Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Let Them Eat Cake
I know many people have already commented on this issue, but I just had to chime in with my own two cents.
According to the Chicago Sun Times and the New York Times, the White House said on Saturday that the President will veto Senate legislation to expand health care coverage for uninsured American children.
The measure, which has bi-partisan support, would provide revenue to be used to expand an existing program, The Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is due to expire this fall.
The purpose of the expansion would be to subsidize health insurance for those “with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford insurance on their own.” (Chicago Sun Times). The source of the revenue would be an increase in taxes on cigarettes.
But of course, President Bush is against this. After all, we can’t have higher taxes on cigarettes. That would hurt his friends in the tobacco industry.
Besides, according to President Bush, anyone in America already has access to health care. As he said:
“I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room. The question is, will we be wise about how we pay for health care. I believe the best way to do so is to enable more people to have private insurance. And the reason I emphasize private insurance, the best health care plan -- the best health care policy is one that emphasizes private health. In other words, the opposite of that would be government control of health care.” (President Bush, speaking in Cleveland, Ohio).
Hellooo? President Bush? These are the children of people who don’t HAVE private insurance and can’t get it; either they aren’t working, or they have jobs with no benefits. And no one is saying that the government would be in control of health care. The government would help subsidize health insurance for these uninsured children, which is not government controlled health care at all.
(And what the heck is “private health”? Health that is only visible behind closed doors?)
Everyone knows that going to the emergency room for everyday medical problems is a terrible idea. It clogs up the emergency rooms, causing unacceptable waiting times for people with true emergencies; it is costly and inefficient. The costs are then passed on to everyone else. And worse yet, it does not provide preventive, ongoing medical care for the most vulnerable members of our society – our children.
The ironic thing is, President Bush knows this. Here’s what he said himself about going to the emergency room:
“The problem, oftentimes people go to the emergency room, which is very cost-inefficient. It costs the taxpayers money. The emergency room ought to be used for true emergencies, not for the primary care of health care -- primary health care for people who can't afford health care.”
(President Bush, speaking in Youngstown, Ohio)
So, you may wonder, why is the President so opposed to giving uninsured children health insurance? Here’s how White House Spokesman Tony Fratto explained it:
“The proposal would dramatically expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program, adding nonpoor children to the program, and more than doubling the level of spending,”Mr. Fratto said. “This will have the effect of encouraging many to drop private coverage, to go on the government-subsidized program.” (The NY Times, July 16, 2007).
First of all, how could the program “encourage many to drop private coverage” when the program would only cover those who don’t have coverage in the first place? Secondly, these “nonpoor” children are not exactly rolling in wealth. Not like President George W. Bush and his cronies.
“W” has no idea what it’s like to live in the real world. He was born into money, his family gave him every job he ever had, he never had to work for a living, never had to choose between spending money on food or medicine, never had to wonder where the next dollar was coming from. He never had to worry whether he’d have enough money to pay for his kids’ clothes. He never had to sit up with a sick child and weigh in his mind whether the illness was bad enough to bring the child to the emergency room or whether he could just wait it out and see what happened by the morning. He never had to worry whether the medical care he did get for that child was quality care or not. After all, he has had nothing but quality care from the day he was born.
For him to say that people can just go to emergency rooms for care shows how out of touch he is with the ordinary people in this country.
When Marie Antoinette said “Let them eat cake” when the people were begging for bread, she meant it; she wasn’t even trying to be nasty. She was so out of touch with her people that she didn’t understand that they did not have a choice between bread and cake. They only knew about bread. And they didn’t even have that.
The people George W. Bush is saying should just go to emergency rooms don’t have a choice between emergency rooms and real medical care. But he doesn't see that.
Marie Antoinette paid the price for her ignorance. President Bush will probably never even understand the true cost of his own ignorance, let alone pay the price.