The Speakers Task Force is a distraction in search of a gimmick in defense of a lie.
They came to meet in Knoxville today. I got to stay for about half of it before an emergency pulled me out. The last couple of hours I have spent trying to get hold of people hoping they would tell me it got better after I left. It didn’t.
They say you can tell a lot about important somebody thinks something is by how much time they give it. They certainly talked about how important the experience of ordinary people was and how much they really cared. They cared so much about the plight of 280,000 Tennesseans without insurance today that in a 2 hour meeting they talked to 2 or 3 people from the audience for a total of about 4-5 minutes and one of those was a veteran who simply told them they were damned liars. Rep. Sexton started off the meeting by telling the audience he had noted all the close the gap stickers so many people were wearing and that he hoped to give some of them a chance to speak but to please make sure they are brief because they only had the room for two hours. Then he proceeded to spend well over an hour talking about mental health.
The state of Tennessee spent the greater part of two years trying to pretend that a plan that would have provided health care for 280,000 poor uninsured Tennesseans was not only a bad idea, not only an idea beyond repair, but an idea not even worth talking about. It threatened and told people if they spoke out for it they would be tarred with the stain of being soft on Obamacare and tried to tell us all that letting poor people die and suffer needlessly was somehow standing up for Tennessee.
But no one went away. The last session started with promise that it was pointless to talk about it and ended with state troopers trying to push protesters who wanted to talk about it out of Speaker Harwell’s office and lock the door behind them. It ended with billboards all over the state calling the speaker out. And it ended with her saying we need to do something about that we can’t talk about and the task force was born.
My fear from the start was that they would distract the issue. And they have. The trauma of 280,000 has become a search for a better business idea. A form of polite bigotry has been the foundation of much of the conversation. “After all since they are poor we really need to do this in such a way as they have more skin in the game than merely staying alive.” If you listen to what they say you get the horrible feeling that they think poverty is some kind of manipulative behavior people do for personal gain and the demand for health care as just one more effort of lazy people to get something for nothing from those folks who work for a living.
The fear of many was I think that they would use the task force meetings to make the decision to do what they had already decided to do and then propose solutions they knew the feds would never accept and then try to close the subject with a clear conscience with fingers pointed at the federal government expecting everybody to cheer them for trying so hard with people who just wouldn’t listen.
What I heard today and what I have read about in accounts of other task force meetings was a passionate search for gimmicks. They want Walgreen clinics, charity care, Christian health care programs. Anything that has worked for a few, for a hundred, for a thousand they want to sell for 280,000.
The doctors today were very straightforward. Nothing will work without a payer source for people who can’t pay. And the health care system particularly the rural health care system is eroding and will erode to crisis proportions without that payer source.
The only answer to 280,000 without insurance is 280,000 with insurance. And you have a task force trying to solve an insurance problem without saying the insurance word.
It is a shell game. It is look over here and look long enough for me to get inconvenient pieces off the table.
It is the defense of a lie. It is the same argument used by the House of Representatives to kill Obamacare a thousand million times. I don’t need to find a better way to care if I don’t like what is on the table. I just needed to cloak not caring in enough politically appropriate values that no one will look close.
This is the blind leading with the faith we are all blind. They have no ideas that are likely to either get federal approval or more important actually close the gap.
I wish Tracy Foster could have been there and introduced them to her insurance company gofundme. I wish Michelle Farhan could have told them about her daughter’s death. I wish someone could have said this is not about how good of Republicans you are or how conservative you are. I wish someone could have said this is about how good of a person you are.
I wish someone could have said…..
I wish they knew….