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[cancer] HCR, one conservative and me - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2010-01-26 15:42
Subject: [cancer] HCR, one conservative and me
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, health, healthcare, personal
Had a very revealing chat with a conservative friend today. We've known each other for over ten years. He's a very nice guy, classic Midwestern conservative in his politics, about which we occasionally trade friendly jabs.

On the back of another call he asked how chemo was going. We talked about that, and I mentioned the problems with the HCR bill, commented that the possibility of not overturning lifetime coverage and pre-existing condition limits were alarming to me.

He complained that there was nothing in the Constitution about a right to healthcare, and he was sick of liberals redistributing wealth. The metaphor he used for publicly-financed healthcare was sick people walking down the street asking everybody to pay $20 for their treatment, and why should he have to do that?

I pointed out that one of the purposes of government is to maintain the commons, that he never gets back the portion of his taxes that go to bridges or fire prevention, either. In a society as wealthy as ours, in my opinion, healthcare should be a right. We can afford it.

He said, fine, don't take it out of my pocket. I told him that by the time I'm done with chemo, my treatments will have cost the insurance carrier about $350,000 over the past 26 months, and me about $15,000 in both out of pocket and indirect costs. That if I'd had to bear the $350,000 myself, I'd be dead now. And how is a profit-based insurance system ever going to be incentivized to pay that kind of money for me, except by Federal mandate?

He told me it was the principle of thing, that he just didn't want to see wealth redistributed so freely. I told him I wasn't willing to die for that principle of his, and if he got sick like I am, he wouldn't be either. And that this could happen to anyone, it wasn't ideological or behavioral, it was life. He reluctantly acknowledged I had a point.

I don't think for a moment I changed his position on this. But that is what daveraines calls a "pain story," and maybe I helped him see my perspective a little better with my pain story.

The thing that baffles me about so many of my conservative friends is that they hold high-minded beliefs with horrid, even deadly consequences. They tend to be so deeply unwilling to acknowledge the consequences of their own beliefs. This once, I got a conservative friend to acknowledge for a moment the true human cost, to someone he cares about, of one of those high-minded beliefs.

I won't call it a win, but I will call it progress.

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Danny Adams
User: madwriter
Date: 2010-01-26 23:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
>>He complained that there was nothing in the Constitution about a right to healthcare...<<

And so I reiterate my love of the 9th Amendment.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
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Randall Randall
User: randallsquared
Date: 2010-01-27 00:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, my right to health care and your right to keep what you've worked for are directly opposed, so I don't think the 9th has much to say on it. :)
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Patrick Nielsen Hayden
User: pnh
Date: 2010-01-27 00:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"The thing that baffles me about so many of my conservative friends is that they hold high-minded beliefs with horrid, even deadly consequences."

This thing you call "holding high-minded beliefs." It's different from what we call "being a selfish git" exactly...how?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-01-27 00:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
They sound good to people who say them? Hell if I know...

I just know he sincerely sees himself as principled, not selfish.
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User: mmegaera
Date: 2010-01-27 02:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:quilting
Sorry. Needed to edit.

Good for you. I wish that conversation could be held at least that persuasively with every conservative in the country.

Because, demonstrably, even having a relative in your fix would not convince some conservatives. Does he realize that if he or his company buys health insurance for him, your health care costs are coming out of his pocket?

Sending good thoughts (and virtual spoons and quilts) your way.
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User: sacchig
Date: 2010-01-27 02:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The whole insurance concept is a transfer of wealth. Some pay into it and are lucky enough not to need to draw on it to any great extent, while their payments go to provide services for those who need more. Factoring profit for the insurance company into that equation just means that even more wealth is transferred.
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mcjulie
User: mcjulie
Date: 2010-01-27 02:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
BINGO!
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e_bourne
User: e_bourne
Date: 2010-01-27 02:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Something really interesting happened in your debate with your friend. It happens all the time. He was saying "Apples, apples, apples." You were saying "Oranges, oranges, oranges."

It's not apparent at first, but what clouds the issue is that you have a deep personal perspective he doesn't, and can't share. It's going to be apples with him unless something sincerely bad happens to his health.

It's a values argument with enough personal emotion on your side he can set your arguments aside as "personal."

There's nothing in the Constitution about many of the laws we follow. Breaking it down to Constitutional law is silly, and means we should also cancel medicare/medicaid and social security. We stop many federal laws that cross state boundaries. Like drug laws, and racketeering laws. If he is also in favor of that, he's a strong Libertarian and give up. Really.

People who argue from values need to understand that their values are shared, and that indeed, public health care is a financial and social benefit to him, even if he is never sick a day in his life. A single payer health care system would save tax-payers money (and I wish I could remember where I ran across the quote today on how much it would reduce the deficit), and a healthy society protects all of our well being.

We pay for police, not because we can't own guns and dogs and prevent robbers from entering our houses, but because it is good for society to pay for a force that maintains general order.

A single payer health system is like having medical police. Does he think having police is a good idea?

That's the tack I would use.
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CatJuggling
User: catjuggling
Date: 2010-01-27 06:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you for such a clear comparison. I've been looking for something like that.
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horace_hamster
User: horace_hamster
Date: 2010-01-27 02:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
A (medic) friend of mine once said that the easiest way to judge a society was by looking at the level of medical care it provides to its poor people.

I think he's right.
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adelheid_p
User: adelheid_p
Date: 2010-01-27 02:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think you need to let him know the amount of time and energy that you spend trying to convince your insurance company to cover things that they've covered in the past. "Insurance" companies are all about not paying because they're in the business to make money. Healthy people don't care about this until it happens to them (or someone they love). And, I'm really wondering if he has particular people in mind. If you were really quoting him verbatim, it sounded almost like a code to me. "Redistributing wealth."
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peanut13171
User: peanut13171
Date: 2010-01-27 03:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My aunt, who just had a cancerous kidney removed, does not want health care reform because she thinks it will affect her Medicare. She also has lupus, is very overweight, and has been seeing a doctor for something at *least* once a month for years. Her attitude: "I got mine and I don't care about your problems." Pisses me off.
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Little and foxy and sexy... what more do you want?
User: little_foxy
Date: 2010-01-27 03:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
wow... all I can say is I am glad I don't live in America... I live in Aus and I truly love the health system we have, it isn't necessarily coping with the demand our aging population is starting to place on it, but everyone regardless of economic status can receive health care.

I think what worries me, is the comment...
"He complained that there was nothing in the Constitution about a right to health care"..

ummm how about it is a basic human right? Or does he not see 'poor' people as human...

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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2010-01-27 03:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Of course, he is already paying for the treatment of others through his health insurance payments (even if he doesn't think so). And he is healthy and treatable only as long as it remains worth said private company's while to pay out. I'm so sorry you're stick with that system.
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Hyacinths
User: wordswoman
Date: 2010-01-27 04:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Your friend should meet my friend's daughter Trixie. About knee-high. Cute as a bug. Born with a heart condition...to two self-employed parents. Every insurance company they approached denied her coverage.

This is the face of health insurance denial:


When my dad was being treated for brain cancer, he told me that if he completed all the recommended courses of chemo, his out-of-pocket costs for the chemo drugs would be around $35-$40,000. I remember thinking, "What happens to the people who can't pay that?"

The simple answer is: "They die."
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fledgist
User: fledgist
Date: 2010-01-27 12:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
They don't have an automatic right to life. They're not foetuses.
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Kenneth Mark Hoover
User: kmarkhoover
Date: 2010-01-27 04:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I can't speak for your friend. But many conservatives would not mind it at all of Americans just crawled to the side of the road and died.

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auriaephiala
User: auriaephiala
Date: 2010-01-27 04:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Even from a strictly Hobbesian viewpoint, it seems to me that keeping you specifically alive is a good thing for society. You have many decades left of useful contribution to society -- why not take advantage of that?

Does your neighbour not care whether you're around to pay your share of taxes or otherwise contribute to the body politic?

Besides, of course, being morally right and helping one's neighbour, and all that. And I certainly don't think it's right to get rid of people who are older or sicker etc. either.

But what do I know, being a Canadian?
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ygolonac
User: ygolonac
Date: 2010-01-27 04:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."


There ya go, it's in the Constitution. I could even argue that it's part of 'insure domestic tranquility' cause if I was gonna die due to being unable to afford medical care in this country, I'd cause a violent ruckus before I went out.
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wyld_dandelyon
User: wyld_dandelyon
Date: 2010-01-27 07:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh, very good point. "Insure domestic tranquility" is another good one, actually: people dying for want of care that their neighbors get is a good way to cause lots of anger, which leads to all sorts of un-tranquil behavior.

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Msconduct
User: msconduct
Date: 2010-01-27 05:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
As a New Zealander, I've never been able to fathom the US conservative position on healthcare. Until I read this entry, I never fully understood that they really do mean that they don't care if other people die because they can't afford to pay. They really feel that. Wow.

The public healthcare system in New Zealand is far from perfect. But I'll take our rationed, underfunded, not as technologically advanced as the US's system every time, not just because I can't imagine what it must be like to have to think when you receive bad health news "How am I going to afford this?" but because it's based on a belief New Zealanders share that it's a good thing to hand over a bit extra of your cash so that nobody has to go without medical treatment. That's the only kind of society I want to live in.
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