John McCain’s Illness is a Tragedy—and That’s Why The Healthcare Debate Matters

John McCain seems like a good and decent man, and his Cancer diagnosis is horrific. It’s the kind of news that makes you sick to your stomach; a tragedy for his family that rivals little else. It would be horrific, sickening, tragic news even of he weren’t a good and decent man, even if he wasn’t a public figure, even if his name carried no resonance in the larger population. He is a human being, up against an urgent and violent threat—and this should deeply move each of us. Politics and religion should burn away in the light of the fire he is facing, because we recognize how fragile and fleeting life is.

And that’s why talking about healthcare in the wake of this terrible news isn’t disrespectful, it isn’t in poor taste, and it isn’t political opportunism—it’s the goddamn point. The personal hell that John McCain and his loved ones are walking through right now is the point of it all.

These moments are precisely what we’re talking about, arguing about, screaming about:
The atomic bomb of grief that gets dropped on your family when you get the test results and your planet is altered forever.
The abject terror that befalls you when someone you love is facing a literal fight for their continued existence—and all you want is for them to win it.
The swirling storm that rushes in and overwhelms you; a million questions about outcomes and treatments and percentages and nightmare scenarios.
The bottom immediately dropping out of your sense of peace and safety and normality.
Feeling like everything is suddenly caving in—and at the very least, you hope you won’t lose everything you have trying to keep someone you love alive.

This is a universal disaster, one none of us are strangers too. If you’ve logged time here, you have names and faces attached to your terrible stories, to your miraculous recoveries, to your answered prayers, to your endless grieving. This is why this matters.

John McCain deserves life. He deserves to have every available resource exhausted to try and make him well. His family deserves this. His wife and his children deserve it. The people who treasure him deserve it. They deserve it, not because he’s wealthy or known or “important”—but simply because he’s loved by someone who wants more time with him. That’s enough for me. Every human being deserves this. Every spouse and every child and every treasured person.

John McCain is priceless to those he loves and who love him—as priceless as the people you love are to you, as you are to them.
He is a household name, but every one of us is a household name to someone whose life is defined by our presence and who would be decimated by our absence.

Accessible healthcare is something we need to talk about now, because Cancer is an equal-opportunity bastard who cannot be defeated without help; because life-threatening illness is a bully that knocks the hell out of you and those who care about you, because we are all terrified of dying and want to know that we won’t be left alone if the shit hits the fan.

I want John McCain to live. I want him to get to spend more time with those who would grieve his loss in ways I’ll never understand. But I want this for you too. I want it for your father and your children and your friends. I want it for those I love. I want it for people I agree with and people I don’t.

We should be for one another. We should fight for each other’s life with all that we have.

This is what America does when she is at her best.



105 thoughts on “John McCain’s Illness is a Tragedy—and That’s Why The Healthcare Debate Matters

    • How timely your piece re John McCain as it relates to health care. Thirteen years ago I had prostate cancer which resulted in the removal of the prostate. Last year I had my thyroid removed which had a cancerous tumor attached. Last January my wife was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma which resulted in surgery to remove a tumor and six chemotherapy treatments over the past three months. The surgery and chemotherapy seemed to have worked with the latest scan showing no evidence of new tumors. In all this we worried about all that your blog talked about: the love of our five children, how it will affect my wife’s mother, our friends and extended family. But the one worry that never came up was how to pay for all this treatment because we live in Canada where all Canadians are covered. The only bill I ever paid at the hospital for our stays was the phone, TV rental and parking. Now my wife and I are able to put our energies into helping her back to health without worrying about a bill from the doctors or hospitals. Compassion for our neighbours is important for Canadians.

      • This is not the first compassionate entry I’ve seen from wonderful Canadians. Thank you for reminding us of the loving faithful leadership our former administration represented.

      • God is good, and be very thankful for the wonderful care you and your wife received under Canada’s national healthcare program. Hopefully we in the USA can find the political will and common sense to implement such a program soon.

    • please. he bombed yellow people from the sky while poor white and brown and black americans trudged through jungles. yes, he was a hero, but not more than 57000 other ameicans, 5 of whom were my brothers

      • And John is pointing out that the white, brown, and black people have a right to health care, too. He’s not comparing one group against another. It’s all about everybody being taken care of.

      • Yes, and they. Don’t talk about the 153 he killed and hundreds he maimed when he blew up the aircraft carrier the U.s.S. Forestal. Then they don’t mention his Radio broadcasts for the Vietnamese or how he made them quit looking for MIAs. The man is a fraud and Trump was right, he’s no hero.

    • In Europe’s single payer system, McCain would likely be ineligible to ‘exhaust’ all the possible treatment options on the grounds that he is 80 years old, and an independent agency adjudicates the level and degree of care to which each patient will have access.

      • This argument and questionable facts are very tired. Every time universal healthcare is mentioned conservatives drag out death panels,yada,yada,yada. Even if it were true why would our system have to be like the U.K. or Canada or the rest of the western world. Can we not take it and improve? No, it’s all about tearing down the ACA for political gain instead of trying to fix it or looking beyond the greed of insurance, big pharma and the trial lawyers to craft a real solution.

        • The original article claims McCain has a right to exhaust resources. The single payer system being touted precludes that, very specifically.
          If you’re tired of the truth, that says something.

  1. You are a man of uncommon compassion and foresight. This is a beautiful tribute to a good and decent man who is a national hero, whose politics I don’t always agree with. All of US , as you’ve so eloquently written, deserve a healthcare system that works for US. I emphasize US because as the United States we can and should do better not only in our healthcare policy, but in how we treat one another, how we respond to one another, how we love one another. May God bless John McCain in this fight for his life. May God see fit to instill some common good in US all.

  2. This was really bad news for me. I might not agree with everything he ever said or did—but on most matters—his was a voice of integrity and he was on numerous occasions willing to speak the truth to power—even in his own political party and when it was not the popular thing to be doing. John McCain has been no real friend of Donald Trump—and that has been obvious. History is one of my favorite subjects, and I know a lot about it. American history will look back on John McCain as a good man, a credit to his country, and one of the few Republicans who, rather than dithering, fingered Trump for whatever he really is. I say “whatever” because the words that accurately describe Trump have not been invented yet.

    Here’s praying that John will be one of the 30 percent that lives as long as two years after this tumor was first diagnosed.

    • Why, at the conclusion of such positive, caring words, in the wake of Mr. McCain’s tragic dianosis, did you feel the need to throw in negative ‘words’ about President Trump? Was that really necessary? This illness does not have anything to do with what kind of man Donald Trump is, it has everything to do praying for the man who is gravely ill, JOHN MCCAIN. May we all ask for blessings and prayers for Mr. McCain. Amen

      • Ma’am. It is a thing called REALITY. John McCain and I see it. You do not—simple as that—and if you seriously think Trump is going to save your imaginary little corner of America—as my dad used to say: “You got another think coming.”

        • Charles, there is a startling contrast between the quality of health insurance Senator McCain enjoys as a member of Congress and what his political party would inflict upon the majority of USians.

          The CBO announced that the newest version of Trumpnocare would have left even more people uninsured than the first: 33 million people.

          It is a sad commentary that while people are willing to allow McCain every possible treatment, they don’t care if 33 million fellow citizens do not have medical care.

          That’s why it is important to talk about Trumpnocare at this time because the contrast has never been clearer.

      • Virginia, Ma’am, please and for the love of God, do not use this as a forum to defend Donald Trump or Republicans who are both so deeply invested in the destruction of the Affordable Care Act that they do not care that people (loved ones) will die just so the GOP can pen healthcare reform as a Republican Achievement. The article was about the infinite value of life, the devastation of losing loved one’s, and a tribute to a fine and decent public servant, not those would devalue human life. I appreciated Charles’ comment and add that many Americans are in a lifetime’s fight to save healthcare for everyone, or are in danger of losing care that they owe their lives to. Mr. Trump earns each and every negative word thrown his way.

  3. My father died of a glioblastoma. I am really upset about this privilege for our legislators. My father was the guy carrying over the wretched Agent Orange which has caused countless deaths and caused many serviceman to die from glioblastoma. I have always called Medicare the medical reduction plan designed to kill our senior citizens. Medicare along with the supplemental insurance my parents paid for did not cover surgery, only radiation. My fathers situation mirrors that of John McCain who was able to have surgery, but not my dad. All citizens should be able to have the same coverage. I hope somehow McCain can wake up and realize the inequity and realize he should advocate for his constituents to have as much as he does. This IS SO WRONG.

  4. A diagnosis of glioblastoma is virtually a death sentence. News reporters can talk about surgery, chemo, radiation, but the fact is–there is no cure. There is a reason disability kicks in almost automatically with this diagnosis. I say “almost” because you still have to apply and provide proof.

    Universal health care is an important issue. So is research. Both of these should be on the table in any discussion of healthcare overhaul. Neither are.

    When my husband was diagnosed in 2012, we were very lucky because he had coverage through the VA. Still, there were costs. Nothing in life is “free.” Due to a screw-up on the part of the local hospital, the VA did not cover my husband’s initial care or surgery other than the “until stabilized” portion of his illness. Added to this were the costs involved in taking him to VA medical appointments for blood work (ninety miles from home), clinic checkups and medications.

    It also cost us time to get approval from the VA for radiation to be done locally rather than at the VA hospital. Since the radiation was done on a daily basis for six weeks, the cost of travel to and from the VA hospital would have been prohibitive for any but the wealthiest. We were not wealthy though we were fortunate to have enough in savings to cover those medical bills not covered by veteran benefits. I was also lucky in that there was still enough to cover death costs and to see me through until my first Social Security check.

    Still, the greatest cost was to my husband. He told me about it one day about a year after diagnosis and not too long before he elected to have hospice care. He said, “I feel like I’m losing myself.”

    That is the true cost.

    Glioblastoma is a thief. So is Alzheimer’s. They steal what makes a person the person you know. The person you love, the person who sang to you off key, who kissed your hand while he pretended to be Pepe la Pew, who told you dirty jokes in Clint Eastwood’s voice or narrated some weird movie in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s voice. The person who held your hand through the labor of bearing children–and who changed the diapers of those children to give you more time in the garden. They steal the person you loved.

    My husband didn’t deserve to get this cancer. Neither does John McCain. No one deserves this.

    And Congress and 45 need to know undermining and repealing the ACA while cutting funds for research/science is going to ensure that many, many people are going to die from this and other horrible diseases.

  5. Dear John and friends,

    I was horrified when I read the news about John McCain. While he and I have never really agreed, I have been impressed with his dedication the USA.

    Healthcare is a human right. All of Europe and Canada is convinced of it. Thanks be to God that the ACA is intact for that Mr. McCain and his family can face the future with dignity, knowing they have health insurance.

    Of course, Congressional health insurance is even better so they have that.

    Every single person in the USA ought to have the same quality health insurance as members of Congress.

    In the meantime, Sen. McCain and his family will be in my daily prayers.

    Of course, Jimmy Carter had brain cancer and beat it. May John McCain have the same blessing.

    • Every US citizen should have access to the same health care as our Congressional Representatives. This is the outrage. I am thankful that Senator McCain will get the best of the best, however, the best of the best should be accessible for all of us. I lost my father to Glioblastoma Multiforme when I was 10 years old. I really lost him when I was 8, because the disease took him from our home by physical treatment travel and quick loss of ability to function. The outcome for this disease has not really increased life span by much in 50 years. A tragedy for all. Blessings for you in the loss of your sister. I hope you have some happy memories.

  6. Sick to my stomach; that was my reaction, too. Every person in America has the right to quality medical treatment. I’m in favor of single payer health insurance for all our citizens.

  7. What a superb and moving piece.

    I often don’t realise how lucky we are here in the UK, to have a free healthcare service. During my wife’s 3-year battle with pancreatic cancer, which she lost nine months ago, it didn’t cost us a penny to help her, except for our petrol costs to get to the hospital. I too would wish these free services to be available for *everyone* who needs it. People like me, and all those in my country, have no idea what it’s like to face something like this and not have the means or ability to fight it, because it’s always been available to us. People like Trump also have no idea, it seems. I don’t know his background but certainly, now, he can afford it. And even for those with health insurance, some of the insurance companies have such terrible terms to their policies that even then, you’re not safe. Sure, if you get cancer, it gets treated; but if it returns? Some companies won’t fund you a second round of treatments…and so the nightmare continues. The last thing you want to be doing at a time like this is to be reading the small print, while all the time the ice water of terror is flowing through your veins.

    I really feel for John McCain and his family. I’ve just looked up the story – those poor people. And your description of what it must feel like when the tests are going on and all of a sudden the bottom drops out of your world – that paragraph describes it perfectly, or at least as well as any written words can do.

    I was going to write a book about the fight; the fight with cancer. But it seems you have stolen my thunder! 😉

    • But how much taxes do you guys have to pay? It seems like they take most of your paycheck. How about investing? How much of that do they take? Just curious.

      • With a tax burden of 25% — a measurement that includes income, property, and various other taxes — the U.S. is near the very bottom, well below the overall average of 34%. I believe U.K. pays around the average of 34% (for the 35 countries listed in a report from The Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development). Denmark is highest at around 50% but they also receive free university education as well as health care. I am American so I am only speaking from research, not experience.

      • Not really. I have three jobs. I checked my records on one of them. Last year I made $22,000 at that job and paid $1,750 in income tax. I think you will agree that that is not half my pay cheque. My investments are designated for my retirement so any amount I invest is deducted from my earnings for this year, giving me a lower income tax payable. When I take that money out, gradually as I need it, during retirement, then I will pay income tax, but only on the amount I withdraw in that year. The income tax pays for all government services, not just medical care.

        We also pay a sales tax that provides revenue for government services, but it isn’t onerous.

        I think that people like to spread false information (otherwise known as lies) about Canada’s health care because if our model was adopted, some folks would have their excessive profits cut into. My favourite lie was the one about our “death panels”. I was travelling in the States and everyone who heard me say “eh” asked me about the death panels. They don’t exist, but I sure had a hard time convincing folks they had been lied to.

        • “Death Panels” in Canada? NO! In the good old U.S of A. Yup. Mot a part of the government. The office in the health insurance company, who’s job it is to deny payment to sick customers, and let them die.

  8. Good God, friend. Yes, just yes. Absolutey 100% yes. As the mama to a daughter who fought brain cancer for 3 years, and died as a result of said cancer – my heart dropped hearing his news. I know that personal hell all too well. Like you said – what better time than now to discuss it the healthcare crisis so many face. Oh, i could go on and on here, but I value your time, and your readers time…but, just wanted to say thank you so much for speaking the truth…for not backing down in the face of opposition. Grateful for you, friend.

  9. John McCain is fortunate (!) in a way – he has access to a gold-plated Cadillac of a health plan, and will lack nothing in the way of treatment.

    As far as I can gather, the fundamental point of view of most GOP legislators says that everyone who can afford to pay is entitled to the same treatment, but that the rich have no obligation to contribute to the costs for the poor.

    If John had been just some poor guy in rural America, whom they had just deprived of health care, I suspect that people like the members of the Freedom Caucus would not even pause to shake their heads at his situation.

  10. Amen, John. You’ve described so perfectly what life is suddenly like when you get that kind of news. My husband was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal cancer 3 years ago (which, mercifully, it looks as if he’s beaten). We are a childless couple, and even though we’re blessed with a ton of incredible friends, I cannot tell you just how alone I felt when we received the diagnosis. Fortunately for us, our insurance seems to have covered almost everything – but that “everything” cost somewhere in the neighborhood of a million dollars or so. Our worry now is that if the cancer comes back, we won’t be able to find an insurer. And if we have to use every penny we have, and he dies anyway, that leaves me all alone and probably broke. Nobody should have to face anything of the sort: not me, not you, not Sen. McCain. Not anyone in America. I hope this would be a wake-up call to the GOP to do the right thing – but I fear that’s a forlorn hope.

  11. Fact is , Each man is Given a amt of time to live, make things right with God, Seek God, Glorify God in his life .
    John has been given many of these times of extension of life.
    ( some call this 9 lives ) I call it GRACE , Gods GRACE
    God Give s all many chances and extensions of life to make things right with our relationship to Him.
    The Bible is clear on the fact that all life is given from God the Creator of the universe. and he is the only one who has the final authority on Life.
    We All , You , I , others have been given a measure of time to live .
    The Bible states clearly that if you repent , turn to God, Change your bad behaviors , bad thoughts, wrong ways of thinking .
    He is faithful to forgive, and extend life.
    if you read the books of Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Proverbs , you see this.
    only if you really want to see this will you see this.
    God Forgives , God Loves until death on a cross, and waits patiently for mankind to return from Rebellion and Sin which by the way separates mankind from our ability to see God.
    Turn to Him ,
    Today is the Day of salvation and Repentance, Change , Trust, Belief , Holiness
    God Wants Humble, Meek, Lowly servants who love Him and serve Him.
    NOT MAN and his ways

    • So, what you are saying is all those young men sent to war by our elected leaders and who died for their country were unrepenting sinners who turned away from your god.

      Sorry, but I view the Old Testament as the history of the Jews and the New Testament as the Christian faith in which I was raised and to which, I confess, I have great difficulty believing any more.

      Still, there resides one glimmer hope for me; that the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 hold true. The whole chapter, not just the last verse.

      If we cannot love one another, care for one another, what good are we?

  12. He has been given a good life, lives well , and had extensive luxuries over his life.
    God the true God has taken care of him.
    Thankful for the years of service and ability to be checks and balances in the leadership of this country.
    Be Thank Full for what you have, have been given, and what and who you are NOW .

    • Freeman, you are one sick bastard. I wonder if you would be so free with your judgments if this were your son we were talking about.

    • Yes, but, Christopher. If you are telling us that ultimately, we all die, that is true. We often expect far too much of our doctors and treat death as a failure instead of a transition. But this should not be an excuse for denying the vast majority of the population the care needed to either cure the patient or ease their suffering and that of their families. Relying solely on charity and the Grace of God is not enough. God has given us the means and the intelligence to make lives better. Why is it not part of his plan that we act with compassion and community to do so?

      I have not agreed with many of McCain’s political positions. I have seen him more often of late capitulate to the Mammon of the Resentful Right as a price for his Senate seat. But I have never doubted his love for the Consitution and the wisdom of the Founders, and his courage to defend the idea of America against the Frank Underwoods of the world…of which there are far too many in this country, both in and out of the halls of Congress.

      Ultimately, we must accept the transient nature of our existence on this earth. But that does NOT mean that we throw up our hands and point randomly at the Bible when we are called to fufill our commitments to our fellow humans and to all Creation.
      God raises up the meek, but that is not the same as the timid. Jesus was humble, but lived with a profound agency. This is what we must do.

  13. Pingback: What If?: Even the Best Republicans or Democrats | radical eyes for equity

  14. I wish Senator McCain only the best. He is from a generation of politicians who really took the job to serve the people. I wish him a seedy recovery or if that is not possible a painless and peaceful passing.
    At least , since he has the very best healthcare coverage , he will have access to the very best that medicine has to offer, in terms of treatment and medications. He is in a priveldged position that few in this country are in. In addition to dealing with their disease, most have anxieties about copays, medical costs, and leaving their families with huge debts. That’s if they have access to the best treatments at all. Most don’t even know where to turn. In parts of the country this diagnosis is nothing less than a death sentence.

    • John McCain’s diagnosis is a death sentence. There is treatment for the disease that can buy him some time. Medicare will pay for that, just as it would for us if we were senior citizens. He can also get care through the VA if he chooses, though the Phoenix VA is chronically understaffed. He may have ongoing insurance through one of the exchanges – remember that people in Congress were excluded from federal health insurance when the ACA passed. He may have that or he may have Medicare supplemental insurance through any of a number of sources. I dearly wish that we had universal health insurance. But we must be careful not to resent that McCain is getting care. Rather we should push that all we be cared for.

      • I hope Sen McCain gets every ounce of care he needs.

        However, I daresay that as a recipient of Congressional health insurance, he has the best quality insurance in the USA.

        I would like everyone living in the USA to have that same quality. Because that is compassionate. That is loving our neighbors.

      • We can talk about universa care til we’re blue in the face. Nothing will ever change until the real problem is addressed: corporate money in American politics.

  15. I, too, have deep respect for Sen. McCain. I, too, have not always agreed with his positions, but he has served our country honorably and I think he would have been a fine president. (Running mate not so much). Healthcare must be a basic right, not a privilege. I know the hell his family is going through. Medicare and supplemental insurance kept my father from going bankrupt when pancreatic cancer showed up. It killed him, but at least they didn’t lose everything they had. If he’d been just a few years younger, they would have, and he still would have died. How is this fair? Medicare for all is one solution. Repealing the ACA while not improving what we’ve got, will kill people. Cancer does not discriminate. It attacks everyone, regardless of age, income, race, sexual preference or anything else that serves to separate rather than unite us. It is the hidden dragon within us all.
    May God be with Sen. McCain and his loved ones.

  16. I too felt terrible when I heard about John McCain yesterday. I disagree with a lot of his politics but he seems like a decent, thoughtful man, a voice of reason in a time when there often isn’t one to be heard. He will undoubtedly fight this battle with the grace and courage he has shown throughout his life. My heart goes out to him and his family.

    I have had breast and ovarian cancer. I have a PET scan scheduled tomorrow. I am one of the lucky ones: I was diagnosed and treated and it seems to have worked. But I have access to excellent insurance, and patient education, and the internet, and I’ve been an advocate for my own care. I have a good job with a good company run by good partners. What about the women who have none of these things? Those just trying to get by? Those who can barely afford to put food on the table, let alone the luxury of health insurance? They deserve the same chance that I have. Universal health care for all citizens of our rich, developed nation is a no-brainer, yet Congress, after 7 years, still fights over repealing the admittedly flawed Obamacare. Yeah, it ain’t great, but it’s better than nothing. And it represents a lifeline for folks like me with a pre-existing condition. If it all goes up in flames tomorrow – and if it’s one thing I understand, it’s that your life can blow up in an instant – and I have no job or insurance, what do I do? I have COBRA for 18 months and then I’m high-risk. We’ve carefully saved and planned for our retirement. Do we lose most of savings paying for my over-priced insurance for several years until I’m eligible for Medicare, which may or may not cover my care if a recurrence occurs? I can’t help but feel that the rich people who predominantly populate positions in power in this country just don’t have a clue what life is like for those who aren’t wealthy, or even worse, they just don’t give a shit. Their greed overshadows their humanity. How very sad for all of us.

  17. I have been formulating my own blog post, letting it rattle ’round my head, and was near ready to write it up when I found your post. (TY for the twitter reply btw.) Now I don’t need to type a thing because you have said all that I wanted to say, just better.

    The nearly 40 years my wife has shared with me have been a never-ending monologue of my medical struggles. It’s always been accepted that I would go early and go ugly. My wife though has always been the Amazing Amazon Warrior; never sick, never bowed, never tired. Until last year.

    In one dreadful week we learned she had both breast and colon cancer. Found early, the procedures she endured seem to have beaten the colon cancer and delayed the breast cancer … hopefully for a good long while. But in that week the accepted plan for our future was turned completely on its head. If not for her policy through the ACA, we would have been completely wiped out or had to face her Cancer with little or no healthcare at all. Now the GOP wants to take that away.

    I am different than most, perhaps because I have danced with the Grim Reaper far more times than most. I have also talked with God, on a first name basis almost, more than anyone should. I’ve bargained with Him, argued with Him, even yelled and cussed at Him.

    But I also can see the beauty in His plans sometimes too. And I see the painful beauty in McCain’s diagnosis. You are right, it is horrific, terrifying, disgusting and disheartening. But it is exactly the impetus for the conversation we NEED to have in this country right now. If there was ever a person with shoulders meant to carry this burden, a person that has sacrificed nearly everything for his country, it is John McCain. I remain steadfast in my belief that sometimes the flames of human loss reveal the most important and beautiful human souls.

  18. A dear friend is in her final weeks of this awful, devastating cancer. It is a cruel disease and every patient and family deserve the peace of mind that they will not face bankruptcy at the end. They deserve the hope that research to improve the outcome is just around the corner. They deserve to know the rest of us think their struggle was important and that the angels wept with them. Holding the McCain family and all families in my heart always.

  19. I was just saying to my husband that I wished it would be possible for the country to not politicize John McCain’s illness and just be supportive of him and his family. We lost my sister-in-law to glio-blastoma several years ago and it was agonizing for her and all who loved her even with good medical care and hospice when the time came. After reading your eloquent piece, I take my words back. This is exactly the time to discuss health care in America. We must never give up the fight for universal health care.

      • How do you know that Eddie isn’t short for Edwina, or that it is perfectly fine for Mr Eddie to have a husband? Read the latest blog entry on this site and Get Enlightened [or more to the point, get your head out of your ass]. Your prejudice and way of thinking is outdated and irrelevant, not to mention harmful.

  20. I’ve always said John McCain should have been the Republican Party’s choice for president in 2000. Instead, they pushed through this incompetent puppet named George W. Bush. The Karl Rove sludge machine stooped to the lowest levels by questioning McCain’s patriotism, which is an affront to all military veterans – especially those who were taken prisoner of war and / or died in captivity.

    McCain is one of the few moderate politicians (especially in the GOP ranks) in Washington, and his inevitable departure will be a deep loss for everyone. Whether he’s cured or not, I just hope he doesn’t suffer long. He’s been through enough.

  21. THIS! These words ring so true!! When a person is diagnosed with cancer, they need to know their options, their chances, what treatments are available. They need to hear about procedures, not insurance policies. They need to know everything that can be done is being done. Our healthcare system is so mercenary. Demanding money from a person while you hold their life in your hands is despicable. So is jacking up the cost of medical care. What good is medical care if its not affordable? Theres no reason for health healthcare cost that much. They need to remove the greed from the equation.

  22. Absolutely we need a single payer universal system! Because life is precious and fragile, I believe God expects us as a humanity to lift each other up .

  23. My husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2003 and waded through hell for 10.5 years with various maladies related to it before he went Home. It was awful, it was grinding, it was awful. (Had to say that twice.) But with all we went through in this dreadful journey, I was gifted with a excellent insurance and a good-paying job so I didn’t have to worry about fighting with hospitals, doctors, and insurance companies too. Everyone deserves, in the face of a life-changing diagnosis, the freedom to *only* worry about getting well.

  24. Dear John Pavlovitz and Reader:

    The desperately needed Healthcare discussion is blocked by the same reality which stymies equally critical discussions of escalating attacks on democratic rights, and ongoing preparations for war and domestic repression.

    1] The corrupt, ruthless, parasitic, and essentially fascistic capitalist oligarchy that runs the United States won’t allow it.
    2] Popular opposition as yet finds no significant expression in organized, political opposition to the ruling class agenda.

    The stinging defeat of the extremely unpopular attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act notwithstanding, the drive to shred all that remains of the 1930s and 60s social programs will continue unabated.

    The next attack comes in the form of a draconian Budget Committee plan to siphon off huge sums to increase military spending, and pay off the super-rich with more tax breaks.

    The US House purposed tax-giveaway is a procedural gimmick to let the bill to become law with a simple majority in the Senate, thereby overcoming whatever nominal opposition the Democrat Party is able to mount.

    As countless times before, Republicans will set the marker outrageously far right; ever conciliatory Democrats will reach ever further rightward to embrace a ‘fair’ and ‘meaningful’ compromise.

    The key conclusion to be drawn from this is that there CAN be NO serious fight against relentless attacks on Healthcare apart from a struggle against the entire political establishment and the capitalist system on which it rests.

    Destruction of healthcare, poverty wages, mass indebtedness, dismantled public education, the war on immigrant workers, escalating police violence and unending war all come at a price. Among tens of millions, social anger is building. It will unleash and disrupt all the schemes of the ruling class and their political representatives.

    Not a solitary social or democratic right can be won without a frontal assault on the wealth of the ruling elite and its dictatorship over social and economic life. It is essential that the 90% arm itself with a program of and for the 90%. It must seize the unprecedented fortunes amassed by a criminal and parasitic elite, convert giant corporations and banks into public utilities, and divert God’s created resources from those who own the mansions on privately owned South Sea Islands, to serve the sick/starving/naked/exposed/etc. who populate the earth in ever-increasing numbers.

    On this side of eternity, there will be no perfect administration or system of political economy. But the overt vandalism of God’s shalom and creation must be addressed if life on God’s good earth is to continue.

    ‘In past years, our proposals had little chance of becoming a reality…The time for talking is over; now is the time for action’

    – House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black –


  25. What heartwarming and heartbreaking stories people have posted in these comments. Love to all who are facing terrible diagnoses or providing support for a family member.

    My brother has schizophrenia and has suffered badly since adolescence. Already, we provide so inadequately for the mentally ill. I fear for him and others afflicted with this disease which takes an enormous toll (mentally, emotionally, and economically) on entire families.

    There may be those out there, but I have never heard anyone from any other country express resentment about taxes – or any thing else but gratitude to live in a country that provides universal coverage.

    We owe it to each other. We just do.

  26. Dear John: from your column -“They deserve it, not because he’s wealthy or known or “important”—but simply because he’s loved by someone who wants more time with him. That’s enough for me. Every human being deserves this. Every spouse and every child and every treasured person.”
    Jesus confronted and challenged those who believed good health was God’s approval and sickness was God’s disapproval of persons. Those who were blind were believed to be without God because the eye was the lamp to the soul. Lepers were similarly cursed and put outside the village or city – ostracized when they were ill. In the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, he lays outside the gate completely unnoticed by the wealthy man. The “slave” of the Roman Centurion (check out the common usage of the Greek “slave” word) is there as part of the Roman occupation – certainly beyond the care of any good, patriotic, Jewish citizen. The Centurion declares himself to be unworthy for Jesus to enter his house, but Jesus is impressed by the centurion’s love for his servant and his treatment of the Jewish citizenry. The woman who seeks healing on the Sabbath is scolded for not knowing her place. Jesus heals them all. For those of us who see Jesus as our Messiah/anointed/ a political term – “and the government shall be upon his shoulders ” and all that – this world is God’s realm – and governments had best understand that their role is not only to protect – as in military protection – but to care for the sick, the aged, the imprisoned, the widow, the orphan and the immigrant. Matthew 25 – the sheep and the goats parable – speaks of the NATIONS being called before God’s throne and the Nations are judged by how they have taken care of the least. By his life, actions and teachings Jesus says “Every human being deserves this care”. We in the USA are the last developed nation without Universal Health. So John McCain is rich and powerful and because of that he will get the health care he deserves – but his money and power have nothing to do with his deserving status. He deserves the best because like every person, John McCain is God’s beloved child. Thank you for this column, John.

  27. I can’t wait till we are all at our best again heer in American with loving hearts and health car for all.

  28. I love your writing, and agree with your points in this post. I frequently share your posts with my more conservative Christian friends as I believe your viewpoint is more closely aligned with the true message of Christ. However, your use of profanity, especially the word “goddamn”, has given many of them “proof that he isn’t really a Christian” and has delegitamized your message for many of these people. I realize that to some, the offensiveness of the word “goddamn” seems antiquated, but personally I still find it offensive. Please consider the impact your words have on others and realize that you are a voice of reason in a sea of madness, and don’t give the conservatives ammunition. Thank you for your writing.

    • Anyone who is offended by the righteous anger which led to Pastor John’s use of the word “goddamn” has issues with anger itself (and probably also with priorities, but that’s another subject.) There are things which humans do which are indeed cursed by God(what “goddamn” means.) The attempt to repeal the ACA is one of them.

      • Here’s what ‘goddamm’ annoys me about this. There is no ‘righteous’ anger to be generated about the inevitable repeal of the boondoggle called the ACA. It literally has no redeeming features. In simplest terms, those who wish to tout the increase in the number of covered Americans are being hornswoggled. If covering another person – which the ACA truly does poorly – comes at the cost of hitting another person over the head with a pipe, is it a net gain, or a net loss, as the pipe injury is an increase in costs.

        ACA was passed in its monstrosity for only one purpose, to confer a ‘right’ upon people, and to get them used to the notion that somehow the government is going to ‘give’ everyone healthcare. We all know that one can’t give gifts, and then take them away with impunity.
        The objective was to desensitize the right, to make them used to the idea that people are entitled to possess things that haven’t necessarily earned, and to allow them to access the victimization card at all turns.

        The ACA is awful legislation, which was passed before anyone understood it, which has failed a number of Supreme Court examinations, and which passed two of them because of clever rulings by John Roberts, who must have been motivated to construct his ruling out of fear of societal upheaval.

        • It’s clear that you haven’t read a goddamned word of what the author has actually said. Or you’re choosing not to hear what he and many of your fellow citizens have to say.

          • It’s clear, huh? The author has built his article on the premise that we need to hold to the primary elements of ACA at all costs.
            I disagree, and demonstrate why.
            What in the world are you talking about?

            • “He doesn’t make personal attacks on individuals here in spite of the fact that he receives many from people here.

              Criticizing groups or policies or national figures is different and is part of a civil debate. Personal attacks are not.

              Peace and love to my friends and enemies.”

              I don’t know what you’re smoking, Joey Boy, but it must be some really good shit.

  29. Everyone should have – at the very least – the same quality and coverage of health care as a Senator with brain cancer.
    Here is what needs to happen:
    1) Repeal ACA
    2) Repeal Medicaid
    3) Medicare covers everything for everyone
    4) All medical service providers and all medical product manufacturers must incorporate as a not-for-profit
    5) Prohibit advertising for prescription medications

    • Doug, are you also going to recommend that the bankruptcy laws be loosened a great deal?

      Because, as things are right now “All medical service providers and all medical product manufacturers must incorporate as a not-for-profit” providers and manufacturers would declare bankruptcy in alarming numbers.

      Medical students graduate under a staggering load of debt. Medical product manufacturers have all sorts of costs in addition to the actual manufacture. Then there is inflation.

      Now, I agree Big Pharma is bilking the public. If the same meds made by the same companies are available in Canada and Mexico for less than half of what we pay in the USA, it is clear we are being bilked.

  30. Pingback: A Christian Pastor Just Said What Democrats Are Too PC To Say About McCain & Trumpcare – Police

  31. Here in Canada, our hearts go out to Senator John McCain and his family and other loved ones.
    WE are so fortunate here in this Country to have a Healthcare system, that is not without its’ faults, but is there for everyone and as another previous commentator stated, we worry and grieve and go through all the other things WITH THE EXCEPTION, of worrying about losing our homes and creatures comforts because of Healthcare bills. Thank you Canada for thinking we are important Canadian Peoples’ and that you want us to live..Let us all pray that YES, the People of America will wake up and listen to those who are calling for Universal Healthcare and ADOPT IT., and stop listening to the SCARE TACTICS., of those who worship and want dollars from the Insurance Companies to keep them in office. Let us continue to pray for a complete healing and speedy recovery for Senator McCain and pray that he comes to his senses and starts to advocate for Healthcare for All…

  32. I’ve lived in countries that have Universal Health Care, and those that do not. Either way, you pay a high price for it. Conservatives are merely reluctant to let Govt take control of that very intimate part of their lives. We think the Govt poorly manages, and wastes money that could be better spent elsewhere. Plus, the Govt is capable of making immoral decisions that I don’t agree with, yet, I $till pay for it.

    Govt cannot possibly afford to pay for everyone’s medical treatments, so what they do is cut corners every way they can. Terminally ill baby Charlie Gard (UK citizen) has just been granted permanent residency in USA so that he could be treated here, since the UK’s National Health Service refused him.

    Anyone over age 80 in the UK is considered a ‘bed-blocker’, (their term, not mine) and the doctors subtly, and not so subtly do not recommend treatment for grave medical conditions.

    If Mr Cain was living in the UK, he possibly could hear from his doctor, ‘there is nothing we can do for you.’ [ “Too old to treat.” is the term they use behind closed doors. ]

    • I experienced Medicare when I walked with my Father and Mother’s extended illnesses until they could be with the Lord. After my only experience being with private insurance, Medicare was superb throughout. People that keep saying Govt can’t run insurance are just flat wrong and not knowledgeable on the topic. Single payer Medicare system is the only solution to force control of the runaway healthcare costs.

      • Thank you for that. My husband and I are on Medicare and I believe everyone should be so lucky. Now that we have brought this up they will be trying to take it away from those of us already on it. We wouldn’t want people to be treated as humans, now would we.
        Peace and Love,

  33. Pingback: After John McCain’s Health Tragedy, Pastor Hits GOP with Message That’ll Bring Tears to Your Eyes | Bluedot Daily

  34. yeah yeah mccain, war hero. also 200 years old and fighting to take health care away from tens of millions of americans. also a millionaire. also white, male and privileged. a brain tumor is a tragedy fr any family, not especially more so for mccain. long past time for us to say so so job, faithful servant. go away now

  35. This is a wonderful article with many responses of people who have faced similar situations. Yes we should have Universal Healthcare in the USA. I believe the majority of the citizens of our country believe this. Congress as it is now won’t even consider it. Big money is what controls this country with donations and lobbying and back room deals. The parties in congress don’t really represent the people that voted them into office. They were, for the most part, good people who were taken in and trained to kotow to what the money masters want them to do. John McCain is one of the people who doesn’t always listen to them but votes his heart some of the time. I was a medic during Vietnam, a Paramedic for a small community Fire Department and an RN at the VA so I could provide care to my fellow Veterans. Just like the Affordable Care Act the VA isn’t perfect. But those of us on the front line give our best every day to provide the best possible care. Sometimes it is not enough and for that I remember those who we lost.
    Congress needs to take seriously that now is the time to revise how Healthcare is delivered in America. Their current bottom line is how to let businesses profit from providing care. The caveat in that scenario is how much profit do they deserve. I’m diabetic and with the cost of insulin skyrocketing for no known reason as the drug has been around for decades makes no sense. Epi Pens went up 500% or more in costs for what reason. It to is a drug that has been around for decades. Why should Drug Companies deserve EXTREME PROFITS from drugs that were developed years ago? I know there are tremendous costs in developing new drugs to fight disease and they have to be paid for, but why should it be on the backs of the citizens of the USA when we could get the same drugs in Canada, Mexico or a Western European Country for about half that cost! The American Healthcare Act isn’t worth the paper it is written on. It gives the states the ability to opt out of the most needed care of most US citizens. No ER Care, No Maternity Care, No Mental Health Care, possibly No Prescription Drug Care. Yes it will be less expensive then the Affordable Care Act, but it won’t provide the needed care at the most needed time. I also hate the built in age tax. If your are over 50 the insurance companies can charge you 5 times as much for your premium. As a Disable Veteran I have access to good healthcare for the rest of my life. I use it now, but I have a wife and daughter whom I’m paying $6032 a year for insurance for them. Since we are both over 50 and retired on a fixed income how will we be able to pay $30,000 a year for health insurance and survive. That is more than half our income. I’m upset and angry that our lives are being threatened by a Congress who only cares about business and the bottom line. The don’t care about the people of the USA or they would be spending the time to actually consider what they can do to make life sustainable for the American people and provide the businesses with a reasonable profit. They shouldn’t be hurrying through an ill thought out process by 13 white men who are not representative of our country’s population and needs. All this is based on trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act which indeed has it’s own issues, but is supply insurance for millions of people who don’t have it. Repealing it without a replacement or cutting subsidies by the President to gut the program will only put many lives in danger.
    We the people need to literally demand face to face meetings with our Congressmen and Senators to explain why their ill thought out AHA is better for the citizens they are representing in Congress. 2018 is an election year for Congress, We the people can change the face of this incongruency of no compromise on anything that goes against (Know I’m going to take shots for this one) the Republican controlled House and Senate. I don’t care if you vote Republican, Democrat or Independent we need to vote in people who will face big money and reject their influence and vote what we their constituents want for healthcare.
    I live in Arizona and have followed John McCain’s career for along time. I believe he is an honorable Senator and although we differ on some issues I pray that he succeeds in his fight against cancer. My prayers also go out to all of you who have responded with your stories of how illness has stricken your families. That is shy I have spilled my heart out to all of you. We who work in healthcare strive to save your loved ones, family and friends, but until there is more money for Research and Hospitals in rural areas we will soon be facing a Health Care Crisis that the current Congress doesn’t care about. Please stand up for your rights and fight for our future!!!

  36. Before it was announced that he would not be present for next week’s potential repeal votes, I sent him the following letter (I’m from Tempe, AZ).

    Dear Senator McCain,

    I want to express my best wishes for your future recovery. I also want to tell you a little story about healthcare in Arizona. I crashed my bicycle while crossing a street in Tempe last October, and spent about 42 hours in the Chandler Trauma ICU. In spite of wearing a bike helmet, I had a concussion, sub-arachnoid hemorrhage, a badly bruised eye orbit, two broken ribs, a detached rotator cuff, and benign positional vertigo. Six weeks later I developed two subdural hematomas on the other side of my brain. Today we got the bill for the hospital stay (not counting any of the follow-up procedures, surgery, or PT, which is still ongoing). The total charges for that day-and-a-half were $62,738.06. Subtract from that the insurance payments and adjustments, – $62,588.06. That leaves an amount to be paid of $150.

    You can see from this that I, like you, have excellent insurance. Mine is through the the Arizona State Retirement System and United Health Care. Yours is through the plan for the Senate and House, each of which has exempted itself from many of the Draconian cuts in the ACA that have been passed in the House, and failed to pass, so far, in the Senate.

    That’s not my point here, though. Imagine if we didn’t have this excellent coverage. Where would we have come up with that kind of money? Out of pocket? That one incident, which took mere seconds to happen to me, could easily wipe out anyone who didn’t have insurance this good. And millions don’t; further millions have no insurance at all. Although I’m 62 years old, this is also an accident that would most likely happen to a student or young person – someone who under the new Trumpcare may no longer be covered until they are 26 by their parent’s insurance or who may simply choose, without the mandate, to forgo insurance. Who pays for them when they cannot pay their bill? Locals will pay in higher healthcare costs because subsidizing the full cost of uninsured care in the ER is much more expensive than subsidizing a Medicaid premium. And the much ballyhooed “health savings accounts” proposed by some GOP members are an illusion; how many of your constituents would really be able to save even my $62,738.06 bill in their lifetimes? That’s just another way for the GOP to pretend that people will continue to be covered, when, in fact, the vast majority wouldn’t be.

    The Affordable Care Act is a barely adequate attempt to address the problem of millions of under-insured and uninsured Americans. But it needs to be fixed, and expanded, not repealed. The only proper response is a single payer system, i.e. Medicare for All. I urge you to vote no on the Senate’s efforts to repeal the ACA and to work toward a system that covers every American with the kind of coverage that you and I enjoy.

  37. Pingback: NC pastor Jon Pavlovitz: Sen. John McCain’s brain cancer a part of healthcare debate — Political News

  38. Pingback: Connecting McCain's Tragic Diagnosis to Trumpcare 'Is the Goddamn Point' — Political News

  39. Pingback: Connecting McCain’s Tragic Diagnosis to Trumpcare ‘Is the Goddamn Point’ | The Reader Magazine

  40. Pingback: Connecting McCain’s Tragic Diagnosis to Trumpcare ‘Is the Goddamn Point’ | Occupy World Writes

  41. Pingback: Connecting McCain's Tragic Diagnosis to Trumpcare 'Is the Goddamn Point' - eNews Park Forest

  42. Pingback: NC “Pastor” Claims John McCain’s Cancer is ‘the God D–n Point’ of the Healthcare Debate | First In Freedom Daily

  43. The sad truth is that many people have such an inflated sense of worth and lack the ‘love thy neighbor’ mentality so they can ignore those without access to health care as undeserving of it. I hear it often, “why should I help pay for someone else to have care…” I do not grasp what makes a mind lean to Republican politics much less toward Trump. I never will. I don’t even want to know how that works. It bears no resemblance to the teachings of Christ or the decency I seek in humanity.

  44. To all of you who voted GOP, third party, or didn’t bother to vote, you are responsible for what the Senate did today.

    You have murdered me, my mother, and 32 million of your fellow citizens which will include people you care about.

    Fairly confident that all in the Trinity and the entire host of heaven are weeping right now.

    • Gloriamarie, “You’ll be happy to know the Senate voted down a straight-out repeal this evening. What they had agreed on was a debate on the bill. Oh, and the vote this evening was a clear indication of how much the Republicans need to overcome. They needed 60 votes and received only 47.

      BTW, I think many believe Congressmen get their health care free. They don’t. They have to pay for insurance just like most of us.

      • Which is a gigantic relief, Rainsong, but the danger is still there. We must not give up the fight.

        If I said anything to lead you to believe that our Congress folk get free health insurance, I apologize. I was trying to say that arguably, members of Congress have the best possible health insurance in the USA.

        On my FB group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, I have posted some very specific actions we can all take to keep them from mucking up the ACA. Unless they vote to turn it into single payer

    • Gloriamarie:

      I may be in the same boat. My meds if I had to pay for them would cost me some four thousand dollars every month. They are the only thing keeping me alive. But nobody in the alt right gives a good Goddamn about it.

      • Scott, I know you well enough to know that it is as true of you as it is for mom and I and I am sorry for it.

        I don’t think it is merely the white supremacists (I refuse to dignify their existence by allowing them to claim that they are an alternative right). I think the entire Right, all the neocons, most of the Religious Right, have all voted in such a way as to murder so many of their fellow citizens.

        May they repent and confess their sin and take reparative action before it is too late.

  45. McCain breaks from his cancer treatments to travel back in order to vote to remove healthcare from millions. I take back every bit of respect I had for him. He is not a hero, he’s a monster.

      • You are being intellectually lazy I my opinion. His speech was clear. He returned to vote to persevere with crafting a solution. He voted begin the debate, not to repeal or replace anything. Pay attention, and get out of your echo chamber periodically.

  46. We’re Made in the Image: A New Poem for Health Care for All

    By Carolyn Winfrey Gillette 7-26-2017

    [Editors’ note: Below is a hymn written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette about health care and God’s vision for our world. Unlike many of her pieces, this poem is not set to a familiar tune.]

    We’re Made in the Image

    We’re made in the image

    The Message expresses,

    The Good News attests

    That we’re formed out of sod,

    That we’re made every one,

    Every daughter and son,

    Every wandering one,

    All the faithful and funny,

    The thin and the brawny,

    The fearful, the hopeful,

    The cloudy, the sunny,

    The sinning, the grieving,

    The brave and the stumbling—

    We’re made in the image of God.

    Health care not fair don’t care too bare

    Leaving out the poor

    The children and the elders

    Like mountainous boulders

    Come crashing and crushing

    The middle class women

    Who struggle at paying,

    The men who are broken,

    The children, the hungry—

    Want to see a doctor

    For low fare—

    Hearing: don’t care,

    Go there,

    Wait for the doctor,

    The medicine, the money—

    Go get Medicaid.

    Wait your turn honey,

    Time now to be afraid

    Of what’s in front of me?

    Is there hope for me?

    People been saving

    People been slaving

    All of their lives,

    Now they realize

    Spend it down, hit the ground,

    We’re caring for the greedy,

    The wealthy and the haughty,

    For they say they’re the worthy,

    The high and the mighty—

    No room for the sick

    The nursing home mama

    The struggling papa.

    No — those in power,

    The mighty of the hour,

    Look what they say:

    Just take away, take away,

    Take away more

    Take from the poor—

    Don’t keep score

    Don’t take notice

    When the rich seek more.

    Then we hear the Message:

    We’re made in the image,

    The good news attests

    That we’re made by the One

    Who created and blessed us.

    We’re made in the image

    Of the One who loves us.

    We’re made in the image of God.

    In the words of Isaiah

    We see God’s vision—

    It’s more than wishing

    it’s a way of living.

    For God is creating

    A joy and delight.

    They’ll be no more weeping

    In the deep of night.

    No more distressing

    No children dying

    From the great transgression

    Of the greedy and the haughty,

    They’ll be love and beauty

    They’ll be justice for all to see.

    As children live,

    So the elders too,

    Will become like youth—

    They’ll be healthy, strong,

    And they’ll live life long

    They’ll build homes to inhabit,

    They’ll have feasts of food

    In the neighborhood,

    Never bearing for calamity

    But living in society

    Healthy and strong

    Living all life long

    Not in health care danger

    Not in fear or hunger—

    LIke the days of the tree

    Will the days of the people be:

    The wolf and the lamb

    Will feed together

    Every son and daughter

    Blessed by God the Father.

    They’ll be love and justice

    As the daily practice

    As we live together

    As the people of God.

    For we’re made in the image,

    Sure as grows the sod,

    All are made in the image of God.

    Based on Genesis 1:27; Isaiah 65:17-25

    Text: Copyright © 2017 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved. Carolyn gives permission for free use (printing or performing) of this poem to those who support Sojourners.

  47. One thing Senator McCain does NOT have to worry about in the throes of all the life-upending stressors and trauma of receiving this cancer diagnosis, is the worry about how he will pay for his care. Senators have the benefit of a stellar health plan that is completely different from what they are voting on for the American people. Until we pass a law making our government (including Congress) utilize the very same health plan options that they foist upon the American people, I’m afraid we’ll get nowhere. Without skin in the game, few will show the courage John McCain showed in his recent vote. I wish him the best possible outcome with his illness, and my thoughts are with his family.

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