The Food was Awful…And the Portions Were So Small!

…Republican restaurant review. I know Krugman just recently used this old joke, but I thought of it weeks ago—really I did. Yeah, so the people who think Obamacare is a socialist plot of the devil are incensed that its website doesn’t work well. You’d think they’d be happy the lines to get into the concentration camp were so long. Naah, the main point is to have something to criticize. Hey kids, let’s have a hanging! Ok, fine with me. Well, Republicans, how about we hang as many people as you were willing to string up for the global financial meltdown that cost the economy (and me personally) a total shitload of money and created a worldwide recession. Oh right, that number was zero. But gosh, launching a buggy computer program is MUCH more serious than international financial disaster.

Not that I’m thinking the rollout was handled well. It was pretty botched. Even for such a complicated system, this was really poor performance (note to Republicans—you are permitted to criticize the administration even when it is your own party). BUT, this system will in fact be fixed and will in fact work. Just not as well as the “Medicare for All” that I’ve been recommending on these pages for 2 years, but it will work. Chill. (I’d like to think the Republicans would help make it work, but since we haven’t legalized pot in PA, I’m not going to have that delusion).

Now what about this “I can’t have my old policy!” whining that is all the rage this week. First of all, this only has to do with people who privately purchased their policy (only 6% of insured people) AND whose privately purchased plan does not meet current ACA requirements (an even lower number). Now it boggles my mind that people want a policy that covers only their left lung and allows them to be dropped (or their rates doubled) the first time they actually cost the insurance company $$ by having the nerve to get sick. But fine, you like your really crappy policy. And you’re mad you have to sign up for something different. How dare Obama make that happen! Well, I guess since you are buying your policy on your own, you’ve never had health coverage through a big company—the model that all Republicans just love (though God knows why). Well let me tell you something. I get my coverage through the Fortune 100 company I work for, AND IT CHANGES EVERY YEAR! And rarely for the better. I don’t get to “keep my coverage if I like it.” I’d love to have my 2014 coverage be the same as 2013, but it won’t be, and not because of Obamacare—our coverage always met the ACA standards—but because it’s cheaper for the company (but not, heh heh, for me). So get over it! And stop citing cost comparisons that don’t take into account the subsidies available to people earning up to 400% of the poverty level.

I want to hear less about this nonsense and more about how there will STILL be 10s of millions of people without coverage. And I want to hear why the Republicans who care so much about the inconvenience of a buggy computer program don’t give a rat’s ass about cutting food assistance for poor people.

Maybe the Republicans Really Mean It?

You know, I’m starting to get the idea that the Republicans actually don’t like Obamacare. You have to admit, the first clues were pretty subtle. I mean, they haven’t even voted 50 times to eliminate it—and that’s over how many years? But they’re starting to leave better hints, like shutting down the government (except for the parts that shoot people and blow stuff up).

So now I get it. And after all, how can you NOT be driven into a mouth-frothing, head-exploding, purple-faced Fox News anchor rage by the thought that more people in the country might get health insurance? Really! Because you know what that would mean, don’t you? That’s right. It would mean that when those people got sick or hurt, they’d be able to pay their medical bills! And what self-respecting doctor, nurse, therapist, ambulance service, pharmacy or hospital would ever want anything like that? No real capitalist (or Republican) could in good conscience support anything that would increase their number of paying customers. More income? How commie is that? And doesn’t it just make you sick to think that all those people will now go to the doctor and get their high blood pressure treated instead of doing their patriotic duty by dying of a heart attack or stroke and thus ridding the country of some more Takers? The whole thing leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Or is that reflux? Maybe I’d better see my doctor—good thing I have medical coverage. Too bad about you, though (ha ha, just kidding—it’s not too bad about you).

All right, maybe I turned the sarcasm dial up to 11, but last night I had a conversation with some Republican friends and relatives who were astounded by the fact that I didn’t think Obamacare was pure socialism. Right. I pointed out that getting lots of people to purchase a product from for-profit companies was kind of the core of capitalism (and the point of every tv commercial). But they countered with the idea that it was the government plan to help some people pay  for it that was the socialist-plot part. Hmm. By those lights, then I guess that when the government pays private companies outright for tanks and planes and bombs that we must be looking at pure Marxism. Or is it only socialism when the government spends money to heal people rather than kill them? Guess so.

No Blood for You

During my years as an ER doc, I had many occasions to take care of Jehovah’s Witness patients. These folks, of course, have a religious belief that getting a blood transfusion is an awful sin, and they would always make sure to tell me this whenever they came in. Most of the time it wasn’t an issue, because they just had the usual non-blood-requiring ER problems like heart attacks, sprained ankles, crabs, etc. But every once in a while, somebody would really need some blood, and they just weren’t going to go for it. They’d rather die, it was such a sin. Well, whatever. I’d explain why they needed a transfusion and what might happen if they didn’t get one, and move on with plan B—that’s plan B as in “give IV saline and cross my fingers” as opposed to Plan B the contraceptive product.

Yeah, contraception. This week the Catholics are all up in arms because apparently the businesses they run (such as hospitals, like St. Agnes, where I had my first ER job) have to make sure that the health insurance they provide employees meets certain basic requirements. Requirements that the government only has because sneaky CEOs would otherwise provide health “plans” with $$ saving limitations like, say, covering only one lung, or only diseases that were acquired from the Amish…within 12 hours of filing your claim…which must be handwritten in triplicate…in Urdu. One of the multitude of such government requirements is that the health plan cover contraception. Holy Water, Batman! Non-Catholic employees must be permitted to disobey Catholic dogma? What will the evil government think of next!?! (we know the Catholic employees would never avail themselves of contraceptive services, so it’s only the non-Catholics that are a concern).

But isn’t this impinging on the Catholic employers’ religious freedom? God, I hope so. But that’s just me—the right wingers and bible thumpers went nuts. They’ve been shouting “Freedom!” like Mel Gibson at the end of Braveheart. Got me to thinking, though. What if your CEO was a Jehovah’s Witness? Should he be able to forbid health insurance that covered blood transfusions? What if you worked for a Christian Scientist? They don’t believe in any medical treatment. Your health plan would be real cheap—say two prayers and call me in the morning (if you can).

But Rob, you want to make Catholic businesses provide health care that goes against their beliefs!

Actually, I don’t. Not for a moment. What I want is to get business out of the business of health insurance. It’s absurd that our health coverage (and all too often, lack thereof) depends on where we work and who we work for. Medicare for all.

I kind of see a win-win here, don’t you?