Trump’s pledge to help sick UK baby as millions of US kids lose coverage is a reality TV-style stunt
President Donald Trump pledged on Monday to help a terminally ill British baby named Charlie Gard as the infant’s story has spread on social media, Politico said Monday.
The London-born baby boy has come to international attention as his parents wage a battle to keep him on life support in spite of a chronic genetic condition that leaves him zero chance of survival. British courts ruled that with no realistic hope of a positive outcome, Charlie Gard’s life support should be withdrawn.
However, the baby’s parents have latched on to the hope of a long-shot experimental treatment in the U.S. for Charlie’s infant-onset mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. Mitochondria are like tiny batteries in animal cells that store and release energy and allow cells to function.
Charlie’s mitochondrial DNA does not replenish itself like it should, starving cells in his kidneys, muscles and brain. Brain damage sets in at an early age and the disease is typically fatal in infancy or early childhood.
Trump, Politico said, tweeted that he would be “delighted” to help the Gard family obtain the experimental treatment upon which they are hanging their hopes.
“If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so,” the president tweeted.
Supporters started a #Trump4Charlie hashtag campaign, convincing themselves and each other that Trump will save the baby’s life.
The Congressional Budget Scoring Office (CBO) said this week that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’s “Trumpcare” bill would leave 23 million Americans uninsured by 2026, many of whom number among the country’s most vulnerable citizens.
“This bill puts the protections and peace of mind that come with comprehensive health insurance out of reach for millions of people—including children, the elderly and those with disabilities,” said Dr. Richard Besser, CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The Los Angeles Times noted that under a Trumpcare amendment, maternity benefits required by former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) will join mental health benefits, addiction and recovery treatment, pediatric dental benefits and more on the chopping block.
Massive cuts to Medicaid and Planned Parenthood will add to the burdens faced by women of childbearing age who need reproductive care and services.
Charlie Gard and his reality TV sweepstakes-style story of being rescued by a wealthy benefactor may tug at the heartstrings, but millions of vulnerable Americans with chronic or pre-existing conditions will probably never be lucky enough to find their own billionaire patron.
The Senate healthcare bill “rolls back expansion of coverage under the Affordable Care Act, which helped millions of people become insured,” said Besser. “It shifts responsibility to cash-strapped states for covering healthcare for the poor. It turns the financial support that made health insurance affordable for millions of people into tax cuts for the wealthiest among us.”
So while our president helps himself to a big serving of positive PR for helping one critically ill British baby, by tearing down the ACA he is sentencing thousands of American children and their families to lives of ill health, crushing financial struggles and the risk of premature death.