Tuesday, June 30, 2009


There isn't even a health care bill yet in D.C., but legislators in Arizona are already jumping in to try to ban what they think is coming. It's easy to mock this as paranoia, but warning of doom can have the effect of suggesting to the public that doom is precisely what's coming:

Voters in Arizona will decide next year whether residents will be subject to mandates in the pending health care reform that President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are promoting.

... [The] initiative (HCR2014), ... if passed, would amend the state constitution to codify that no resident would be required to participate in any public health care option. Arizonans will vote on the initiative in November 2010.

"HCR2014 is proactive and will protect patients' fundamental rights," Arizona State Rep. Nancy Barto, a Republican, said in a statement. "We are a front-line battle state to stop the momentum of this powerful government takeover of your health care decisions. Health care by lobbyists thwarts your rights and can be stopped here." ...

Now, we all know there isn't going to be mandatory "socialized medicine," but the wingnuts, of course, think (or want the public to think) that merely having a public option will be an apocalyptic corporate plague that causes all private health insurers to go out of business -- and, of course, saying so loud enough and frequently enough makes at least some of the public believe that's true, and would be unspeakably awful. And note above that the dreaded "socialized medicine" is being criticized as "Health care by lobbyists." The evildoers are both commies and fat cats!

Actually, the law doesn't just seek to ban "socialized medicine" -- it also seeks to ban individual or corporate mandates:

[The] proposal ... would constitutionally override any law, rule or regulation that requires individuals or employers to participate in any particular health care system.

... the [Obama] plan, at least for the time being, is expected to include some sort of mandatory purchase. That could involve companies being forced to provide insurance for their workers as well as a requirement that every individual obtain coverage or face financial penalties.

But I think the key point here is OBAMA WANTS TO MAKE CAPITALISM ILLEGAL!!!!!1!1!!!!, and that problem is very directly addressed:

HCR2014 ... would prohibit any fine or penalty on anyone or any company for deciding to purchase health care directly.

... it would overrule anything that prohibits the sale of private health insurance in Arizona.

But this is just silly and quixotic, right? People want real health care reform, right? Well, in Arizona a similar proposal almost became law last year:

The measure is similar to an initiative pushed onto the ballot last year by Eric Novack, a Phoenix orthopedic surgeon....

But the initiative was narrowly defeated, at least in part amid concerns that the change would undermine the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state's Medicaid program.

Tenth Amendment fans are cheering this on as "nullification":

"The main point that nullification aims to address is that a government allowed to determine the scope of its own powers cannot remain limited for long. This is a lesson we should have learned by now. Moreover, since piecemeal solutions to reducing federal power have accomplished nothing, we can hardly afford to dismiss out of hand the idea of nullification, a remedy that is at once creative and intelligent, and recommended by some of the greatest political thinkers in American history."

As it has in the past, my mind goes back to a gruesome monologue in Apocalypse Now, in which Marlon Brando, as Colonel Kurtz, recalls helping to give some Vietnamese children polio vaccines and then learning that the VC have amputated all of the children's inoculated arms. That's what modern Republicans seem to want to be -- tough cadres whose willful resistance to the enemy extends even to medicine. If these folks actually have an alternate proposal for dealing with America's (or even just Arizona's) health care problems, I'm not aware of it.

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