Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Send 'Em A Bill!"

I'm sure Jesus is pleased to know that he is loved in Wakulla County, FL. And the Good News is that Jesus loves Wakulla County right back! And he loves Leon County. And he loves Alachua County. And he loves the place where you reside, too!!

Even better, Jesus loves the people in those counties! All of 'em! Even the illegal immigrants in those counties with no health insurance, and the person who just lost their job and can't make the COBRA payments to keep their health insurance. And even the self-employed person who must make the decision: do I shell out $600 a month to Blue Cross Blue Shield... or do I use that $600 a month to pay down the debt that I have incurred from school, from car payments, from credit cards?

These are the realities that were largely getting lost at the health care town hall meeting with Congressman Allen Boyd in the rural Wakulla County. The room was packed with partisans who (a) had health insurance of some kind already and (b) didn't want to listen to anything that didn't jive with their version of the facts. Fortunately for them, they had plenty of people voicing the same opinion over and over: there's nothing wrong with the health care insurance industry in our country, and "guvment" needs to stay out of things (the latter part of that argument is hilarious given how many people in the room were on Medicare, which is a 'guvment' delivered health care model!) And only one of the Medicare recipients wanted to give up his subsidized health care. None of the TriCare4Life (a veteran's managed care plan) wanted to give up theirs. The Marine, who gets his health care through the VA, hates his 'guvment' insurance because he can't have shoulder surgery because it was deemed "unnecessary" (probably falls outside the scope of his injuries from Vietnam)... and he has to wait 18-months for other surgeries.

"This is your guvment insurance!" he intoned, to the cheers of the crowd in the room.

Most of the people called on to speak were men. All of them were white. And the retired men, whose wives work for the state of Florida, are covered under their spouses Capital Health Plan. (Always a joy for a gay person to hear about the straight perks of marriage!)

One woman told her story of working for the state, having paid premiums to CHP during her employment, only to have them deny her claim when she got sick. Her illness took a toll on her, eventually resulting in her losing her state job, and her benefits. Now, saddled with a pre-existing condition, no other private insurance company would take her. She and her doctor got her into a drug trial... but then it turns out she had been given the placebo. So, now she's on disability. The room was remarkably quiet as she told her story. But then when she made a plea to have access to health insurance through a federal program such as Medicare before she's 65, the crowd began to rebel and boo her. After all, she's disabled now; she can't EARN her health care coverage.

Boyd played to the crowd. He was "surprised" to learn that CHP would actually deny coverage to a customer (happens a lot, Congressman!) He consistently spoke against any plan that would cover "illegal immigrants", and he kept going back to his Blue Dog Democrat moniker (meaning, "I'm a conservative, red-blooded, Budweiser-drinkin' 'Merican"). When a woman tried to get him to take responsibility for the rising costs of health care by regulating the insurance industry more, he spun it around to play to the base in the room.

"Oh, you WANT guvment to get involved in insurance?!" The crowd responded with the appropriate boos and hisses.

And then there was the question about why there are so many uninsured Americans. Boyd claims it is because of the young, healthy people who have opted not to get health insurance. (He never thought to say that unless they have a job where the employer offers benefits, they are still too poor from college loans to buy their own). Boyd noted such a decision to forgo health insurance puts the young person at risk if something, such as an accident, happens to them.

Contemplating this scenario of a young UNinsured person in an accident, a woman toward the back of the room, with the stereotypical big southern hair and overdone make-up growled, "Send 'em a bill!"

I bet that's what Jesus would say, too! Because Jesus never cared about the poor, the weak, the least.

Yes, Wakulla loves Jesus. Following him? That's different.


frdougal said...

Very helpful post, it certainly helps this Brit to understand a public debate that to us is perfectly alien.

Phoebe said...

I may need to bring the story of the rich young ruler.. who had everything and kept all the laws needed to inherit eternal life... into the health debate.. something about sharing his wealth and health benefits ... and ACTUALLY following Jesus.

SCG said...

frdougal: at times like these, I felt like an alien in my own land.

Phoebe: yeah, I thought about the rich young ruler, too! Isn't "sharing" one of those big lessons during the kindergarten years? How easily we forget!

Anonymous said...

FrDougal really doesn't know the half of it over here. It is really bad when a Blue Dog Democrat has such a following. Am I glad that I've had the Health Insurance that I am privileged to have because my husband served in the Navy, and I hope we pass a great bill that helps everyone.


SCG said...

Peggins, the strangest part was that the crowd was somewhat hostile toward Boyd... even though he kept telling them he wasn't going support the bill in it's current form. Clearly, they just wanted to be angry.