The 18% Solution?

We have been treated to high drama this week at the Supreme Court during three days of arguments about the Affordable Care and Protection Act. Both sides, or perhaps I should say, all sides, have had their say.

And our homegrown Attorney General, Mr. Cuccinelli, has been quoted as saying that he thinks the Supremes will strike down the entire law. Clearly, that is what he, and many others, want.

It will, I am sure, come as no surprise that I hope he is wrong. So please read what follows in that light.

My daddy used to say that you can always tell a lot about a person (he said “a man” but I am inclusifying his language) by what they oppose. And that is surely true in this case, as in many others. Here, Cuccinelli & Company are mightily concerned about what they see as a violation of the U.S. constitution. They talk much about overriding the rights of the people. I am not going to debate that today, although I will say that there are plenty of constitutional scholars who disagree.

So much is focused on the “individual mandate.” But a main reason the Obama Administration proposed this model is because Republicans had at an earlier time supported the idea. Governor Romney even implemented it in Massachusetts.

When President Clinton proposed a model more along the lines of Medicare, the opposition howled–not because they considered it unconstitutional (I have yet to read of a constitutional scholar who doubts the authority of Congress to expand Medicare or something like it to the entire country), but because it was a major expansion of government, and it would wipe out companies. Some opponents suggested the indivdual mandate model. ObamaCare is an effort to work with those companies, and build on their delivery systems.

Something my daddy did not say was something I have come to understand: you can tell a lot about a person by what they propose. And that is true in this case. In dealing with health care, those who oppose this law have proposed a few things–proposals based in a free market ideology that would possibly help 3 million (of 50 million) people without health insurance get covered, proposals to make importation and approval of drugs more efficient, etc. All this seems to be good.

It is just so inadequate.

So, the bottom line is that many oppose either obvious way to provide access to good health care for most all Americans, and that they have no viable solutions to offer.

Maybe, just maybe, they don’t have much interest in helping folks without adequate health care. I hope I am wrong.

I have been thinking that it might help crystallize understanding if Congress–and maybe the Supreme Court–experience what too many Americans experience: let’s let 18% of these officials go without insurance for themselves and their families. This is the current estimate of non-elderly, not children Americans without insurance. Let’s not them see any medical personnel onsite at the government buildings where they work, but instead have to go the nearest emergency room for care. And then let’s make sure that these 18% of the members of Congress don’t have access to Congressional salaries to pay the bill.

Finally, let’s make sure that some additional ones–I am not sure of the percentage here, but I am sure someone can figure it out–have only the most minimal insurance, for catastrophic need for example–because of the high cost of whatever insurance their employer does offer or what they can afford on the open market. Again, they can’t use their Congressional salaries, or if they can, the payments must approximate the percentage it costs the working poor to have insurance.

Oh, I know some will accuse me of class warfare, or even worse.

But I know the truth of another old adage, something my daddy also said: the best way to know the truth of another person is to walk in their shoes. That might help this debate get more real, and less completely invested in high-blown rhetoric and theory.

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