John Boehner, Republican Representative from Ohio and House Minority Leader, appeared on one of the Sunday morning news talk shows a couple of weeks ago to start the pre-emptive attacks on President Obama’s as yet incompletely articulated health care plan. President Obama has set out several issues that need to be addressed, but is leaving it up to Congress and the stakeholders to come up with the specifics of a plan to address those issues. One of the issues is providing health care to the 41,000,000 Americans without health insurance. President Obama has stated that there must be some public health plan component. The health insurance industry (and their paid minions, lobbyists and legislators included) are having conniptions.

Rep. Boehner, always articulate (and well coifed), stated (and this is from memory so it may not be exactly word for word): “Our goal is to ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable health insurance.” (I have to start by asking who “our” is. House Republicans? Republicans generally? The health insurance industry?)

More significant is the stated goal of “quality, affordable health insurance” for every American. Think about that for a second. Almost everyone who reads this will say “Hey, Mikey, what’s wrong with quality, affordable health insurance for every American?” The answer to that question is absolutely nothing. It just completely misses the point. The goal is not to provide quality, affordable health insurance, the goal is to provide quality, affordable health care. Insurance may be a means of achieving the actual goal, but it is only a means to an end, it is not the end itself. The problem with Rep. Boehner and his ilk is that the very way they phrase the problem discloses that they already have a bias toward a particular conclusion, which is that the answer (and the only answer) is to extend private health insurance to more people. Apparently, Rep. Boehner has short term memory issues. (Actually long term, too). Am I wrong, or hasn’t Hillary Clinton been shouting in the wilderness about health care for every American for maybe twenty years or so? Sounds like a great plan, John, but where have you (and your masters) been for the last twenty years? If the solution is so simple, why do we still have the same problem twenty years later?

The Republicans are philosophically opposed to any form of public health plan. (If I had a nickle for every time a Republican used the menace of “Socialism”, I would be one rich son of a gun.) The Republicans are opposed to any form of public health plan, but how do we extend private health insurance to the poor and the working poor? More specifically, who pays for it? If public funds are used to help pay in whole or in part for private health insurance (i.e., by subsidizing the cost for the poor and working poor), it is still “Socialism.” If we use public policy tools to coerce (if you don’t provide health insurance we will tax you) or cajole (if you do provide health insurance we will give you a credit) employers to provide health insurance, it is still “Socialism.” (Of course, providing tax loopholes for the rich in the delusional belief that their largesse will “trickle down” to the masses of the lower classes is “Socialism”, too, but that is a topic for another day.)

In this instance, I am not questioning Mr. Boehner’s integrity – I assume that he (as a good Republican) truly believes that the insurance industry is pure of heart and mind and that extension of private insurance is really in the best interest of the country. I just think he is hopelessly out of touch with reality. The single biggest problem with American healthcare is that access to healthcare is controlled more by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries than it is by doctors. Health insurers increase profits by denying coverage, not by allowing greater access to healthcare. Because they are public companies, there greatest duty of loyalty is to their shareholders, not to their insureds. How many Americans have health insurance plans which do not cover basic wellness? (Checkups, blood pressure monitoring, cholesterol monitoring, diet and nutrition counseling, etc.) Americans, in large part, get healthcare after they need it, not to prevent them from needing it in the first place.

The right wingnuts will tell you that with public health care, a government bureaucrat will pick your doctor and tell you what treatment you are entitled to. (You are supposed to be terrified by this prospect.) The reality now is that an insurance company bureaucrat makes those decisions. (How many of you have been denied coverage for a specialist or a procedure because the insurance company decided it was not “necessary?”) The truth is that in most industrialized countries with public health systems, you get to pick your doctor, healthcare costs less overall (because it is a break even endeavor, not a for profit endeavor), and the quality of healthcare is better (measured by objective standards like longevity and infant mortality.) Anybody who tells you horror stories about public health systems is either telling you stories from thirty years ago, or they are just outright telling you lies. The fact that every other industrialized nation on the planet manages to provide better quality healthcare more cheaply than we do suggests that maybe we don’t have the best system.

Every American should have access to quality, affordable healthcare. That is a fundamentally simple proposition. The fact that many do not is a disgrace.

As a note, I understand that Rep. Boehner is not the only Republican involved here, but as the House Minority Leader he is one of the leading faces and voices of his party. I also understand that calling a U.S. Representative a “dumbass” might not seem terribly professional (or articulate.) The original working title for this post was “John Boehner is a moron”, but then I recalled that “moron” is actually a term of art and has a specific meaning. A “moron” is defined as someone with a mental age between seven and twelve or an IQ between 50 and 75. I am prepared to concede that John Boehner’s IQ is at least well above average and significantly above 75. Dumbass is a more generic term with no clear definition. I use it here more in the sense of philosophical myopia. I also understand that Rep. Boehner is not the only Republican afflicted with this condition, and that there are many Democrats who should probably get tested, as well. (Of course, they all have a great insurance plan which is not available to you, even though you pay for it for them. Kinda funny how that works, huh?)

Michael Baumer

Law Office of Michael Baumer

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by Michael Baumer