Michael Wolraich's picture

    Hurling Thunderbolts for Health Care

    Yesterday's Massachusetts' election affects me personally. I'm self-employed and have a cheap health plan. Within the first few months of beginning a new plan, I'm already involved in a dispute with the provider, Golden Rule, a subsidiary of UnitedHealthcare. My health plan, I recently discovered, doesn't cover preventive care in the first three months. I don't know why they have this restriction. It would not be a big deal except that no one told me about it, not when I signed up and not when I called to confirm that my physician was in network. I learned of the restriction only when I received the bill for my annual check up, which happened to come two-weeks before the three-month limit. But I'm sure that it's written in my contract somewhere.

    Nonetheless, my dispute is minor, a few hundred dollars. Many people far less fortunate than me with serious diseases and hospital bills running hundreds of thousands of dollars have been left desperate and hopeless because of contractual technicalities. Others have no insurance contacts at all.

    Now it seems likely that the health care bill, which seemed at long last close to passage, will fail like the others. The Democrat-controlled House can't agree with the Democrat-controlled Senate. America will continue to boast the worst health care in the industrialized world. American people will continue to suffer.

    I have an urge to blame voters in Massachusetts, who already have state guaranteed health care and left the rest of us to fend for ourselves. But why should Massachusetts' historical liberalism make the state more responsible than any other? If I blame Massachusetts, I may as well blame Georgia, Oklahoma, Alaska...

    I have an urge to blame Republican legislators, who have put politics ahead of humanity. They know the system is f-cked, but they would rather let people suffer than lose an opportunity to attack the President. They have enthusiastically exploited the ignorance and fear of their constituents for political points. But I didn't vote for those legislators, and they don't give a damn what I think or what I say

    And so I'm left with my own party, the people that I canvassed for, raised money for, and voted for. The Democrats have squandered the greatest mandate that they've had in decades. They will not see 60 Senate votes again for a very long time, and they may find themselves all too soon back in the minority. I stood by them as they permitted the twisted abortion amendment. I stood by them as they dropped the public option. And now I sit horrified as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama throw their hands in the air.

    I need a threat, a penalty, some figurative thunderbolt that I can hurl at the Capitol. But if we Democrats turn against the leaders of the party, when we Democrats turn against the leaders of the party, we will throw the nation into the waiting arms of the oily Republican leaders who gleefully wring their hands in anticipation.

    Nonetheless, unless the Democrats get their act together soon, I see no alternative. The Democratic Party is not a blue hat that you get to wear in November. It's not a rich uncle who hands out plum subcommittee assignments. For elected officials, Democratic Party membership comes with responsibilities. The most important of those, in 2010, is to pass a health care plan. That, more than any other reason, is why we elected you. If you can't do that, take off your blue hat and hand over your subcommittee. Come back to us when you're ready to lead.

    And for those Democrats who don't sit around quibbling haplessly in historic legislative chambers, call your Representative.


    Amen, brother.

    I feel your pain and anger, Genghis. And I didn't even have to pay for my last check-up.

    But in your penultimate paragraph, you refer to "the Democrat Party." I know you're hurting, man. But that's cold.

    Hardcore, eh?

    When these Americans swing against ya, they don't kid around eh?

    Ack, I always do that. Corrected. Someone jerk at TPM once exploded at me for adopting Republican language.

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