The first thing newly elected Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD) did when he got to Washington last week was complain about the Cadillac health care provided to government employees. Apparently he has to wait 30 days after he starts walking the streets before it kicks in. I'm sure we all feel Andy's pain.
As a new kid on the Congressional block with 0 days of experience, Andy will be paid $174,000 a year in base salary, plus the usual benefits available to federal employees. Since the per capita income in the little town where I live in the Ozarks is $12,873 a year, I think Andy will figure it out. But wow, 30 days without coverage. That's scary. Let's keep Andy and his family in our prayers, okay?
One of the ironies of Andy's situation though, is that he won election as a strong opponent of the newly passed Health Care Reform legislation. He was particularly critical of the requirement mandating that individuals purchase health insurance -- sort of like the mandate that all drivers have liability insurance before they can legally take a car out onto the streets.
The main argument in favor of mandated health insurance is that the cost of treating the uninsured drives ups the cost for people who buy insurance. I can believe it since, as a self employed person, my annual health insurance cost is a little bit more than the per capita income of people in my town. Yup, almost $13,000 a year.
Andy argued that mandating the purchase of an insurance product is unconstitutional and consequently illegal. That doesn't explain why auto liability insurance or social security taxes for retirement can be mandated, but I'm sure a lawyer can explain it for us. Either way, I think I'm on the hook. While Andy and the lawyers argue the point, I'll pay for the uninsured through higher taxes, or by paying increasing insurance premiums.
Yes indeed, one way or another, the middle class is on the hook and since, at least in economic terms, I'm a middle class that means me. So, Andy, how does your constitutional point help me, one way or the other?
A Facebook friend told me that we shouldn't be forced to buy health insurance or care for the uninsured. I think he means that we should just leave the uninsured on the street if they don't have coverage.
"Dude, you've crashed your Harley and you're bleeding! Are you covered?"
"Oh, sorry man. Good luck."
Unless I fall for the old Good Samaritan routine, I'm afraid the Harley rider will have to bleed to death, at least under my friend's scenario. Gosh, I wonder what will happen to babies born with cleft palates or, for that matter, to babies generally. Are there enough mangers to go around?
Like Andy, I'm foursquare behind Rugged Individualism, but I am doubtful about the whole Good Samaritan approach to healthcare. For one thing, mainline churches have been silent on the matter of health care reform -- and lately, on all other Social Justice issues, to tell you the truth -- while the Pre-Millennial and Prosperity Gospel groups are into Rapture or Money and can't be bothered with the more mundane aspects of the Gospels.
No, I think we're on our own on this one. I sure hope nothing happens to Andy in the next 30 days. Let's pray for him, okay?