Master Debaters

Romney gave few concrete details about how he would address healthcare.

Did you tune into the first presidential debate last night?  It was less than riveting. As many astute observers noted, neither candidate mentioned women, gay rights or poverty. There are two more debates, so maybe next time, right?

What they did mention was taxes. They spent 30 minutes talking about taxes.

I don’t know about you, but from where I sit –mother, freelance writer, homeowner, lesbian, with an annual income  below $40,000—this is not really a burning issue. As far as I can tell, the only people who are that concerned with taxes are people with a lot of money that could be taxed.

I don’t think that taxes matter that much to my mother-in-law, who works as a home health aide and who is covered on her husband’s dental insurance but not on his medical insurance because the premium is too high.

I don’t think that taxes matter that much to my 22 year old niece who is taking out thousands of dollars in student loans to cover her tuition and rent.

And I’m pretty sure that taxes are not the most important issue to my friend who was laid off a year ago and is struggling to pay her mortgage and her Cobra premiums so that she can get medical care she needs for several chronic health conditions.

I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Unlike taxes, health insurance matters to everybody.

Unfortunately, the discussion about healthcare was frustrating. Obama is now in the position of explaining why the tepid piece of legislation that is the Affordable Care Act should not be repealed, blandly repeating all the same stuff  about getting rid of preexisting condition clauses and letting all those lucky people with private insurance stay on their current plan

Mittens Romney, on the other hand,  spent the whole time waxing poetic about state rights and individual responsibility.

One of the magnificent things about this country is the whole idea that states are the laboratories of democracy. Don’t have the federal government tell everybody […]what kind of Medicaid they have to have. Let states do this.

Actually, the let-the-states-decide approach is just magnificent  at creating health disparities. It’s an excellent recipe for inequality.  Let’s not make things more complicated than they have to be. At the end of the day, everyone really needs the same thing: to be able to get medical treatment for themselves and their children when they need it. It’s not rocket science.

But Mittens persisted. Oh yes he did.

I know my own view is I’d rather have a private plan. I’d just as soon not have the government telling me what kind of health care I get. I’d rather be able to have an insurance company. If I don’t like them, I can get rid of them and find a different insurance company. But people make their own choice.

This is clearly coming from someone who has never tried to buy health insurance.

I have tried, and let me tell you, all the companies are pretty much the same. They’re expensive. The plans that aren’t that expensive don’t really cover much. And if, god forbid, I am diagnosed with breast cancer or multiple sclerosis or a brain tumor, I really don’t care who the fuck is paying, as long as I’m covered.

And then Mittens made a series of confusing statements. Here’s a sample:

Small businesses […] are saying they’re dropping insurance because they can’t afford it, the cost of health care is just prohibitive. We’ve got to deal with cost.

How about we pass something called the Affordable Care Act?

When you look at Obamacare, the Congressional Budget Office has said it will cost $2,500 a year more than traditional insurance. So it’s adding to cost. And as a matter of fact, when the president ran for office, he said that, by this year, he would have brought down the cost of insurance for each family by $2,500 a family. Instead, it’s gone up by that amount. So it’s expensive. Expensive things hurt families. So that’s one reason I don’t want it.

Because expensive things hurt families?  Like having to pay massive medical bills because you don’t have insurance? I have a great idea. How about single-payer healthcare?

[Obamacare] cuts $716 billion from Medicare to pay for it. I want to put that money back in Medicare for our seniors.

But don’t you want to cut Medicare? I’m confused.

[Obamacare] puts in place an unelected board that’s going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have. I don’t like that idea.

But it’s okay for corporate executives at Aetna or Blue Cross and Blue shield to tell you what kind treatments you can have, right? Because they probably do have your best interests at heart. Really. They do. Pinky swear.

There was a survey done of small businesses across the country, that asked what’s been the effect of Obamacare on your hiring plans? And three-quarters of them said it makes us less likely to hire people.

Really? Oh, okay. I bet they said the same damn thing about affirmative action.  Wait a minute, we got rid of affirmative action, right? That really helped close the wage gap.

I’ll end this rant analysis with a choice gem from President Obama:

Private insurers have to make a profit. Nothing wrong with that. That’s what they do.

Am I going crazy? Somebody help me! Can we please please please  just agree that actually there is something fundamentally wrong with that? Healthcare should be a right not a privilege. Anyone? Anyone?


Full disclosure: I’m Canadian, I believe in single-payer healthcare, I don’t have any insurance at the moment. And yes, I’m voting for Obama.


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