Health Care Reform Goes Circus Crazy

July 29, 2009  
Filed under Pastiche

Just when I thought the fringe couldn’t get any fringier, someone comes along to prove me wrong. Apparently the lunatic fringe has been circulating some secret government plot to kill off old people as part of health care reform.  Gees…. That’s just crazy talk! That’s at least six kinds of crazy.

At first I thought it must be one isolated case, one isolated question, of just one person not understanding a provision in a PROPOSED health care bill. But again, I was wrong. Members of Congress speaking on the floor yesterday are helping to perpetuate this circus craziness.

It seems the Republicans’ health care reform legislation, unlike that of the Democrats, won’t kill off senior citizens. Good to know. The most alarming statement came from Virginia Foxx (R-NC). She concluded her presentation by saying, “the Republican plan would make sure we bring down the cost of health care for all Americans and that ensures affordable access for all Americans and is pro-life because it will not put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.” Wow. Wow. Wow. What more can I say about this “WTF?” moment… other than it’s right up there with her “Matthew Shepard’s death is not a Hate Crime” statement.

Thousands of people die every year because they don’t have medical insurance and cannot get the health care they need. People NEED the OPTION to be able to select a public plan if they cannot afford the ridiculously high rates being charged by the insurance companies. Based on my own personal experience, my rates were increased TWICE within the past 9 months. The last increase was a whopping 30% increase. I knew I wasn’t able to afford that new increase, so my only options were: Cancel my policy and go without health insurance, or increase my deductible to about 3 times what it had been… and all I have is the “incase I’m hit by a bus” kind of coverage.

But, I digress. Back to the circus.

Speaking to tens of thousands of AARP members yesterday during a tele-townhall, the President told them “We’ve made a lot of progress over the last few months… I know it’s not easy. I know there are folks who will oppose any kind of reform because they profit from the way the system is right now.” Forty-four years to the day after Medicare was passed, he pointed out that opponents used the same sort of scare tactics back then: “They’ll run all sorts of ads that will make people scared. This is nothing that we haven’t heard before.” He noted that at the time opponents called Medicare “socialized medicine,” but over the past four decades it has helped seniors live longer, healthier, and more productive lives.

As a perfect example of the scare tactics spread by those looking to protect the status quo, one questioner from North Carolina repeated a myth spread by her home state Member of Congress recently (hhmmmm…. I wonder who that Congresswoman can be?). The audience had a laugh as the President dispelled it:

Q I have heard lots of rumors going around about this new plan, and I hope that the people that are going to vote on this is going to read every single page there. I have been told there is a clause in there that everyone that’s Medicare age will be visited and told to decide how they wish to die. This bothers me greatly and I’d like for you to promise me that this is not in this bill.

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I guarantee you; first of all, we just don’t have enough government workers to send to talk to everybody, to find out how they want to die.

I think that the only thing that may have been proposed in some of the bills — and I actually think this is a good thing — is that it makes it easier for people to fill out a living will.

Obama expanded on his thoughts regarding a living will, which I personally believe everyone should have (for various reasons that you can research for yourself). At the end of Obama’s reply to the questioner, the broadcaster/moderator chimed in with an explanation of which section in the proposed bill she was referring to:

MR. CUTHBERT: Mr. President, she mentioned, not in her question, but in her preview, that she’s talking about Section 1232, the infamous page 425, which is being read as mandatory end-of-life care advice and counseling for Medicare. As I read the bill, it’s saying that Medicare will, for the first time, cover consultation about end-of-life care, and that they will not pay for such a consultation more than once every five years. This is being read as saying every five years you’ll be told how you can die.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that would be kind of morbid. (Laughter.) I think that the idea in that provision, which may be in the House bill — keep in mind that we’re still having a whole series of negotiations, and if this is something that really bothers people, I suspect that members of Congress might take a second look at it. But understand what the intent is. The intent here is to simply make sure that you’ve got more information, and that Medicare will pay for it.
So, for example, there are some people who — they get a terminal illness, and they decide at a certain point they want to get hospice care. But they might not know how to go about talking to a hospice, what does it mean, how does it work. And they don’t want to — we don’t want them to have to pay for that out of pocket. So if Medicare is saying you have the option of consulting with somebody about hospice care, and we will reimburse it, that’s putting more power, more choice in the hands of the American people, and it strikes me that that’s a sensible thing to do.

As someone who is rapidly approaching senior citizen status, I think it’s awesome that I can rest assured knowing that my government is not going to try to kill me off every 5 years, or send someone out to ask me “how do you want to die?” all during my golden years.

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