Let’s be clear about U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn’s plan to supposedly “save” Medicare: It will make health care less accessible and more expensive for the program’s elderly participants.
Under his plan, this country would undoubtedly become a sicker nation. Overall, seniors would suffer more physical pain and die earlier. CoburnCare would become synonymous with a nation that placed a fleeting, right-wing ideology above the basic care of some of its most vulnerable citizens.
For those ideologues here in Oklahoma who would describe my argument as “MediScare,” I can only agree that, yes, people who are approaching retirement age and those who currently use the program should be extremely scared if CoburnCare becomes a reality.
MediScare, CoburnCare, ObamaCare, all of the hyperbole comes down to this: Do we accept that health care is a human right or not? Coburn apparently thinks it isn’t.
This week, the Muskogee Republican, and lame duck U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, introduced a plan that would raise the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67 and force all seniors to pay more for premiums. Wealthier seniors would pay more, but everyone would face increases.
There are other aspects to the program, but it’s clear the bottom line of the proposal is for people to wait longer to become eligible, either relying longer on employer or personal insurance if they have it, and paying more once they do become eligible. If enacted, this is sure to lead to people putting off needed health care and becoming even sicker. The argument or crux of the proposal is to stop as many older people as possible from going to the doctor in order to reduce the federal deficit.
Note how in this Coburn press release, there’s no mention of actually improving medical care for seniors or making it more accessible for them. It’s about “saving” a program by gutting it, which makes no rhetorical sense. Coburn argues, “Doing nothing and letting seniors fend for themselves is the least compassionate and least responsible option,” but his proposal would make many, many people “fend for themselves.” What if you don’t have the money to pay?
Coburn’s lack of basic compassion for people’s health care needs is remarkable because he’s a medical doctor and a self-described “spiritual advisor” with a supposed Christian worldview. Shouldn’t he be working to lower the Medicare eligibility age and lower medical costs for individuals, old or young? Shouldn’t he be worried about the poor and about people suffering with disease? Shouldn’t he want more people to go to the doctor as often as they need so they can be healthier?
But right-wing ideology, an ultra-conservative corporate media here and a duped constituency informs Coburn’s current political path. Seniors and soon-to-be seniors should be beating the pots and pans in protest at each and every Coburn town hall meeting, especially now, but do they even know what the man is up to in Washington given the local media’s biased coverage?
Here’s another point: Only a couple of senators positioned like Coburn and Lieberman can get away with introducing such a mean-spirited plan. Coburn was recently reelected, and he comes from a relatively small state that produces its fair share of kooky, right-wing political ideologues. Nothing new here. Coburn IS the political milieu here. Lieberman, once a Democrat and a vice presidential candidate, has announced he will not seek reelection in 2012. He shouldn’t even be part of the discussion.