What Is Liberty? Access To Health Care Or Death?

Thank you, Michele Bachmann. I appreciate the opportunity to finally be able to express my thoughts on this week's Supreme Court arguments and the question of liberty. Rep. Bachmann thinks every uninsured person in this country simply


[h/t David at VideoCafe]

Thank you, Michele Bachmann. I appreciate the opportunity to finally be able to express my thoughts on this week's Supreme Court arguments and the question of liberty.

Rep. Bachmann thinks every uninsured person in this country simply gambled with their health. They "rolled the dice" and took their chances that they wouldn't get sick. Insurers had nothing to do with it, of course. They were never tossed off the rolls of a health insurer's plan, they were never denied care, they never reached their lifetime cap, and they never lost their job and their insurance right along with it.

These things never happened. No, instead what happened is that they simply shrugged and figured they could screw their kids and themselves out of access to a doctor, preventive care, and treatment for conditions they could live with, even when they were sure there might be something wrong.

Take for example, this story related by Dr. Jen Gunter:

The patient in the emergency department smelled of advanced cancer. It is the smell of rotting flesh, but even more pungent. You only ever have to smell it once.

She had been bleeding irregularly, but chalked it up to “the change.” Peri-menopausal hormonal mayhem is the most common cause of irregular vaginal bleeding, but unfortunately not the only cause.

She hadn’t gone to the doctor because she had no health insurance. The only kind of work she could get in a struggling rural community was without benefits. Her coat and shoes beside the gurney were worn and her purse from another decade. She could never afford to buy it on her own. She didn’t qualify for Medicaid, the local doctor only took insurance, and there was no Planned Parenthood or County Clinic nearby.

Go read the whole thing. Because this is what Bachmann is talking about. This woman had no money, no means and no access to health care. And when she finally did get herself to a university hospital via ambulance to the emergency room, the only life-saving treatment available was not available to her because she could not pay for it.

Yep, there's some liberty for you. Liberty to rot away until the last ambulance takes you to the last emergency room for that last emergency that finally kills you after the cancer has eaten away the living parts.

Liberty. This is Michele Bachmann's liberty. Right here. Letting a woman die of a disease that could be treated and cured, if only. If only it could be paid for. And that university hospital did not choose to offer such treatments, nor was it obligated to offer them to those who could not pay. The only treatment they had to give was a blood transfusion and one single dose of radiation to stop the bleeding for at least a few days.

Then they had to send her on her way. Liberty. Liberty to die alone, penniless, untreated, and in pain. Liberty, people! This is Michele Bachmann's liberty, the liberty to not choose.

Liberty, my butt. It's slavery, and that's the essence of what these arguments boil down to. Take three minutes and listen to Solicitor General Verrilli explain this to the court:

There is an important connection, a profound connection between that problem and liberty. And I do think it's important that we not lose sight of that. That in this population of Medicaid eligible people who will receive health care that they cannot now afford under this Medicaid expansion, there will be millions of people with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, and as a result of the health care that they will get, they will be unshackled from the disabilities that those diseases put on them and have the opportunity to enjoy the blessings of liberty.

And the same thing will be true for -- for a husband whose wife is diagnosed with breast cancer and who won't face the prospect of being forced into bankruptcy to try to get care for his wife and face the risk of having to raise his children alone and I can multiply example after example after example.

In a very fundamental way this Medicaid expansion, as well as the provisions we discussed yesterday, secure of the blessings of liberty.

Yes. Not only the Medicaid expansion, but all of it. It just happens that the Medicaid expansion was the topic of argument, but it isn't the only part that secures liberty. For each and every person out there who had hit the lifetime caps on what insurers would pay, for each and every person out there who had no hope of getting insurance (and through that, treatment) for their chronic disease because that disease was something insurers chose not to cover, for each and every person who had to make a decision between their health or their children's health and the house payment, for each and every person who has died because they could not afford the preventive care that might have caught the cancer or heart disease early, what the Affordable Care Act brings them is liberty.

I am done apologizing for the fact that Obamacare isn't single payer. It isn't, but I will tell you right now that single payer will not happen in this country without this step in the process. It may not ever happen. I don't know. But what I do know is that if this law is overturned, there will be more cancers at the doorsteps of hospitals that can't be treated, more heart attacks in the streets that could have been prevented, and more children dead because they have diabetes, or cancer, or other diseases that went untreated.

This argument isn't about "rolling the dice." It isn't about broccoli, or the tenth amendment or 2700 pages of legal arglebargle. It is about liberty. Liberty to live, create, and overcome.

If our country decides liberty is Michele Bachmann's liberty, I don't know it anymore, and her liberty isn't liberty I will stand to defend. It's a passionless, profit-driven kind of liberty.

It comes to this: Is it liberty for the oligarchs, or liberty for the people? Which meaning will the Supreme Court decide the framers of the Constitution intended?

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