Debating Obama's Health Care Clichés

When I was a little girl, we would often purchase Bazooka® bubblegum. The gum wrapper consisted of a small comic strip (featuring a character called Bazooka Joe) and a fortune. The fortune was usually along the lines of "a great adventure awaits you." Occasionally the fortune was a cliché, such as "haste makes waste."

As I listened to the congressional Democrats recite their arguments for the Pelosi health care bill, I was reminded of those Bazooka gum wrappers. Their speeches consisted of trite phrases devoid of any depth or intelligence, the words selected only for their emotional impact. These arguments sound so compelling -- as long as no measurable time is spent thinking about them. Here follows three gum-wrapper arguments for health care reform made by the Democrats. There are many, many more.

1. Health care is a right.

Barack Obama, in an
interview in 2001, lamented:
... generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can't do to you. Says what the Federal government can't do to you, but doesn't say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf.
If Barack Obama were writing the Constitution, it would enumerate "positive liberties," things the "federal government must do on your behalf." Foremost among these liberties would be the right to health care. Merriam-Webster defines a right as something to which one has a just claim: the power or privilege to which one is justly entitled. For example, the Declaration of Independence tells us we are "justly entitled" to life. But how can health care be a right?  Health care is something that must be provided to you by someone else. A miracle drug does you no good unless a company develops and makes it, a doctor prescribes it, a pharmacist dispenses it, and a nurse administers it. 

A couple of years ago, a neighbor of mine had a hip replacement. When she returned home, she asked me to come by and change her dressing, check her incision -- general nursing assistance, which I was happy to provide. Now if health care were a right, my neighbor would be "justly entitled" to my nursing. There would be no need for her to ask me to help, with the possibility that I might refuse. A government bureaucrat could have pulled up his roster of health care workers in the neighborhood and, seeing RN after my name, ordered me to my neighbor's house. After all, she has a right to health care. It's much more cost-effective to send my neighbor home and assign me to care for her. (Could the government expect me to work for free? Anyone who has glanced at the Medicare reimbursement rates lately knows that "free" isn't too far off.) 

If Democrats thought any deeper than gum-wrapper platitudes, they would grasp that if health care is a "right," then health care workers can be compelled to provide that right. As Mark Levin
explained on his radio show, if health care is a right, then doctors, nurses, and all health care workers have to be enslaved to make sure we produce. 

2. No one should ever go bankrupt because of medical bills.

Here's another gum-wrapper argument guaranteed to get American heads nodding in agreement, especially when garnished with a heartbreaking tale. When he unveiled his health care reform bill in September, Senator Max Baucus
Every year, about one and a half million families lose their homes to foreclosure because of unaffordable medical costs. No one should go bankrupt because they get sick. This bill would fix that.
So, Senator, just when is it acceptable to go bankrupt? Overspending on credit cards? Buying three times the house you could reasonably afford? Or maybe opening a small business for which there was no demand? If a gum-wrapper philosopher were actually forced to defend his position, he might counter that medical bankruptcy is unfair, because no one chooses to get sick. But isn't that precisely why we have bankruptcy laws in the first place? 

Several years ago, my daughter required surgery while at college. Since she was "out of network" per our health insurance, our co-pay was thousands more than if she'd been treated at home. Because I had actually read our policy, I knew the bills weren't unfair. My daughter had received services from a surgeon and a hospital. Simply because the services were medical in nature does not make the payment due unfair. And it certainly doesn't make it the responsibility of my friends and neighbors. Max Baucus believes that no one should go bankrupt because of medical costs. So he wrote a bill where America will go bankrupt.

3. No one should be denied health insurance because of a preexisting condition.

This truism requires a bit more effort to debate because the average gum-wrapper believer most likely does not understand why insurance companies don't cover "preexisting conditions." This platitude, however, can be debunked by a simple comparison with auto and homeowner's insurance. If I hit a deer and total my car (a preexisting condition), no one believes that I should be able to call Geico® and sign up for collision insurance from the accident site. If I don't bother to sign up for homeowner's insurance, I can't expect to purchase a policy while my house is on fire.

Believe it or not, the health insurance industry already takes on plenty of high-risk clients. When I took a job with family insurance benefits, the policy covered my husband and children, including any medical problems they may have had at the time. When an employee marries, his insurance usually covers his wife immediately, no matter what her health is. 

It is heartbreaking when someone has no insurance and becomes sick. At that point, however, "insurance" isn't what the patient requires. He needs medical care, and he'd like it to be paid for. The Democrats' solution is to have every insured American pony up extra money to pay his bills. So why bother to pay for insurance if you're healthy? If Congress passes a "feel-good" law stating that no insurance company can ever consider a customer's preexisting condition, all we'll do is guarantee that a lot more people will choose to go uninsured until they get sick.

It's much easier to spout gum-wrapper truisms than to debunk them. I'm well aware that the majority of America, including the mainstream media, lacks the knowledge to counter gum-wrapper philosophy. But there is a way to fight back.

The only weapon that works against a gum-wrapper platitude is truth, stated with gum-wrapper simplicity. Nobody has a right to the labor of others.

Carol Peracchio is a registered nurse.