(Editor's note: Art Buchwald once wrote, "You can't make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you're doing is recording it."
I had no idea my disgruntled missive lamenting our limited voting options would be met with so much tar, so many feathers and with such colorful language. While my endorsement of Ron Paul was more bitter satire than actual ballot, I think my larger point might have been missed: The GOP had a golden opportunity to unseat a vulnerable, incumbent president whose policies threaten my livelihood as much as yours. I think they blew it. And it pisses me off.
And for those of you who think politics are irrelevant to what you do, you haven't been paying attention. And you deserve to lose your job anyway. Believe me, if I could unsubscribe right back at all of you who are political ostriches burying your heads in your next enrollment, I would. No wonder the higher ups at NAHU get so frustrated with the lack of broker involvement at both the local and national levels. Complaining is easy—especially at the messenger. Doing something is hard.)
Now that I've got that out of my system, we did get a glimmer of hope from the House last week with committee approval of a medical loss ratio bill that's long overdue and just might keep us all around a lit longer. It seeks to exempt broker commissions from the MLR equation spelled out in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, maybe one of the worst oversights from a law peppered with them. We'll see.
But I wanted to tackle a more fundamental question this week. Lost in the smoke and rhetoric of Romney's candid camera appearance was his reference to health care.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what," Romney explained to a roomful of fundraisers—and one anonymous Michael Moore wannabe.
But this begs the question: Are we entitled to health care? Is health care—or more specifically, free health care—a basic human right? Years ago, as an overly idealistic college student, it seemed like a reasonable premise. But I'm not so sure anymore. It's a nice, if hopelessly naive, concept that doesn't survive its headlong collision with reality.
For starters, if we want to go back to the original text, as citizens of this country, all we're really "entitled" to is "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." While I guess it could be argued being healthy is a prerequisite for any worthwhile pursuit of anything, I think the only promise any of us have is access to health care, not a blank check to live how we want and have your neighbor, co-worker or elected public official pick up the tab.
And that's exactly what we do when we binge on soft drinks, greasy fries and pork rinds, then rush to the emergency room when our chest feels like it's going to explode.
Personal responsibility is more than a political platform or idea, it's the reality of a drunk driver surfing a curb, taking out a few pedestrians and spending a decade in a dirty jail cell. It's the nonpartisan concept of cause and effect. If my son can't pass the seventh grade, he has to try again. If you eat, drink and waste away on your moldy couch cushions like a Midwestern paperweight, you have to pay your own hospital bill. That's your right. And your responsibility. Just like it's my right not to get sucked into your vortex of empty carbs and cardiac infarctions.
And I don't wanna close without touching on the obvious: Nothing is free. Just look at Massachusetts. They have virtually universal coverage—which is all well and good. But it's expensive. Costs are climbing so high there, the governor's looking at caps.
And the flip side? Rationing. Demand is exceeding supply. These are simple free market concepts that should surprise no one. It also reinforces my earlier point about cause and effect. Everyone can get coverage, but it will cost more and you might have to wait in line. Pick your poison.
Which also gets us back to our choices in November...