The Coburn Health Care Plan

Ken AshfordHealth CareLeave a Comment

CNN’s Rick Sanchez aired a segment from a health care town hall where a weeping constituent explained to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) her prblems. The woman in the clip struggles to even speak through her tears, but she explains to her right-wing senator that her husband has traumatic brain injuries. Their family's private insurer, she said, won't cover some of his treatments. "We left the nursing home," she said, "and they told us we are on our own." She breaks down, pleading for help.

Coburn's response is fascinating and illuminating.  First, Coburn told her that his office would try to assist her individually.  Then he added:

"But the other thing that's missing in this debate is us as neighbors helping people that need our help…The idea that the government is the solution to our problems is an inaccurate, a very inaccurate statement."

Here's the video:

First of all, Coburn runs over his own argument.  If Coburn's office is going to help this woman, then the government is acting as a solution, at least in her case.  Why, then, should people like Coburn seek to prevent government from helping in every case?  If not the government, then who?

Coburn would say, "Well, the neighbors".  That's a sweet sentiment, and naturally, I don't disagree.  It would be nice if we as a society would help out each other, and take care of the least fortunate of us.  But sometimes that is hard to do, especially when virtually everybody needs help.

This is where government comes in.  In fact, this is what government is.  Government, at all levels — federal, state, local — is how we help our neighbors.  We are the government.  Government is the place where we come together as a people and actually fix these problems en masse.  Because relying solely on charity or the good graces of others only goes so far, and obviously, that alone hasn't worked when it comes to health care.  The woman is a testament to that.

Coburn's position, ehld by an alarming number of conservative Americans, makes no sense.  As Digby writes:

Americans refuse to pay an extra penny in taxes to make sure that they and their neighbors don't go broke and wind up without any support if they get sick. But we are supposed to rely on our neighbors to come in and change our bedpans for us?