I love syndicated columnists. Wouldn’t mind having that gig myself. What I don’t like is that rarely do you see anyone call them on anything they write. I can’t count how many times I’ve sat down and read a column, and thought to myself “Wow, that ones gonna leave a mark!” I later note that as usual, whatever they wrote is gone and forgotten. Guess the internet has spoiled me for newsprint since rebutting anything in print is a smidge more difficult. No matter.
In her March 17th column in Florida Today, Debra Saunders talks about the current health care debacle, and president Obama’s efforts to drag a kicking and screaming Washington into the realm of effective legislation. Her piece is titled “Playing the fear card”, and it’s a fairly disjointed piece that takes a couple readings to digest. It doesn’t do much to tie anything she mentions together, and it certainly does nothing to expound on the idea that president Obama is playing on “fear” to get health care legislation passed. That’s what I was looking for when I reread the piece. Where is the premise that Obama is playing on fears supported?
Her opening paragraph states “As a candidate for president, Sen. Barack Obama rejected “the politics of fear”. Well, he won. So now he’s playing the fear card to the hilt.”
She then goes on to cite the President’s speech in Strongsville Ohio, where he spoke about the fears that U.S. citizens ALREADY have, and that are the originating impetus for his current determination to do something about the health care system. I have to guess that her intent was to paint the President as an opportunist who is trying to exploit the sick in order to further his democrat agenda. I say I have to guess, because she does a pretty admirable job of insulating herself from any criticisms of her own character. She does this by in one paragraph insinuating in a roundabout manner that the woman Obama was citing as an example of what is wrong with health care today is actually responsible for her own plight, because she cancelled her own insurance in favor of falling behind on her mortgage payments, and in the next sympathizing with the poor woman. It’s a bit of a murky read in that portion of her piece, because she adeptly sidesteps actually committing to any real intent behind her mention of Natoma Canfield’s plight.
The best part however comes after she somewhat sarcastically mentions the fact that the woman could not attend the event with Obama because,
“‘Alas, Canfield could not attend, as she since was diagnosed with leukemia and was in the hospital Monday.”
Yes, the best part comes when she says, and this is a conservative talking head remember,
“The ObamaCare fear is not of being poor and not having health care. Medicaid covers the poor. Federally funded public health care clinics offer health, dental and medical care to the uninsured. (Google “free health care clinic” — I found 29 within 11 miles of my home.) The fear is not that if you are sick that you will be denied health care. Canfield is in a hospital, and according to Obama, “She expects to face a month or more of aggressive chemotherapy.”
Do you see it? That one paragraph, that one set of blithely typed and published words says so much about how conservatives really think. It’s amazing really. Who would have thought that it was so simple? You get sick, just hop on over to your local clinic and you’ll get all the care you could need. I certainly wish I’d have known that five years ago when I had to have a massive amount of dental work done. Silly me, I went and applied for a credit based insurance system, and paid a nice fat interest rate on over eight thousand dollars worth of dental work. If I had only known I could have gone to my local federally funded clinic and gotten it done for, well, she doesn’t say what it would cost, but since it’s federally funded it must be practically free. You see, I did not have the cash on hand to pay the bill, and I could not afford insurance, and of course my problem was a pre existing condition, so stupid me went and found a way to pay for it myself. Imagine that; A non conservative who handled the responsibility himself. In truth though, I got lucky. I made decent money, and did not have to contend with serious illness or being unable to work.
But this is not about me. No, this is about how a conservative seems to be saying that we don’t need to worry about people like the woman Obama says he is fighting for, because by golly they can get all the care they need. Cancer? Going to lose your home? Not going to be able to work for months after treatment, if ever again? Pshaw! Don’t be such a baby! The free clinic will take good care of you. I’m sure that free clinic will make sure you can get all those insanely expensive prescriptions filled without a single hitch. And I am sure that any surgeries, advanced treatments, therapy and the like will all be top notch with no delays. So what if you have no home left to go to, no food to eat, no way to provide for your family anymore; the free clinic will make sure you get the best health care possible in America.
Yes I’m being ridiculous and facetious. No, Medicaid does not cover the poor. It covers SOME of the poor. And it ignores or excludes hundreds of thousands more, if not millions, deemed to make too much money to qualify. Like my better half who at one time was lucky to bring home eight hundred dollars a month working full time, yet was told that she did not qualify because her income was too high. It was suggested that she should let go of her home, move into government subsidized housing, apply for welfare, and THEN she might qualify. See, our current system is oky doky don’t ya know.
Saunders then goes on to say that the fears regarding the current state of health care are in fact real, that insurance rates are in fact ridiculous, that in fact things really are broken. And of course, Mrs. Canfield just made a “risky” decision by dropping her health insurance instead of choosing to drop her house, and now is going to lose it anyways. Lets ignore that the woman could very well have been hoping to ride out the current economic mess, and gotten back on track when things were once again looking up. No no no. It’s her fault you see. She had a choice, and she made the wrong one, although I can’t say as I would ever want to be in the position of having to make such a decision myself. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t pretty much sums that one up. But Saunders seems to feel that the woman somehow made the wrong choice. Apparently the woman should have known she’d be sick again.
All of this is absolutely asinine because, in any other case, were massive health care overhaul not knocking on the door courtesy of a ballsy democratic president, the conservative line would be that the government is doing too much, that social programs should be cut, that we should be lifting regulation off of insurers and the health care industry so that they could cut costs and offer better rates. Say bye bye to those wonderful free clinics. And we’ve had it amply demonstrated how grateful big industry is when they get tax breaks and lax regulation, by thier shipping of jobs overseas and stagnant wages for the workers who are left, while they put those breaks to good use in bumping up their market values and corporate bonuses.
Her line is that it’s not the group health market that is a problem, but the private insurance market. Has this woman even been to a doctor in the last twenty years? Has she seen what an overnight hospital stay costs? Are you going to tell me that a night of lying in a hospital bed, while nurses make four overnight checks on your vital signs and write them in a log is worth two grand? That one hundred and fifty dollars is reasonable for a doctor spending twenty minutes putting a tongue depresser down your throat and a light in your ear? I won’t even go into the recent brouhahas about all the fraud and lawsuits flying around regarding these private groups. It’s just too obvious.
These private groups are every bit as culpable as the insurance industry. They work hand in hand, lobbying for legislation beneficial to their causes, stonewalling any attempts to regulate their activities, and justifying one price hike after another as just the reasonable course of business. They get caught over and over again for fraudulent charging practices, inflating medical costs and earn their reputations for shadiness.
This is just too ridiculous to be honest. The truth is that our health care system is not a health care system any longer. While bad when George W Bush took office, it went straight to free market hell when he let industry contributions buy providers their way into crafting their own legislation. Our health care system is no longer about providing health care. It’s about selling a commodity, at the highest prices the market will sustain. It’s now the very epitome of Republican values. The problem is, health care isn’t a commodity. It’s not a product to be sold to the highest bidder. It’s a matter of life and death. It’s a matter of the greatest country on earth failing to ensure that its citizens all benefit from the best health care on the planet. In America, people die all the time. It’s just how life is. The pathetic shame of it all is, that there are too many who don’t have to die, but will, because others think you have to pay to play, and that only winners, or in other words, the wealthy, should be able to live.
Obama is not playing the fear card. George Bush dealt that hand.Obama is just playing the hand thats been dealt. It’s the fact that he might win that doesn’t sit too well with conservatives, because then we might all be able to afford health care. And that just makes everyone a little too equal for their tastes.