Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Healthcare Reform, Part Two: What If Sarah Palin Was A Liberal?

You know who is opposed to healthcare reform?

People that have heathcare.

People like this guy:

…my health care system works fine and has been working fine since finding a good job over 30 years ago after working at learning in school and not playing hooky and using drugs. my health care systems doesn't need reforming. what needs reforming are those lazy, drug addict deadbeats who think I'm paying for their trip trough life. Swim or sink baby cause all I have for your kind is an anchor not a lifesaver…

That was posted under ABC’s George’s Bottom Line by fred (Aug 16, 2009 10:58:20 AM).

You know who else is opposed to healthcare reform?

Ignorant people. Really Ignorant people.

Read down a couple more comments under that same post and you’ll find this comment from Jeff G (Aug 16, 2009 10:59:21 AM):

She [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius] and the rest of Obama's side plan is to save money through eliminating people via health care. It will save Social Security and other costs that are out of control. The plans are not clearly written but lay very few details and give incredible power to the Executive Branch. Today throughout the USA anyone can go to a hospital and receive care if needed, so the numbers given are a myth. Do we want to give up our personal decisions to the government? [emphasis mine].

You know who else is opposed to healthcare reform?

Stupid people. Really, really stupid people.  People like rplat (Aug 16, 2009 10:59:56 AM) who said:

I can still borrow money or sell my house and contract with a doctor to obtain any critical care that is disapproved by insurance. Under the proposed socialist aberration I will have no rights and no options. Let them sell you this frightening socialist manifesto and you will become wards of the state to be dealt with as the state sees fit. [emphasis mine].

Read the articles, read the comments, listen to those people who are disrupting those townhall meetings. Listen to the pundits and the talk show rabble rousers.
A lot of people are opposed to healthcare reform. Especially the proposed public option.
So who’s for it?
The woman who used to be Sarah Heath is for it.
See Sarah Louise Heath was a girl who went to high school in some podunk little American town.  She wasn’t too bright, but that didn’t matter because she was pretty and popular. She played sports. She went to church. She had a boyfriend she was in love with.  Her family wasn’t rich, her dad was was a school teacher, her mother was the school secretary. There really wasn’t anything special about her, other than her looks – that was her only real asset.  She entered a couple of local beauty pageants and even won a few, but it didn’t go anywhere. She went off to college, she didn’t do terrible, she didn’t do great, and she got the kind of degree they give to pretty popular girls. 
Then she got the kind of job that they give to pretty popular girls who’ve won a few small town beauty pageants and aren’t all that bright - she ended up on TV.  She wasn’t bad at it but she wasn’t cut out for the big time either - but then again she didn’t have to be. She just needed to read the sports scores and wear a low cut blouse.
She married her high school sweetheart, Todd. They had a couple of kids. They bought some land and built a house on a lake – they got a really, really good deal from the bank.  Almost too good in fact. They were suspicious, but the bank said they only had to pay the interest for five years, then they could refinance. Besides, everybody was doing it. The government wouldn’t let the banks screw you, right?
She thought maybe she’d like to do something else. Hell, she even thought about running for mayor of her little town.
Then the economy tanked. Todd, who worked construction, lost his job.  Well, he didn’t lose it, he knew where it was, but nobody was building houses any more.  So he took odd jobs and worked where he could and raced snow mobiles on the weekend.  Things weren’t great, but they were OK.  Sarah still had her looks and her job with its all important benefits. The kids needed glasses and braces and they’d get strep throat once or twice a year. They needed flu shots and inoculations for school, it was a damned good thing her job had healthcare and dental.
Then Todd wrecked his snow machine during a race. Instead of winning the purse, he broke his leg.  The insurance covered some of it, but not all, not even close.  The part they had to pay wiped out what little savings they had. And, of course, Todd couldn’t work with a busted foot, hell he couldn’t even race.
But they were managing.
But then Sarah got pregnant again.
They loved kids, and they’d wanted another one, but the timing sucked.
Five years were up. They owed a hell of a lot more than they could pay on that house. Turns out the government could let the bank screw you. And screw pretty much everybody else too as it turned out.
They lost the house – and they sure as hell couldn’t get any credit after that. They moved into a rental. Todd finally started getting some unemployment benefits, but it barely covered the cost of groceries and gas.
They sold the truck and bought an older car.
There were complications with the pregnancy.  The doctors wanted some extra sonograms and some special tests.  The insurance company wouldn’t pay for it. They were worried, but there wasn’t much they could do. They sure as hell didn’t have the money for ten grand worth of tests that nobody was sure they really needed.
Besides the other kids had been healthy, this one would be too. 
Todd’s leg healed slowly.  He was going to need physical therapy. The insurance didn’t cover that.
Sarah worked up until the day she went into labor.
They really should have gotten those tests. The baby had Down’s Syndrome. He was going to need special care for the rest of his life.  The insurance wasn’t going to cover a lot of it.  But they were grateful for the part it did cover.  If they ever lost that insurance they’d be screwed, because, of course, the baby’s condition had been “pre-existent” pretty much from the moment he was conceived.
Sarah took maternity leave.  A month.  She asked for another couple of weeks, because of the baby and his special needs.  The station granted it. She was kind of surprised – it was almost like they didn’t need her back.
Sarah was feeling pretty bad. Post partum depression. She tried to talk to the doctor about it, the one at the emergency room when she had to take the baby in for a high fever – but the doctor didn’t have time or the energy or the interest – and sure as hell she didn’t have the money to see somebody who would actually listen.
She started a Facebook page to talk about her feelings – but nobody read it. She was still reasonably attractive, but her small town high school popularity was long gone.
The Economy was pretty bad.  The station needed to make some cutbacks.  Letting Sarah go at the end of her maternity leaves wasn’t exactly legal. Todd and Sarah saw an attorney - and ended up eating pancakes and baloney sandwiches for dinner for the next two weeks because the lawyer’s consulting fee finished off what little cash they had left.  People with jobs can afford to sue employers who violate the law.  People without regular employment and with four kids and a special needs baby can’t.
Sarah needed glasses, she couldn’t see without them.  But unlike the old days she couldn’t just go to the eye doctor.  She settled for a of pair generic reading glasses she bought for $20 at the Fred Meyers. She went without breakfast for two weeks to pay for them.  They gave her screaming headaches.
She signs up for WIC and she tries not to see the looks she’s getting when she pulls out her food stamps at the register. Screw those people, she’s got kids to feed. She’s not too proud to do whatever it takes.
Somehow, she still managed to gain weight, mostly in the hips and ass – she never had time to lose the baby fat and she isn’t eating right, cheap stuff, sugars and starches was about all they could afford. Somebody told her she should run to stay in shape or maybe join a gym. It is important to stay healthy. Yeah. Sure.
The good news was that their oldest daughter was pretty and popular, if not particularly bright. She had prospects. She’d be moving out soon, going off to college, one less mouth to feed. She had a small scholarship, but it was still going to cost them plenty. They had no idea how they were going to pay for it but they didn’t have the heart to tell her no. Beside, they really, really hoped that the girl would do better than they had.
They prayed for it, every night, and twice on Sundays.
Todd still couldn’t find work. Not too many prospects for an uneducated laborer with a gimpy leg. Sarah got a job waiting tables at the local Mugshot Saloon in downtown Wasilla. They didn’t offer benefits – well other than the drunks who pinched her chubby ass every night.
Then one day their daughter came home and tearfully told them that she was pregnant.
She was 17.
And the father was an 18 year old high school dropout who talked about maybe getting a job on the Slope. Someday. Then they could get married. His mother was a real nice lady with a meth addiction.
What do you suppose Sarah’s prospects are now?
You want to know the difference between a liberal and a conservative?
You know who’s opposed to healthcare reform?  People who have healthcare and don’t want you to have any – it’s sort of like Heaven in their minds, it’s only good if the riff raff can’t get in too. 
You know who’s opposed to reform? People who have healthcare and think that anybody who doesn’t must be a drug addict or a boozer or nothing but a lazy parasite on society.  Only losers don’t have healthcare, and we don’t owe losers a goddamned thing. 
You know who is opposed to healthcare reform? People who think that Emergency Room visits for poor people are free.
You know who’s opposed to healthcare reform? People who think that having 46 million Americans who use the emergency room as their primary healthcare provider is somehow cheaper for the taxpayer and the people who pay for health insurance.
You know who opposes reform? People who think the government is going to balance the budget by turning old people into Soylent Green. 
You know who’s opposed to healthcare reform? People who own houses – because they can always sell them and use the money to treat their kid’s leukemia or type II diabetes or a lifetime of Down’s Syndrome.
And you know who’s opposed to healthcare reform?
People who have million dollar book deals.
That’s who.
Part 1 of this series is here.


  1. Really, really good post, Jim. Thank you.

    I am curious about the people who think it's easy to sell a house in this market without taking a hit on it. Most places, property values are in a slump. And banks aren't exactly free and easy with loans right now. It's a pretty bizarre assertion that "If I need money I can sellmy house or borrow." Sell to who? Borrow from whom?


  2. See, I don't think it's a matter of conservative or liberal. I think it's a matter of douchebag or not douchebag.

    I like to think of myself as a conservative non-douchebag. :)

    (And watch, the definition of a conservative non-douchebag is probably "liberal") ;)


    I just wanted to say douchebag one more time. Ha! There's another!

  3. Long-time lurker, first-time commenter.

    This has become my favorite blog to follow. Not just because I agree with your opinions most of the time, but because I like your "no bullshit," common sense attitude. I wish more people had it, but unfortunately, we've descended into an age where it's perceived to be a sign of weakness to acknowledge the validity others' viewpoints, or see the value in civil discourse and compromise.

  4. It makes me wonder where people were during the Civics Class lecture on how and why governments are formed. It's like they get to the "provide for the common defense" in the preamble and then close the book. "Whelp, that's all we need to do. Screw promoting the general welfare or securing the blessing of liberty."

  5. Just keep the government's hands off my wife's Medicare.

    In 93 I had to have some complex hand surgery. The surgeon charged $13,000 plus in-hospital costs. I paid a grand total of $2000.

    The last time I had this surgery in 2006, not only was I paying part of the insurance, about $2500/year, his fee had risen to $17,000 and they cut their payment to about $4500, and since it was now out-patient surgery the hospital costs were a fraction of what they had been. Fortunately for me, while he no longer accepted my insurance he agreed to accept their payment as 80% full payment, my cost was under $2000. But I really don't want to ask him again.

  6. Hard to argue with the plain truth, Jim.

    Well, unless you are someone who can't see the plain truth when you're shown it 4 or 5 different ways.

    Or if you can't hear the plain truth because a bunch of people who "say" they have your best interest at heart (but are the ones making a pile of money from the status quo) keep shouting at you telling you the plain truth is a bunch of lies.

    Or if you couldn't care less about the plain truth because that doesn't fit what "everybody knows is really true, not these liberal lies they keep pushing on decent folk!"

    Oh hell! The plain truth may be hard to argue with, but it never gets to that because the only ones who are paying attention to the plain truth are the ones who don't need to argue with it in the first place.

    Color me disenchanted, but ultimately hopeful. I'd rather be a disappointed optimist than a vindicated pessimist.

  7. Steve, what is this general welfare of which you speak?

    Thanks, Jim. Excellent post. I've started the Digg parade, if anyone wants to jump on the bandwagon.

  8. The discussion about this particular issue is getting to be as bad as abortion or gay marriage.

    I'm not usually a big Barney Frank fan (Rep. D-Mass), but his recent 'outburst' at a 'Town Hall Meeting' was right on the money. There can be no serious discussion about this (or nearly ANY other politicially charged topic) until there is calm discussion. I won't ask for rational discussion, because feelings have their place in the discussion as well, but for the sake of all our sanity, CALM would be nice.

    Link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090819/ap_on_re_us/us_health_care_frank

    n.b.: the use of quotes in this comment is because I'm using other people's words.

    'outburst' here is a real answer to a really flagarant distortion.

    'Town Hall Meeting': this one comes the closest to the moniker of any of the recent highly choreographed 'Public Discussion.'

  9. Circumstance.


    How is this so difficult?

  10. ntsc,

    I wouldn't feel bad about asking for (or having received) a discount(?).

    I've noticed that doctors, hospitals and labs, regularly get paid a "discounted" rate of 50% from the insurance company (volume?) and then your percentage "share" is based on the "pre-discounted" full price. Your doctor still made out just fine.

    The "full fare" is for the poor suckers in the emergency room who can't afford it no matter what the cost eventually is. The write-off for the hospital looks better that way.

  11. Janiece, I think he was CJCS back in the 70s under Carter.

  12. And Nathan makes an excellent point. And that write-off is yet another bill on the taxpayer. Frankly I'd rather have a system and a tax up front where I can see it.

    However, I think there are some very significant concerns. I think the GOP has some legit points. But I think any real conversation is getting lost in the noise.

    I'm going to predict that whatever we get out of this - will be more of what we've got right now. I'm seriously doubting that they can pull any real reform off.

  13. *sigh* I utterly hate it that The Onion provides such insight:


  14. I'm going to predict that whatever we get out of this - will be more of what we've got right now. I'm seriously doubting that they can pull any real reform off.

    Only bigger, costlier, and mandatory for everyone. If they cave on the "public option," anyway.

    I doubted they'd get "real reform" as soon as they let the congress start formulating the bill. Too many of them too deeply in the pockets of the insurance industry to get anything resembling a decent chance of fixing this fucking abortion we call "health care" in this country.

  15. Nathan

    This paticular MD is one of the best in the world at this paticular surgery, although that isn't why I first went to him. I had broken a hand bone on a Friday afternoon and he would see me on Friday not send me to an emergency room.

    If my insurance hadn't yet again changed their payment scheme to MDs not in their network, I would have no problem.

    The $5600 that my insurance has ruled is reasonable and customary for this surgery in 2006 is utter bullhocky (in 93 they felt $12,000 was reasonable and customary), he is/was willing to acept that as payment in my case. However they have changed their share from 80% to 50%. I could deal with that, but they have also ruled that because he is not in-network, even though the hospital he practices from is in-network, they will only pay 50% not 80% of the out patient surgical costs and the $4000 anual cap does not cover that new 30% that is mine. If I can put this off 3 years until Medicare kicks in the rules change back.

    The state AG is in the process of sitting on this company very hard, but doesn't yet have a consent decree on the in plan hospital being treated as out of plan.

    I fondly remember going to an Army dentist, being told all my wisdom teeth were growing in sideways and had to go, and his carefully scheduling each extraction for my first duty day of the week and putting me off duty for the next 3 days as well. OK, I had one unpleasant afternoon, but I also had 10 consecutive days off. Four times at no cost to me.

  16. In the above comment the $12,000 should have been $13,000.

  17. Ah, yes. Thanks for that memory, NTSC.

    I had my wisdom teeth pulled by a military dentist who was going through an ugly divorce and had had a very bad morning in court. She was a bit pissed at the world.

    My face was black and blue for a week.

  18. I thought this was a great post and I have excellent health care and do think it is important for everyone else to have that too.

    I just wonder though if at any point we become responsible to any degree for our own circumstances?

  19. TUC, I think that we are all responsible for how we deal with our circumstances - and I'd be the first to say that many folks are in dire straits because they didn't take responsibility (the personal catastrophes of the housing market collapse come to mind here - a lot of people should have read the fine print). However, I'd also be the first to point out that many, many fine hardworking people have come upon hard times in recent years through no fault of their own (the housing market collapse again comes to mind - what if you were the janitor at Merrill Lynch and you lost your job because your bosses were greedy assholes?).

    Sometimes, more than sometimes lately, good people are overcome by circumstance through no fault of their own. Certainly they have a responsibility to themselves and those around them as to how they handle it - but morally, ethically, don't we as their neighbors in the richest country in the world have some responsibility to help our fellows? Does not a government, a nation, have a responsibility to take care of its citizens? Otherwise, why does it exist in the first place?

    Responsibility is a two way street I think.


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