For-profit health care doesn’t even pass the common sense test. How can we ever hope to provide better coverage for more Americans while allowing hospitals, pharmaceutical and insurance companies to be for-profit? You can’t ask any type of corporation whose primary goal it is to grow revenue to incur more expenses (provide better coverage to more people), while taking in less in revenue (lower premiums), which is exactly why Republicans have absolutely no answers for health care.

Every single plan they’ve put forward strips health care away from millions, removes protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and will almost certainly lead to much higher premiums for more Americans. The only parts of any of these plans that help lower premiums is by allowing insurers to provide stripped-down plans that don’t provide vital services or through subsidies. None of their proposals do anything to provide “better, cheaper coverage for more Americans” like Donald Trump and the rest of the GOP promised they would.

Furthermore, the harsh and brutal reality of these GOP-backed plans is that people are going to die as a result. You don’t strip health care away from around 22 million people without some of those folks passing away because of it. Especially when you factor in that the Senate’s latest proposal allows insurance companies to set lifetime limits, guts Medicaid, and makes it easier for insurance companies to deny people with pre-existing conditions coverage.

But nothing I say can put into perspective how disastrous Trumpcare will be for millions of Americans as well as Google Ventures partner Ken Norton did on Twitter Monday when he told the heartbreaking story about the death of his 11-year-old son. If you want to see the original tweets, feel free to go here, but I decided I’d go ahead and put them all together so that his touching story is a little easier to read:

I haven’t tweeted much about healthcare because it’s a painful subject for me. But it’s important, so let me tell you my story.

First, please meet my son Riley. He was smart and funny and happy. He died at 11 years old in 2014 and I miss him so much. Riley was born with a preexisting condition in 2003: a severe heart defect. Nobody knew ahead of time, it was a surprise. Fortunately we had excellent healthcare through my job. For the next 11 years, *nothing* was more important to me than having coverage. His multiple heart surgeries and hospitalizations rang up more than $3 million in bills, all of which were paid by my insurer who came through my employer and was required to cover me, and could not deny him due to preexisting condition. No annual or lifetime max. Here are a few examples, that folder is filled with them. Other than a $100 copay for each hospitalization, note the NO MEMBER COPAY:

We got 11 ½ years with Riley because the very best doctors in the world did everything they could for him, without regard for cost. We focused on giving him a happy life instead of bankruptcy, GoFundMes, or taking second or third jobs that would take us away from him. Even then, our lives were upended. I wanted to start a company, or join a very early stage startup. I could not risk losing coverage. Nor could I purchase it myself due to his preexisting condition. Even the 18 months of COBRA scared the hell out of me. When a family member is this severely sick, even the tiniest chance of going without health coverage is terrifying and means bankruptcy.

But here’s the thing: there are no “healthy” and “sick” people. Healthy people can turn into sick people really fucking suddenly. Riley was fortunate to be born into a family that had good jobs with top-notch health insurance. There’s nothing special about us. The ACA offered that to *everyone* It wasn’t perfect, and it needs fixing. Everyone agrees with that. But I’m here to tell you that there is no “us and them” no responsible taxpayers and irresponsible moochers, we are them and they are us.

Nobody should ever have to endure what Riley did, but if and when we do, we deserve the best care available and the promise that our society stands with us ready to help.

I don’t want a tax cut. I want everybody to have what we had. Because we are humans. love you kid.

As Mr. Norton said, Riley was lucky to have been born to a family with the resources they had so that they could provide the care he needed throughout a life that was cut way too short because of his heart condition.



Unfortunately, millions of people aren’t afforded those opportunities. They live with excruciating pain that could be treated, or die far sooner than they should have, because we’re still living in a society that places a price tag on human beings. A system where human lives are treated as both revenue streams and expenses. A system where boardrooms full of individuals debate how to extract as much money from people as possible, all while seeking out loopholes to deny paying out on as many claims as possible.

I’ll never forget the interview I had with an insurance company once for a position as a claims adjuster. I was told by the gentleman interviewing me that my job was to find ways not to pay out on claims. That if I couldn’t tell an 80-year-old woman whose home was just destroyed that she wasn’t going to be covered, this job wasn’t for me.

That’s how for-profit insurance companies operate.

If Republicans get their way by stripping health insurance from millions, gutting Medicaid, setting lifetime maxes, raising premiums, and allowing people with pre-existing conditions to be discriminated against, I’m not exaggerating or using hyperbole when I say: People are going to die because of Trumpcare.

I’d like to thank Ken Norton for telling his son’s story.




Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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