I think Harry T Cook has a good idea-can we get it to the Obama people?
How To Get National Health Care? With the Help of the Senate Judiciary Committee
By Harry T. Cook7/24/09
Somebody needs to tell Rahm Emmanuel and other Obama insiders that the key to adoption of any government-run national health care program is to arrange for people who are regularly victimized by the current system to tell their stories to the same body of senators whose boorish pomposity was on display during Sonia Sotomayor's recent nomination hearing. Bring before the august solons a woman whom I recently met -- not a Latina but an African-American -- whose husband's petition for Social Security disability had been denied, though a back injury has rendered him unable even to do desk work. Her minimum-wage job has no health insurance benefit, but because of her job she has been declared ineligible for Medicaid. She cannot even dream of affording the hundreds-of-dollars-a-month tab for her husband's pain medications. The emergency room staff of the nearest hospital has told her not to bring him there anymore. Let the senators, whose own health care insurance benefits are sleek, secure and government-funded (!), give her their set speeches about bootstraps, deficits, smaller government and the religion of the free-market system as she tries to keep tab on her restive children whom she had to bring with her to the hearing because she can't afford child care. Let the Foghorn Leghorns go on with their patronizing lectures until the woman has the "meltdown" Sotomayor managed to avoid, no doubt to Lindsey Graham's disappointment. Let her have the meltdown on national television while the cameras pan the senators in their immaculately tailored suits and rep ties, seeing but not comprehending those things they have left undone and those they ought not to have done -- leaving it to the venerable Book of Common Prayer to observe that "there is no health in us."* Count on the sensation mongering of television news editors to run and rerun the meltdown until the woman and her children become as famous as Kate and her eight. Fair-and-balanced Fox News would probably not show the senators shuffling their papers while clearly hoping security will goddamn show up ASAP and give the woman and her brood the boot, but other cameras would surely capture the lawmakers' uncaring haplessness. That might be the Harry-and-Louise moment in the 2009 version of the Great Health Care debate. You will remember perhaps the health care lobby's ad hominem commercial that undid the 1993-94 efforts of the Clinton administration to reform health care. But not even all the facts and figures in the world told and retold by endless PowerPoint presentations in support of the kind of reform of the health care system President Obama advocates will do the job. The original Harry and Louise were all gut-level. So would the hearing room scene be -- and it would stand a good chance of shifting the balance as the letters and e-mails and faxes poured into congressional offices asking, in effect, "Isn't anybody going to help this poor woman?" Of course, there are abroad in the land millions of such poor women and their families who have no health care insurance and therefore little to no health care, except what is grudgingly administered by overtaxed emergency rooms. Some American hospitals now station personnel at their emergency room entrances to discourage people who can produce no evidence of insurance or valid Medicaid plastic from demanding treatment. What is true is that health care delivery, as it is so bureaucratically called, is a huge for-profit enterprise based on the overprescription of costly medicines and drugs, sophisticated surgeries and no end of ever more costly tests all rationed out among those able to pay or whose insurance policies bear the cost. The back of that system must be broken in the same way and for the same reasons that the Wall Street banking cabal must be forcefully introduced to the economic realities of a democracy, e.g. the concentration of great wealth and other resources among a relatively few at the expense of the many is unacceptable and will not long be tolerated. What about those who cannot get into health insurance programs or who, when they can, are checkmated at every juncture by the fine print of their contracts and the army of experts in every insurer's headquarters trained in the dark art of jot and tittle to deny claims and permission for treatment? The answer is: A government-of-the-people-by-the-people-and-for-the-people insurance program of the kind that will gather up the aforementioned woman, her husband and their children in an embrace of basic justice. It will be a system designed to bring under control the sky's-the-limit costs for everything from a dose of Tylenol to open-heart surgery. Who will pay if she can't pay? The government? Well, yes, that which is of, by and for the people. And that gets done by requiring those who have so much to part with a little of what they have to help those whose "too little" is all they have. This process is known as "taxation" -- taxes, like club dues, being the price for the privilege of membership. The Republicans ride in alarm, Paul Revere-like, "through every Middlesex village and farm for the country-folk to be up and to arm,"** calling this idea socialism. Communism, even. It is neither; it's just basic decency. As we might say to the white guys in suits, after the manner of Joseph Welch addressing another senator many years ago: "At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"***_____________________________________________________* From the General Confession of the Book of Common Prayer 1928, p. 6: "We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us." ** "Tales of a Wayside Inn, The Landlord's Tale: Paul Revere's Ride," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Poems of Longfellow, The Modern Library of Random House, New York, 1949, pp. 275-276. *** "The Army-McCarthy Hearings, 1954," in Robert D. Marcus and Anthony Marcus, eds., On Trial: American History Through Court Proceedings and Hearings, Vol. II, (St. James, New York: Brandywine Press, 1998), 136-51.
© Copyright 2009, Harry T. Cook. All rights reserved. This article may not be used or reproduced without proper credit.
READERS WRITE [re essay of 7/17/09 Supremely Unfeeling] Ralph R. Carskadden, Seattle, WA: Your mention of the Latina Supreme Court nominee prompts me to . . . comment on what we saw and heard this past week from Washington, D.C., during her confirmation hearings. She was grilled by privileged white males over the possibility that her race, gender and life experience might have something to do with her judgment. As if their race, gender and life of privilege haven't impacted their judgment? In effect they were asking her to be as unconscious and self-deluded as they are in order to serve. Harvey H. Guthrie, Jr., Fillmore, CA: An exceptionally powerful essay! Lecture ScheduleThe Thursday ForumBirmingham Unitarian Church38651 Woodward Ave. (at Lone Pine)Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304Admission: $10/students free Summer University: 10 a.m. ThursdaysJuly 30: News Round-up: What's Happening?Speaker: Harry Cook
WHAT DO YOU THINK? I'd like to hear from you. E-mail your comments to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.ARCHIVES NOW AVAILABLETo read previously published essays and sermons, click on the link below.
View our archive
Add your name to our mailing list