The Common Good

Entitlement Hypocrisy

You might think that those who spent their campaigns telling their constituents that they would work to appeal "Obamacare" -- just another government entitlement -- would either think that health care isn't important, or that it's okay for people to be uninsured, or that they clearly would not accept government subsidized health care for themselves or their families.

Well, that apparently that is not the case for Dr. Andy Harris, a newly elected Congressman from Maryland's Eastern Shore. According to Politico, Dr. Harris, "an anesthesiologist, reacted incredulously when he was informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb 1 -- 28 days after his January 3 swearing in."

Okay, so I don't know about you, but I think I'm pretty sure that I am like most Americans who have had to go without health insurance at one time or another. Most folks like me who have been without insurance, did so because there was a waiting period between their hire date and when insurance kicks in. (While I was permitted to purchase insurance from my previous employer through COBRA -- I couldn't afford it.)

Apparently, though, Dr. Harris has never needed to purchase insurance, at least until now. He wasn't aware that COBRA allows him to purchase insurance for himself and his family so that they won't be without insurance until the new policy kicks in. Because of that, he apparently went ballistic when he found out that his new government subsidized health insurance would not kick in until February 1st. He, like all of us, does not want his family to go without health care insurance coverage. I'm guessing he is intimately aware of what surgery and anesthesiology services cost to people who don't have insurance -- or how difficult it is for people without insurance to get care if they have an accident, injury, or illness while they are uninsured.

Well, lucky for you, Dr. Harris -- if you or a member of your family has an illness or injury while you are uninsured (which fortunately for you, your family won't need to be) or insured by a different health insurance provider, you will still be able to get coverage because "Obamacare" prevents health care providers from denying you coverage because of a "pre-existing condition."

Know what else Dr. Harris? "Obamacare" ensures that all health care insurance cannot be canceled or terminated because you or your wife or your children get seriously ill and the cost of care exceeds what the health insurance provider is willing to cover. Did you know, Dr. Harris, that many people prior to this have had their insurance canceled simply because they got seriously ill?

So which part of government-subsidized health care don't you like? You seem to like it so much that you don't think you should have to do what every other federal employee who receives federal health care has to do -- wait for your health care to kick in until the first day of the first full month of your employment. You know, we could probably convince the health insurance companies to insure all federal workers the day their employment commences, but at what cost to American taxpayers?

So I'm not sure which part of "Obamacare" you don't like. If you are like most in your party, you probably don't think that employers should have to cover their employees or pay a tax to cover the cost of their health care that is passed on to the U.S. taxpayers. And another argument is that the government should not tell health care insurance providers what they must or must not do. But apparently, you want the government to require health insurance providers to cover you and your family immediately.

Call me clairvoyant, but I'm also guessing that you'll be voting to cut Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare in order to address the federal deficit, but voting to extend tax cuts to people (like you) who are in the top 2 percent of wage earners in this country. (No conflict of interest there.) You'll be interested in making sure that widows living on $25,000 per year are not taking advantage of entitlements. Because you know, we need to cut "entitlement" spending. But I'm guessing that you would not want us to cut the health care insurance coverage to which you are entitled as a member of Congress.

portrait-jennifer-kottlerRev. Jennifer Kottler is the Director of Policy and Advocacy at Sojourners. A long-time advocate for justice, Jennifer has served in advocacy ministry for more than eight years through her work at Protestants for the Common Good (Chicago, IL), the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, and the Chicago Jobs Council.

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