THE BLOG
02/20/2013 12:26 pm ET Updated Apr 22, 2013

To Your Good Health -- or What There Is Left of It

So, it seems that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has a way out of our budget problems with the sequester: cut Affordable Health Care. Apparently, that's the way to deal with a $1.2 trillion deficit. Get rid of health care. Raising taxes that had been cut, that doesn't occur to him. If you want to look at ways to find $1.2 trillion in savings over the next decade," he told Fox News, "let's look at Obamacare. Let's don't destroy the military and just cut blindly across the board."

This has nothing to do with the sequester, of course. The Senate passed "cutting blindly across the board" by a huge margin with bipartisan support, 74-26. The Republican-controlled House passed it 269-161. As much as the mature, adult Sen. Graham wants to whine that it was the president "who came up with the idea" (which is the ol' "The president made me do it" defense), adding like a six-year-old, "The president promised this wouldn't happen," the House and Senate not only voted for it, but Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) said, "I got 98 percent of what I wanted" in the deal.

No, this is solely about the Affordable Health Care Act, which Lindsey Graham doesn't like. That so many Republicans don't think you should have. Don't think you need it. Because... well, health care in America is just swell.

In an interview with Kaiser Health News, Governor Phil Bryant of Mississippi said, "There is no one who doesn't have health care in America. No one. Now, they may end up going to the emergency room. There are better ways to deal with people that need health care than this massive new program."

Well, yes, there are better ways than "this" program. Single payer would be better. But I suspect that's not what he meant. Then again, I'm not sure what he meant. I'm not sure if he knows what he meant.

To say that there is "no one" who doesn't have health care in America -- since they can always "end up" in the emergency room is like saying there is no one living in hunger because they can always get an intravenous drip and a cookie if they collapse. Or that no one is living in poverty since the best things in life are free.

Being able to go to the emergency room doesn't mean you have "health care," it means you have emergency care. If you have the symptoms of heart disease but are unable to pay for treatment and finally, when you are about to die, get rushed to the emergency room to keep you resuscitated, that's not health care. That's last rites.

Further, pretty much all medical experts (and financial experts) I've read say that using the emergency room is the absolute worst form of "health care." First, as noted, it's usually a last resort long after any serious, beneficial treatment should have been administered. But also, it's far-and-away the most wildly expensive type of medical care. And that wildly expensive bill has to be paid -- by people who were so poor they were unable to get medical insurance in the first place. (Which is the whole point of medical insurance.) And then, when those bills get defaulted on, they have to get paid somehow, and these unpaid, defaulted bills either crush hospitals or get passed along to the public (this translates to "you") in a massive way.

Contrary to what Gov. Bryant (R-MI) tries to suggest, there were actually 48 millionuninsured Americans before the Affordable Health Care Act was passed. Meaning that effectively they had no health care. And there are $41 billion of unpaid medical bills. In an amusing side note, though, in Mr. Bryant's very own state of Mississippi, a remarkable 19% of residents there have no health insurance, which is the fifth highest percentage in the nation.

I believe the shorter translation of the Gov. Bryant's galling statement is, "If the people have no bread to eat, let them eat cake."

Or as Ebeneezer Scrooge said, "If there are people who would rather die, they should do so and decrease the surplus population."

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To read more from Robert J. Elisberg about other matters from politics, entertainment, technology, humor, sports, and a few things in between, visit Elisberg Industries.

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