“Posted at 8:16 AM ET, 01/ 5/2011
Mindless opposition to Obamacare
By Matt Miller
“How mindless does it get? Republican Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee takes the new year's first prize. On MSNBC's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell Monday night, Roe griped that Obamacare was fatally flawed, and he boasted that he wasn't going to avail himself of the congressional health-care plan, whose choice among private insurance options resembles the structure of Obama's reform. When O'Donnell pointed out that this was hardly a sacrifice, because Roe is 65 and thus covered by Medicare -- a single-payer scheme more socialistic than the Obama-like plan that the congressmen had snubbed -- Roe was nonplussed. The problem with Medicare, Roe explained, is that there are no private-insurance alternatives to the government-run program for seniors from which he can choose.
Earth to Congressman Roe: Medicare was created in 1965 precisely because there ARE NO viable private insurance alternatives for people over 65. Older Americans are uninsurable in the private market! That's because they tend to get expensively sick, a lot. That GOP officials can make this mindless "anti-government" critique -- and doubtless find plenty of dittoheads out there nodding in agreement -- leaves one breathless. And maybe hopeless.”
I’m thrilled to see this column. Mr. Miller gets lots of points for his thoughts and efforts. Roe’s words demonstrate how deeply in thrall to the teavangelists has become.
In all of his campaign speeches, in every “newsletter” telling the citizens of TN why he voted in the interest of some commercial sponsor rather than for the citizen’s interests, Roe manages to insert his former OB/Gyn practice. Since Medicare was already in effect when he became a physician, he most likely saw some senior women who had Medicare coverage. I doubt he refused reimbursement by Medicare for his services to older TN women. To complain that there is no commercial alternative for seniors should make him happy for his former patients. Obviously, he is a subscriber to the “Don’t get sick or die quickly” GOP health care plan.
I’m not impressed by his renunciation of the Congressional health plan. I’d be far more impressed if he also renounced his Medicare benefits and his right to treatment in the Veterans Affairs system. Even then, such claims are simply smoke, mirrors, and posturing on his part. As a physician, he is fully aware that most other physicians will extend him professional courtesy.
It will be interesting to see if there is actually any follow-up to this. Mr. Roe may wish to reconsider. My contacts in the VA system tell me he is not well liked by the staff at our local VA hospital. That might be because Roe and his teavangelist buddies want to do away with the VA system at the same time as they try to do away with Medicare and Social Security. The staff at VA are nice folks; they seem to really be concerned about taking care of the nation’s veterans. But they aren’t working because they have nothing better to do. The VA system feeds a lot of families in North East Tennessee. It keeps a lot more of us as healthy as we can be. This corner of Tennessee sends a lot of people into the military who expect the government to honor its obligations to them when they leave the military. Many more people here depend heavily on Social Security and Medicare for living expenses and health care. Remove those three government programs, as the teavangelists want to do, and the major industry remaining here will be funerial.
I’ve heard Roe speak, trying his best to make people dependent upon Medicare believe that the Democrats will eliminate their particular needs. I sat in on a telephone “town meeting” his office put together and listened to him deliberately convince an older women that she would have to appear before a “selection panel.” He’s well versed in the GOPer\teavangelist propaganda methods. The worst part of all of this is that he actually believes the bullshit he’s putting out. He’ll tell you how much he honors veterans while agreeing with the GOP plan to scrap the VA.
When someone hands him a question that makes him uncomfortable or that he can’t twist into teavangelism, he immediately pulls out his OB\Gyn history. In this area that serves as a form of shield. But for me, it reinforces my dislike of him. I spent some time working as a scrub tech in OR while in university. I was called out for far too many C-Sections at about 0600. I finally asked a retiring OB\Gyn about that particular time. He told me that a lot of his colleagues would declare the need for a “Section” thus calling in an OR crew even though the patient’s labor was progressing normally if they thought letting her deliver normally, would make them late for morning office hours. They would also use the 0600 time slot as a means of rearranging the OR schedule in their favor, Despite the inconvenience to other patients and staff. I’ve never scrubbed with Roe or with anyone who knows him. I doubt I would have found the experience rewarding.