Progressives appear to be pushing “climate change” as a launching pad to expand government health care.
Using “climate change” as a launching pad to expand government health care is not a new idea for Progressives and the Biden administration. The latest iteration of their plan is apparently to circumvent Congress and simply adopt the major platforms of Build Back Better (BBB) through a series of executive orders.
According to a December 24 report in The Washington Examiner, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)., the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus alluded to such a plan when she told reporters on a conference call in December, “It is abundantly clear that we cannot trust what Sen. Manchin says. At this point, we should not wait for that legislative path…”
Jayapal did not say which parts of BBB she wants Biden to create through fiat, but one way that’s been talked about by far-left Democrats is through an obscure section of the Social Security Act that allows the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to grant Medicare to any individual who has been subject to the loosely defined “environmental exposure.”
According to a Committee to Unleash Prosperity Hotline newsletter from December, in theory, Biden could open the flood gates to Medicare eligibility by embracing the tenets of the “environmental racism” movement.
Environmental racism is defined as “the disproportional impact of environmental hazards on people of color,” states the advocacy group, GreenAction for Health and Environmental Justice. “Environmental justice is the movement’s response to environmental racism.”
Claims Have to be Adjudicated
Political agenda-pushing was never meant to be within the scope of Medicare or other federal agencies but that has changed, says H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., a senior fellow on environmental policy at The Heartland Institute, which co-publishes Health Care News, and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
“This would have happened regardless of BBB being shelved,” said Burnett. “Biden came into office saying that fighting climate change was his number one priority and he was going to take a ‘whole-government approach.’ From the very beginning of his administration, every agency of the federal government was going to get involved in fighting climate change and every program would address environmental and climate justice.
“So, it’s not just Medicare – it’s every agency in the federal government fighting climate change,” said Burnett. “HUD is fighting climate change now. NASA, an agency dedicated to the exploration of space is fighting climate change and fighting for environmental justice.”
Associating health harm to climate change will be difficult and something that will have to be proven in court says, Burnett.
“Now sadly, all too often, the courts accept all sorts of quack science to approve these claims; we’re worrying about stuff like paraquat and Roundup—but the science doesn’t support it, and the judge has looked at the science said that it looks like it’s on point, but we’re going to let the lawsuit go forward. So, then it goes to a jury and the jury says, ‘Oh, we feel bad for these people and these guys must be terrible,’ then they give the plaintiffs billions of dollars rather than a judge telling them, ‘No, you’re not going to do that, you haven’t cleared the bar because the science isn’t there.’”
Advancing climate change harms to “environmental justice” could bolster political support if the plan is to expand government health care.
“You throw in everything possible that’s bad to get as many constituencies as possible behind you,” said Burnett. “You tell them you are disproportionately affected so you can get them to side with you.”
Medicare Stretched as It Is
Medicare is already in much worse fiscal shape than Social Security, says Merrill Matthews, a resident scholar at The Institute for Policy Innovation. And the emergence of Covid-19 has only made that worse for example, by requiring Medicare to pay hospitals more for treating Covid-19 patients.
“Opening the Medicare door to more people will only worsen the program’s financial stability and seniors’ access to medical care,” said Matthews. “The notion that HHS has the authority to expand Medicare to all currently unqualified individuals if there is a perceived environmental harm to their health is as empty as Biden’s claim that OSHA has the power to compel large companies to mandate their employees be vaccinated.”
Besides, the government needs to get its story straight on just how harmful climate change is, says Mathews. “On the one hand, it claims that climate change is a major public health threat. Yet the EPA boasts that ‘emissions reductions have led to dramatic improvements in the quality of the air that we breathe,’ and, “Lower air pollution levels mean less damage to the health of ecosystems.”
Climate change will have to cross a particular threshold, like COVID-19, says Matthews. “Congress sometimes gives federal agencies a little working room in order to meet an unforeseen challenge expeditiously,” he said. “But those exceptions aren’t blank checks, which is what Biden is using it as.”
Kenneth Artz (KApublishing@gmx.com) writes from Dallas, Texas.