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Erica Jong Headshot

Don't Let The Crazy People Win This One

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The crazy person always makes the decision, says my husband the divorce lawyer. "If you have two partners--and one is sane and the other crazy--guess who always wins?"

"The one who screams the loudest?" I ask, knowing this because I come from a family of crazy people.

"You betcha."

There are things sane people don't do--like lie, like drag the children into the dispute, like leave for New Zealand with the kids, like rob the joint bank accounts. But the crazy person will do it--and the sane partner is usually left holding the bag. Oh you can sue and sue and sue--but in the end, the kids are wetting their beds, the bank account is gone and the sane partner is on welfare.

That's what I think about the health care ruckus. The Republicans will say just about anything to derail progress. The Democrats are too reticent. Not that they don't have corrupt Blue Dogs with their hands in the pockets of the health care profiteers. They do. But all their talk--and the president's--of compromise is like arguing with a crazy person who will say anything. Forget reasoning. Just push the damn thing through.

OK, I'm not a diplomat or a politician. I haven't got the patience. But it's clear to me that our country's lack of a public option is bankrupting businesses and families. Not only does our tiny one-writer, one-lawyer business pay fortunes for health care for our assistants, housekeeper and ourselves, but any time the health care company makes a mistake, we pay anyway for fear of being cancelled.

Just pay, our broker says--if you hold back your check, they'll cancel you. So for six months last year, I paid full coverage for a fired assistant--though the broker gave me erroneous information.

Companies with 25 employees, not one, are responsible for paying health insurance for a worker who's been fired after six months. The broker was wrong. Blue Cross or Aetna or Oxford--I forget which--held our money for six months and then refused to refund the correct amount. I'm still asking for it. This is what monopolies do.

I'm a lucky cuss--good earning power and a spouse with good earning power--but the health care giants answer to no one. Why should they? They have cornered the market. Unless there is a competing option, they will continue to act like the eight hundred pound gorilla who sits wherever he wants.

This is common sense, not rocket science. If there were no competition in the clothing business, we'd all have to pay $300 for jeans--not just fashionistas. Competition is vital. Especially when life and death are at stake.

So come on Dems, get with the program. We need a public option--or we're gonna have to start a new political party with guts. We could call it the Healthy Party. Or we could move to Canada--or Ireland or Italy or France. We could move almost anywhere and get health care without breaking the bank. What's wrong with the US? The crazy people make the decisions--on health, on guns, on wildlife, on the environment. What stupidity. There's a helluva good universe next door--let's go. (With apologies to ee cummings, who knew insanity when he saw it).