Health Care Act Bans Happy Holiday News Stories
- SATIRE -Recent feature stories about your town's Labor Day block party may be the last of their kind. That goes for articles about Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas parties, Easter sunrise services, and family vacations as well. Tucked into Section 8, Paragraph 6978.3A of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a provision banning favorable media coverage of activities enjoyed by groups of people, such as holidays emphasizing family and friendship. The provision was included to safeguard the mental health of single people, who often suffer feelings of loneliness on holidays.
- SATIRE -
Recent feature stories about your town's Labor Day block party may be the last of their kind. That goes for articles about Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas parties, Easter sunrise services, and family vacations as well.
Tucked into Section 8, Paragraph 6978.3A of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a provision banning favorable media coverage of activities enjoyed by groups of people, such as holidays emphasizing family and friendship. The provision was included to safeguard the mental health of single people, who often suffer feelings of loneliness on holidays.
"This group already feels abandoned and neglected," explained Congressman Nathan Nani, a Democrat whose district includes Brooklyn's trendy Park Slope neighborhood. "We couldn't let them think Congress had forgotten them, too. While treatment for holiday-related depression represents only 0.0256739% of all health care spending, our mandate was to keep costs down using every means at our disposal."
The provision was incorporated into the PPACA following congressional testimony by Erika Einsam, president of the Upper West Side Chapter of American Solitaires.
"For once the government got it right," said Ms. Einsam. "There comes a point where you just can't stand it anymore. People think it's OK to flaunt their plans in front of other people. When I was working I often went home depressed because people just couldn't seem to shut up about their great weekends."
Indeed, Ms. Einsam became so depressed that she had to be institutionalized. After three years in Sweet Dreams Refuge for the Emotionally Frangible, Ms. Einsam came to the realization that she could no longer afford her job. "I'd used up my mental health benefit, and I knew that if I went back to work, it wouldn't be long before I'd have to return to Sweet Dreams. And who was going to pay for that?"
It wasn't just the job, either. It was the way the whole world was ordered. "I couldn't get away from it," Ms. Einsam said. "When people weren't gabbing about their plans, they were sitting across from me on the subway holding up newspapers with big fat headlines about Thanksgiving turkeys being pardoned, or Christmas presents for orphans, or people falling off a deck at someone's house where there was a holiday party. You have no idea how obnoxious these stories are, about people enjoying themselves at the beach or at their barbeques. Don't they realize that not everyone goes to a barbeque on Labor Day? The lack of sensitivity is frankly stunning. Of all people, journalists should know better."
Ms. Einsam reserves special scorn for those who tell her that all she has to do is not watch the offending reports. "That is so typical! Blame the victim! Why should I bear the burden of not watching what I don't want to see?"
Section 8 also regulates workplace conversation. Beginning in June of 2014, it will be a federal felony to discuss outside activities within sixty yards of any workplace. "We considered making it a hate crime," said Congressman Nani, "but I think once people realize that Congress ranks this sort of insensitivity with bank robbery and extortion, they'll have enough common sense to obey the law. If it turns out we were wrong, we can always change it."
Ms. Einsam is definitely not alone when it comes to feelings of alienation.
"Every holiday sees the emergency room filling up as the day progresses," explained Dr. Dom Duenna, chief of emergency medicine at Heaven Help Us Regional Hospital. "We used to ascribe the spike in heart attacks and indigestion to festive overindulgence, but it actually represents a desire for the holiday to be over. Apparently people think if they can just eat or drink enough, they'll achieve oblivion and wake up the next day with no memory of the holiday." He shrugged. "People seek different ways to numb their pain."
Pointing to a heavily redacted register of last July Fourth's emergency room admissions, he said, "These are all fireworks injuries. You may wonder what this has to do with depression, but depressives become careless in their handling of fireworks. We've learned that from our follow-up psychological studies."
Section 8 should also reduce hostility among inner-city youths, who may have no experience with suburban holiday traditions. "We all know it's rude to speak in front of someone in a foreign language," explained Al Dulton, chairman of the Coalition for Equality in Education. "Is it so hard to understand that when you talk about barbeques in front of people who've never been to a barbeque, you may as well be speaking Greek? It's racist to allow newscasts to be full of things that not everyone has experienced."
Dulton's organization recently made news when it persuaded the Board of Regents to change a question on an exam. "Since not everyone knows what a kiwi is, it's ridiculous to expect children to be able to add and subtract kiwis."
Congressman Nani is quick to agree. "The connection may not be obvious to someone without a degree in public health. But anything that reduces the stress of living in the inner city lowers health care costs. Stress causes high blood pressure, heart attacks, rashes, and digestive disorders, not to mention the psychological problems associated with frustration. And frustration elevates the temperature, contributing to global warming."
Section 8's ban on publicizing holidays does allow one exception. "The month of Ramadan sets a good example," explained Dr. Duenna. "Fasting is healthful. If our studies show what I think they will, we may recommend that it be required of everyone."