I understand the fundamental opposition conservatives have to healthcare reform. Really. No sarcasm. I recognize that a government-mediated system goes against the grain of their ideology and that most conservatives have a good faith belief that market-based alternatives are superior. I disagree, often in colorful terms, but I get it. There is one repetitive talking point, however, that I do not get. Here is a brief sample of the argument in the hands of D-list winger columnists and Congressmen:

Laura Hollis: "(Godless liberals) want to humiliate you into backing down while they take over your country, dismantle your constitutional protections, seize your assets, tax you into submission, and insert themselves and their appointed bureaucrats between you and your doctor."

Matt Barber: "It’s no longer you and your doctor deciding what’s best for you and your family; it’s Big Brother."

Chuck Norris: "…what is needed in Washington is a truly bipartisan group that is allowed an ample amount of time to work on a compromise health care law that wouldn't raise taxes (for anyone), regulate personal medical choices, ration health care or restrict American citizens."

Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH): "The last thing patients and doctors need is the government coming between them and guiding the choices made regarding their personal health care needs and treatment."

My puzzlement is complete and my question is simple: what insurance do these people have and where can the rest of us sign? What the hell is this fantasy world in which medical decisions are "between patients and doctors" without the interference of panels of dour bean-counters, a labyrinthine and faceless bureaucracy, and actuarial tables? These columnists, screaming protesters, and talk radio audiences apparently live in 1923. Their doctor makes housecalls with his leather bag of Olde Tyme medical instruments and is paid for his services in cash or To Kill a Mockingbird style with bags of apples left on his porch. Or if they do have health insurance, it is a silent and unobtrusive entity that lingers in the background for the sole purpose of shelling out money without question for whatever procedure Chuck Norris desires.

This isn't remotely about patients' rights or the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship. It is, as wingnuts so often fail to grasp, about preferences. A panel of government bureaucrats denying coverage for a procedure deemed experimental is an image worthy of pant-shitting rage; a panel of "reviewers" at Cigna or Aetna doing the same is fine. Having to ask an Obama-appointed bureaucrat for permission to recieve certain procedures is unthinkable; that we routinely do the same thing with our HMOs and PPOs is irrelevant. The mental gymnastics of defending the status quo require either dubious reasoning about why Aetna red tape is better than Uncle Sam red tape or, as is the case with so many demagogues, fabrication of their own curious reality in which we are infinitely free to do as we please and in total control of decisions which affect our lives.

14 thoughts on “COOLIDGECARE”

  • The delusion seems to me to be a fairly predictable one: if you believe that the private sector does everything better than the public based on the fact that the Invisible Hand permits those of us who receive unsatisfactory service to take our business elsewhere–and since a government bureaucrat, who cannot be fired and answers to no one outside of the impenetrable bubble of governmental self-protection–then private insurance is inevitably better because anyone who is put into a position of power will abuse that position with laziness and/or incompetence. Hence, government health-care supervisors will let Granny die because what're you gonna do, you hard-working loser with no recourse? And one can, to be fair, imagine a health-care industry that's totally indifferent to the pain and suffering of its customers. (Wonder why?) The idea is that offering people "bad" insurance is worse than offering people no insurance at all. Because, I suppose, then people are *choosing* to die of untreated illnesses because they *choose* not to be able to afford insurance, rather than dying from supervisory neglect. Apparently this is a key distinction to those of us who are not dying.

    Of course, if you don't like the post office, there's always UPS and Federal Express. If you don't like the bus, you're free to buy a car or ride a bike. The primary goal of the town-hall-shriekers and their corporate instigators is to make people forget that government insurance will not, in fact, be mandatory–that they will always be able, via the bootstrap-pulling hard work that the conservatives are always creaming their shorts over, to buy better shinier insurance. In other words, they want us to make us forget that we will have a choice between options they don't approve of, preferring that we stick to the choice between options they do. (Also–and this tagline has to be attached to all such conservative positions–fuck the working poor. Seriously, fuck them. After all, as Scrooge reminds us, there are always prisons and workhouses.)

  • It's all well and good to discuss hypothetical doctor-patient relationships. I don't have a doctor, nor a medical plan. If I need care I self treat or visit the ER or Urgent Care walk-in clinic. My employer can't afford coverage for his family nor mine. I'm afraid that all I'll end up with under this new plan is more with-holding from my paycheck and a new law that mandates I join an HMO. I don't hear much talk that I will be guaranteed care, merely that it will be illegal for me to be without coverage.

  • Thank Horus you're not blocked here, Ed. Facebook, Youtube and Blogspot are, which is annoying. What's the point in wifi if I can't fill my head with nonsense?

    As a Limey, I've found the indignation expressed in response to the GOP et al's frankly cuckoobananapants allegations about the NHS utterly hilarious. True, the NHS isn't perfect, but I'll tell you what, I've never had a moment's complaint with it and have always been treated with dignity and respect while in the system. And I find the fact that the numpties at Investor's Business Daily didn't know/care that Stephen Hawking, their "the NHS would have killed this great man" example, is fucking British and has been a patient under the NHS all his life, *priceless*.

    Best quote from the Guardian comments?

    "Funny how these rightist Americans like to point out British grumblings about our health service but rarely highlight that most people here think the best cure is to spend more public money on it!

    MPs' expenses? Trident missiles? EU Subsidies? War in Iraq? Doesn't matter what people oppose, eventually almost any campaign will boil down to arguing that the money would be better spent on hospitals, nurses, doctors… not that the Republicans want Americans to know this.

    The NHS ain't perfect, but the overwhelming majority of Brits want a better NHS not private healthcare."

    Fucking right.

  • grumpygradstudent says:

    Ike, nobody is proposing mandatory health insurance. The state of Massachusetts has been trying that approach, and Hilary Clinton talked about it on a national scale, but it's not part of the Obama plan.

    Ed…good call on the ridiculousness of that talking point. I would prefer to have a democratically accountable public servant come between me and my doctor than a company whose sole purpose (to make money) is furthered by denying me care.

  • I think, Ed, that you've touched on the point, but not quite lingered on it enough. Ultimately, your last paragraph is what the entire "debate" around healthcare centers upon. The right doesn't think of this issue in terms of social benefit, and how reforms to healthcare to provide a public option will aid their fellow man and make the nation as a whole healthier. For them, it has never been about that.

    The only stake they have in the argument, the only thing they care about, is the drum-pounding mantra of "The Private Sector Is Always Better". Nothing else matters, all other considerations are secondary — those on the right would rather have a horrible, broken system run by private industry than a perfectly functioning one run by government. For them, it is not a question of effectiveness, though they couch it in those terms to seem more mainstream. To them, it is about reducing government control at all costs. Even when the private sector has repeatedly, time and time again, proven its inability to provide adequate, ethical service, it does not matter because *It's still better than having the Gub'mint do it*. For them, the government running anything (other than the Military and Police that have the tools and the means to oppress them better than anything else) is the worst possible state that thing can be in. It trumps all other failings of a private system, purely because it is public.

    And this is an ideological difference that will not ever be resolved, no matter how well-reasoned the argument.

  • Is that *the* Chuck Norris? If so, I guess it's okay for GOP-leaning Hollywood types to proffer their opinions (see Reagan, Thompson, Heston) provided they agree with the ideology and stick to the talking points.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't spend a lot of time listening to Matt Damon's take on international affairs, but I sure get sick of listening to Palin et al decry actors for speaking their minds.

    Also, didn't I read somewhere that Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer… I swear it was on the interwebs somewhere.

  • “(Godless liberals) want to humiliate you into backing down while they take over your country, dismantle your constitutional protections, seize your assets, tax you into submission, and insert themselves and their appointed bureaucrats between you and your doctor.”

    Because in their twisted moronic brains only anti-abortion wingnuts and a cabal of anti-choice lawmakers can insert themselves between you and your doctor.

    Honestly, I wish 24-hour cable news and talk radio would vanish off the face of the earth. Real journalism is dead. These are truly sad times.

  • @grumpygradstudent: Actually, I think the Act does call for mandatory insurance coverage. I'm quoting from the Summary, not the base text, but it says "Except in cases of hardship, once market reforms and affordability credits are in effect, individuals will be responsible for obtaining and maintaining health insurance coverage. Those who choose not to obtain coverage will pay a penalty of 2.5% of modified gross adjusted income above a specified level."

    Which is not, imo, catastrophic or unreasonable as part of the overall reform, though everyone may not agree with that.

    Something I find very odd about the absolute hysteria with which the Right is reacting – this is not exactly in response to your post, but it's been on my mind – you know, we pay taxes for a lot of things, many of which we don't use ourselves (e.g., I pay school taxes), or which we underutilize, or for which we don't receive full value. Not that we shouldn't scrutinize all taxes and budget changes, but what the hell people! We are talking about maybe-possibly-maybe-not paying some taxes in order to, in some cases, SAVE SOMEONE'S LIFE. I will bitch like hell about frivolous spending or lack of personal responsibility, but this is not the situation in which I want to get all squinchy-eyed and tight-lipped and say "Enough's enough, I'm not paying a single penny that might benefit someone other than myself! The hell with them."

    No one wants to pay more in insurance or taxes, but I'd rather do so than see the present system continue.

  • The Right is reacting so violently because they are desperate. The majority of Americans have gotten wise to their flag- waving, free market crap and told them to stuff it back in November.
    But you wouldn't know it listening to the shit that passes for news in the corporate media. They are pumping up these pathetic teabaggers into a major movement and making it appear that Obama's ratings are slipping because of the circus antics of a few thousand abysmally stupid people. Whatever sells, right? And people peacefully discussing their preference for a public option ( we really want single- payer, Mr. President) don't sell.
    Soon, violence. Because a wounded beast is the most dangerous one.

  • But it's not red tape. That idiom implies a bureaucratic slowdown for spurious reasons or no reason. Please: if you had a medical condition that stood a 4% chance of moderate improvement if you underwent a procedure that cost $7500…and your carrier had to choose between your slender chance of success and contributing to a $150,000 preemie…which would you have it do?

    If you think only one IDET (for example) is weighed against 1/20th of a preemie every day, you are underestimating our ability to coax half-pound babies into the land of the living.

  • Don't forget there is a religious component. Suffering brings you closer to god. And if you are sick, if it was not brought on by your behavior, it must be because of some sinning you did. So there really is no reason for health care. Or any government intervention, really. Because health and wealth are always under individual control in America. if something goes wrong, it is because you just weren't good enough. You just didn't try hard enough. Social services won't get you into heaven. The only way to get to heaven is through pulling on those proverbial bootstraps. And if it never gets you out of hardship, god will look kindly on you when you die.

    I can trace any GOP ideology back to Cotton Mather. It's a talent. The puritan ideology is why capitalism thrives so well here.

Comments are closed.