SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: You Don’t Have To Be An M.D. To Understand That Health Care Ain’t Broccoli

BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Yes, I know it’s been debated nearly to death, but a careful reading of some of the more visceral right-wing commentaries (and that includes those of a certain four Supreme Court Justices — I’d say five but one is a mute) in support of a rollback of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (that’s ObamaCare for you cliché conservatives) has lead me to wonder why the media haven’t examined more closely these naysayers’ rather “feeble and infirmed” arguments. So, break out the Extra Strength Excedrin, Tea Partiers, Dr. William is about to offer a few informed rebuttals and interpretations on the subject. Oh, and by the way, Rush, I know that your knowledge of all nature of subjects is widely recognized as scant, but on this one I definitely think it would have been better to have remained silent than spoken out and removed all doubt. Incidentally, did I mention that Republicans were FOR a “mandate” that all Americans be enrolled in a health insurance plan before they were against it? But I digress.

Let me begin by saying that by no means do I consider myself in possession of anything more than the most basic level of Constitutional legal scholarship. I do believe, however, that I can contribute something much more valuable to a discussion of this subject (and countless others that the legal community has profoundly — and purposely — obfuscated for the sake of sustaining an altogether unsubstantiated reason for existing), namely, a wee bit of clarity and plain old common sense. So, without further adieu:

1. A government mandate to purchase health insurance isn’t like states’ mandates to buy automobile liability coverage. Really? For the life of me I can’t fathom the difference. PPACA opponents like to point out that you can avoid the liability insurance mandate simply by choosing not to drive. True, but for that dog to hunt anything other than agitated skunks you’d have to avoid passenger status and, for that matter, walking as well. Auto liability insurance doesn’t protect us from the errant acts of other drivers just while we too are in the act of driving, it’s also designed to protect us from such acts while passengers in a vehicle, or even as pedestrians. If you’re caught without liability coverage, you can lose your license, be fined, or even serve jail time. So, just like mandating automobile liability insurance as a means of protecting the rest us from the unwarranted financial hardships that could incur as a result of some drivers electing to avoid paying for it (lawsuits are absolutely meaningless if the responsible parties possess nothing to settle them with), a primary purpose of the PPACA is to protect the rest of us from having to pay the medical costs of those who might otherwise choose to avoid (or cannot afford) paying for health insurance. And, just like a failure-to-conform penalty attaches to the former, a failure-to-do-so penalty must necessarily attach to the latter.

2. The price to be paid is simply too high. Au contraireHere’s where my if-for-no-other-reason-than-it’s-by-far-the-more-necessary-ethical-and-humane-thing-to-do comes in. We currently spend more on our military than all other nations combined many times over. Personally, I think that that sentence in and of itself ought to serve as sufficient rebuttal. The actual dollars involved (conservatively speaking) amount to around $700 billion annually. I say “around” because it’s such an impossibly huge financial octopus with tentacles everywhere that no one, not the Defense Department, not the Congressional Budget Office, not the Executive Branch, nor the Congress (or anyone else) knows for sure how much is actually involved. For the most part, the powers-that-be simply assign a percentage-of-budget nebulosity to it and move on to other less “important” distributions. Included in that obscene expenditure is funding for some 1000 military bases overseas. I’m forced to use the term “some” because the figure 1000 is an estimate the actual number of which no one knows for sure. No one! So, I ask you, what’s the more necessary, ethical and humane thing for America to be spending $176 billion annually on, and mandating that its citizens obtain: basic health and consequent financial “protection” (millions of American lives are ruined every year because they can’t afford their medical costs), or maintaining a totally immoral and unnecessary, obscenely bloated American military establishment both at home and abroad?

3. All that expenditure won’t actually make Americans healthier. Dead wrong. Those who try to make this argument love to cite a 1993 Rand Corporation study (it’s all they have) that claims the average person gains no substantial benefit from “free” care. Well, if that’s the best they have to offer, they’re on life support. To begin with, PPACA would be free only to those who can show that they simply can’t afford to expend anything on health insurance. Furthermore, if you don’t think that mandated medical insurance — especially that which you can’t be turned down for — won’t offer protection for one’s financial well-being, you have an untreatable  mental deficiency. And to say that mandating health insurance won’t make Americans physically healthier is like saying that compulsory education won’t make children wiser. Studies show that most people — especially women — without affordable health care wait to long to seek treatment and thus are likely to suffer serious health problems. Every study without exception (and there are literally hundreds of them) shows that preventive healthcare and early detection and treatment not only save lives but countless billions of dollars. There aren’t just three reasons to support a healthier America — aside from the fact that we are one of only three developed nations on the planet without universal healthcare — there are 50 million of them! The very idea that the insured among us may have to continue unnecessarily paying $116 billion every year because a radical portion of the population as well as some of the “best and brightest” justices on the highest court in the land seem incapable of distinguishing between mandating health insurance and being forced to consume broccoli is nothing short of bilious!

In closing I’d like to add that one of the more appalling aspects of this entire matter should center around what was a seemingly simple question (I wonder if anyone else picked up on it) Associate Justice Samuel J. Alito, Jr. raised on Day 2 of the hearings. He wanted to know about “forcing people to buy burial insurance” as it might apply to the “mandated” purchase of health insurance. Wouldn’t you think that a sitting judge on the highest court in the land who was about to make a decision that was going to effect the lives (and deaths) of literally hundreds of millions of Americans — and have lasting effects for perhaps the life of the Republic — would be sufficiently knowledgeable of current existing federal law and procedure on that subject as to negate the necessity or purpose of such a question? For your edification, Judge Alito, the government already does mandate that nearly all of its citizens purchase burial insurance, and has done so for the past 75 years. It’s called the Social Security Lump Sum Death Benefit and every working American is being required to pay for it every time Social Security contributions are mandatorily withheld from their paychecks. In the inimitable words of Edward R. Murrow, “Good night, and good luck America.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.

1919 = The number of Americans killed in action in Afghanistan.

100,000 plus = The number of Americans seriously wounded in Afghanistan including those requiring extensive long-term treatment for severe mental trauma.

0 = The number of financial industry kingpins indicted for having committed the most massive FRAUD in American history and wrecking the global economy, plunging untold millions into lives of misery and deprivation.

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