A Few Thoughts on the Health Care Reform Mania

When I arrived home from teaching a class today I remembered my cell phone was off, and when I turned it back on the voicemail alert sounded. I listened for a few seconds to a Republican member of Congress, and when she arrived at the phrase "Democratic plan to take over the American health care system," I shut it off and deleted the message, which actually originated from a Repulican National Committee phone system in Washington, DC.

Yes, friends, it is official: I no longer care about the debate.

The unabashedly partisan rhetoric from both sides has worn down my desire to pay attention to this issue. By my halfhearted count I have received four robo-calls, deleted eight spam emails, and viewed dozens of television ads in the past week on this topic. I am simply tired of listening to and reading the endless barrage of blatantly misleading nonsense related to the health care reform legislation.

If people question portions of the package, they are heartless thugs who want to see babies die from a lack of medical care, and of course anyone who supports this health care reform package is either a dirty Red or a willing dupe.

You know the political drill.

Left: salacious headline from the Drudge Report (click for larger image)

One of the funnier attempts to spread disinformation about the health care reform package popped up on the Drudge Report yesterday. Matt Drudge linked to a story about how Walgreens stores in the state of Washington will no longer accept new state Medicaid patients on April 1, and the fear-laden hyperlinked title tried to imply that this is the first falling domino in what will be the collapse of the entire U.S. health care system:

"IT'S STARTING: REGIONAL WALGREEN"S SAYS 'NO NEW MEDICAID'"

Uh, Matt Drudge? The Walgreens Corporation is no stranger to the game of redlining pharmacy customers, and their refusal to honor insurance coverage extends into the private sector. The company refused to accept two private insurance plans I have used in the past few years, both of which were prominent insurance companies. My son's medicine would have cost $350 a month at Walgreens, which would not accept my insurance, or $51 a month at Rite Aid, which gladly accepted my insurance.

The Walgreens corporate strategy has nothing to do with the current health care reform debate, and I might argue that it is reflective of the type of problems President Obama and the Democrats claim they will fix.

That is, if I actually cared any more about this debate.

And really: I have listened to hundreds and perhaps thousands of politicians predict the worst sorts of doomsday scenarios in my lifetime, none of which ever materialized. Democratic politicians and union leaders predicted planes would crash en masse after Reagan fired the PATCO air traffic controllers in 1981, and they claimed that children and the elderly would starve to death when he cut social spending.

And don't even get me started about the insane predictions by the far right of the endless waves of bloodthirsty Islamic jihadists who were supposed to attack America and force our women to wear burqas if Barack Obama became president. So far we have seen an underwear bomber with a bad case of adult acne plus a few lone domestic lunatics carrying out bloody attacks, but still no sign of the Islamist apocalypse that the fringe right promised.

If the Democratic reform plan turns out to be a legislative dud, it will be jettisoned faster than a pack of rabid dogs on a blind cat with three legs. The country will not sink into a socialist dictatorship, nor will thousands of employers close their doors and ship 10 million jobs overseas (not that this has not already happened, by the way, but work with me). If the Democrats indeed screw up the American health care system worse than it already is, the voters are smart enough to send their asses packing.

And if the Dems happen to get something right? Hallelujah. Meanwhile, I am going for a nice healthy walk to take some pictures of the spring plants poking through the soil, and I will probably dust off the hammock to soak up some late afternoon sunshine.

If anything happens that is not drenched with partisan bullshit, email me: I turned my phone off.

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