20 January 2010

Good news

I'm happy and relieved that Scott Brown won in Massachusetts last night. No one, but no one could have predicted this a month ago.

In the news, all the pundits and analysts are saying that it's a referendum on Barack Obama, and his administration, or a referendum on health care. I'm not so sure.

In my humble opinion, I don't think it's so much about President Obama (although I'm sure there's a segment of the voters who would disagree and say that it was very much about him) but overall, I think people are sick and tired of the president telling them how it's going to be, and not letting them express their opinions. People were sick of George Bush shoving his foreign policy down our throats whether we liked it or not, and now people are tired of Barack Obama doing that very same thing. He has said over and over, in many different ways, that come hell or high water, there WILL be a health care bill passed. Nancy Pelosi has said the same thing. Weren't they listening last summer, when all the representatives and senators came home and held all those town hall meetings? People don't want reform like this.

And before anyone gets their dander up and assumes that I am some heartless, soulless pig of a Republican who wants to see people die for lack of health care, let me disabuse you of that notion. It's not that I object to health care. I object to the way they're going about it. First of all, health care in and of itself IS NOT A RIGHT. Let me be clear.


It is a commodity, which you can choose to purchase, or not. Now, I will agree that ACCESS to that commodity should be equal. I can get onboard with that. Everyone ought to be able to buy good, reasonably priced health care insurance for themselves and their families. Beyond that, get the government the hell out of my health care decision. Don't force me to buy it, or limit my options.

If politicians are serious about real health care reform, they need to have an open discussion about tort reform. Gajillion dollar settlements for hangnails are a huge part of how we got to this place, where premiums are astronomically high. Yes, I'm exaggerating to make a point. But hear me out. An honest mistake by your doctor should not entitle you to a million-dollar payout. When mistakes are made, and they will be, everyone runs straight to the lawyer. In some cases, I can see this...if the mistake that the doctor makes is serious enough to create more health problems that will cost more money, then absolutely, reparations have to be made. A patient can't be expected to suck up the costs incurred by a doctor's mistake.

HOWEVER, comma, not every mistake rises to that level. I read a story about a woman who won a multi million dollar payout from an insurance company, because her doctor misdiagnosed her with breast cancer. She chose to have both of her breasts removed as a preventive measure. Then they discovered that the doctor was wrong, so she sued him for millions, and won. Tell me how having $73 million dollars makes up for that mistake. Really? The doctor (or the insurance company) can pay for reconstructive surgery, sure. But what purpose does it serve to bankrupt him? And what about the fallout, that affects others? Like making premiums go sky high. Now everyone has to pay for that award. And it's like a ripple effect...a couple of crazy-high awards like that, and the company has to raise premiums to stay in business.

My OBGYN told me, when I was preparing to download my third, that he was considering quitting delivering babies, because he just couldn't afford malpractice insurance. His malpractice premiums went up 300% in one year. He also told me that an OBGYN can be sued anytime until the child is 18, and that OBGYNs can expect to be sued an average of three times during his/her career, whether the suit is warranted or not. Even if the suit is frivolous, it still costs money to settle it and make it go away. Where do you think the money comes from? Not to mention, if a doctor gets sued, it makes people leery of going to him....they think he's not a good doctor.

Another thing they'd bring up if they were serious about reform is allowing consumers to shop and buy insurance across state lines. Let the companies compete for business, and costs will go down. That's simple Econ 101.

Another thing I object to, is lifting the restrictions on using federal money to fund abortions for poor women. And if there were to be a public health care option that covered abortion, we'd all pay for them. I object to that with all of my being. Abortion is legal in this country. OK. But if that is your choice, YOU pay for it. I don't want any part of anyone's abortion, not paying for it, not supporting it, not encouraging or advocating it.

The health care debacle has enough problems to keep Congress busy for years. You're not going to please all of the people, all of the time. THAT, my friends, is what Scott Brown's victory last night is all about. A bunch of people who are NOT PLEASED. And when they decide to get together and do something about it, look out, Washington. Stop being so arrogant as to assume you know what's best. Listen to the people, your constituents...you know, the people you WORK FOR. The people who HIRED YOU to do a job. That old line made famous by moms everywhere...I brought you into this world, I can take you right back out, holds true here.

It will be very interesting indeed to see how things will play out in Washington now that the Democrats have lost their trump card, the filibuster-proof majority. Now you're going to have to play nice with the Republicans. You can't just ram legislation through, without consulting or considering the other half of the country.

ahem. I'll be putting my soapbox away now.

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