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A “Special Kind Of Human Being”: Rick Santorum’s Despicable And Hurtful Health Care Lie

You have to want to be President awfully badly to purposely scare the hell out of parents whose children face illness and disability in their lives. You also have to be a perfectly despicable human being.

Appearing yesterday with his wife, Karen, on the Glenn Beck program, Rick Santorum joined his wife in ‘revealing’ that it was the passage of Obamacare that motivated them to enter into the presidential race.

According to Karen Santorum, “Because we have as you know a little angel, little Bella, special needs little girl, and when Obamacare passed, that was it, that put the fire in my belly.”

Had that been the end of it, I’d have no problem whatsoever with Mrs. Santorum’s comment. If Karen Santorum feels that there is a better way to protect the health and wellbeing of her child, it is not only her right but her responsibility to do everything she can on behalf of her little girl and every child out there in similar circumstances. I would fully respect her for the same even if I disagree with her assessment of what the law means to her daughter and others who suffer illness.

But it did not end there—not by a long shot. Instead, Rick Santorum chimed in his agreement by arguing that the health care law would ration care based on the ‘usefulness’ of an individual.

It’s all about utilization, right? It’s all about how do we best allocate resources where they are most effectively used? […] Government allocating resources best on how to get the best bang for your dollars and it’s all about utility. It’s all about the usefulness of the person to society, instead of the dignity of every human life and the opportunity for people who love and care for people to give them the best possibility to have the best possible life.

I don’t believe that Rick Santorum knows the first thing about dignity in a human life. He couldn’t. If he did he could not possibly have made such a statement knowing how this would cause fear for so many when it is a complete lie.

Never mind that the ACA has made it possible for children like Bella Santorum to always access health insurance, without lifetime caps and without the possibility for exclusion because of being born with a tragic illness or disability. Never mind that, because of the ACA, children born into a lifetime of medical challenges will never again face a time when they are denied the health insurance necessary to pay for their expensive healthcare needs.

And never mind that we are left to scratch our heads in wonderment that leading organizations such as the American Association of People with Disabilities, National Organization For Rare Disorders, The Arc of the United States, and numerous additional widely recognized and respected groups whose sole purpose is to represent the needs of those Santorum tells us will be deemed disposable, have not only registered their support for the ACA, but have gone to the trouble and expense to actually file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court to defend the law.

Apparently, Santorum either believes that these organizations are led by the dumbest people alive; that they have entered into some sort of deal with the devil to sell out the very people they exist to defend for reasons that escape the rational mind; or he simply could not care less that his statements will be heard by people who are the parents of special children and that they will be terrified.

Let’s take a look at the what law actually does and who it affects.

The government board that Santorum pretends to fear is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) which is authorized to make changes to Medicare—and only Medicare. Accordingly, while some children with challenges like little Bella Santorum could find themselves qualified for coverage in Medicare, young Bella would not be affected by any decisions of the IPAB as the Santorum family has their own insurance coverage. Further, the legislative record makes clear that the IPAB is not to offer any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or increase Medicare beneficiary premiums, increase Medicare beneficiary cost sharing (deductibles, coinsurance, or co-payments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria.

And if, by some evil act, the IPAB does attempt to ration healthcare, Congress has the specific authority under the law to shoot it right down.

If Rick Santorum doesn’t understand the law, he should. And if he is too lazy or finds it too inconvenient to correctly cite the law when lying is so much better for political purposes, then he could,at least, show sufficient humanity to avoid targeting his political potshots in a way designed to frighten those with challenged children.

You see, should the ACA continue to be the law of the land and Rick Santorum is not president, Santorum gets to return to his cushy lobbying gig. But all of these parents with special needs children—the people Santorum has so needlessly frightened—will be left to worry forever because Rick Santorum thought this all made for a nifty campaign pitch.

I guess when your ambition is as big as Senator Santorum’s, you can’t be worried about the damage to you do to those who are the most vulnerable.

I understand very well that many people object to the Affordable Care Act for a variety of reasons. And while I am convinced that if people better understood the law the result would be greater support for the law, this is wholly beside the point.

If your own judgment is that Obamacare is not the best way to address our healthcare problems, fine. That’s what America is all about. If you have a better idea as to how to deal with the issue then, by all means, vote for those who share your approach and work hard to make any change you believe is necessary, even if that includes repealing the Act.

However, when Rick Santorum tells us that the law would deny the right to life and the care needed to sustain that life to children like his own daughter, because such a child would be deemed to not be of  ‘sufficient use to society’, he accuses the President, every member of Congress who supported the law, and every other supporter, such as myself, of being unfit to walk to this earth.

Anyone is welcomed to disagree with my judgment as to whether the Affordable Care Act is a good or a bad law. If my opinion is wrong, it won’t be the first time or the last that this will prove to be the case. But if you are going to accuse me of being willing to allow a child—or anyone else— to die because I would somehow deem her to be inconsequential to society, you’d really better be prepared to not only say that to my face but take the punishment that I promise you will follow.

What’s all the more amazing is that Santorum’s statement doesn’t even make sense.

In point of fact, the elements of the law that allegedly so concern Santorum do not even begin to ‘kick in’ until 2014.  Thus, President Obama would only preside over its implementation for a very few years. And yet, Rick Santorum suggests that he is of the belief  that Congresses and presidents in the years to come—some of whom will no doubt be Republican—would stand idly by while people are allowed to die because they are no longer deemed useful to society.

It is precisely because Santorum’s statement makes no sense, and precisely because he so badly cites the reality of the law, that we know that it is nothing but pure politics. And playing politics with the hearts of people whose lives are already tough enough takes a very special kind of human being—the kind that would never be welcomed at my dinner table.

American politics is a contact sport to be sure. But when the front-runner for his party’s nomination is willing to level charges such as this just to score some cheap political points while giving every parent with a challenged child a false reason to lie awake at night with worry, it is Rick Santorum’s usefulness to our society —not the value of the sick and disabled—that remains very much in question.

By: Rick Ungar, Contributing Writer, Forbes, February 25, 2012

February 27, 2012 Posted by | Affordable Care Act | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paul Ryan’s Moral Barbarism

Karl Rove’s column the other day joined the many conservatives expressing their hurt and anger that President Obama would depict Paul Ryan’s budget as harming sick and vulnerable citizens:

Mr. Obama likes campaigning more than governing. And for this president, campaigning means knocking down straw men and delivering a steady stream of misleading attacks. It means depicting opponents as indecent, heartless people who take special delight in targeting seniors and autistic children.

In fact, Obama has never accused Ryan, or anybody, of having a “special delight” in targetting seniors and autistic children. But he has accused them of pursuing policies that would harm, among others, seniors and autistic children. That’s because it’s incontrovertably true. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities delves into the details of Ryan’s plan to slash Medicaid by more than a third over the next decade, and in half over the next two decades:

  • Seniors:   An overwhelming majority of Medicare beneficiaries who live in nursing homes rely on Medicaid for their nursing home coverage.  Because the Ryan plan would require such deep cuts in federal Medicaid funding, it would inevitably result in less coverage for nursing home residents and shift more of the cost of nursing home care to elderly beneficiaries and their families.  A sharp reduction in the quality of nursing home care would be virtually inevitable, due to the large reduction that would occur in the resources made available to pay for such care.
  • People with disabilities:   These individuals constitute 15 percent of Medicaid beneficiaries but account for 42 percent of all Medicaid expenditures, mostly because of their extensive health and long-term care needs.  Capping federal Medicaid funding would place significant financial pressure on states to scale back eligibility and coverage for this high-cost population, many of whom would be unable to obtain coverage elsewhere because of their medical conditions.
  • Children:   Currently, state Medicaid programs must provide children with health care services and treatments they need for their healthy development through the Early Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) aspect of Medicaid, which provides regular preventive care for children and all follow-up diagnostic and treatment services that children are found to need.  A block grant would likely permit states to drop EPSDT coverage, meaning that children, particularly those with special health care needs, would not be able to access some care that medical professionals find they need (because Medicaid would no longer cover certain health services and treatments for children, and their parents wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for that care on their own).
  • Working parents and pregnant women:   Many state Medicaid programs already have extremely restrictive eligibility criteria for parents.  In the typical state, working parents are ineligible for Medicaid if their income exceeds 64 percent of the poverty line (or $14,304 a year for a family of four), and unemployed parents are ineligible if their income exceeds 37 percent of the poverty line ($8,270 a year for a family of four).  Under a block grant, states could cut these already low eligibility levels even further, cap enrollment, and/or require low-income parents to pay more for health services.  States could do the same for low-income pregnant women who rely on Medicaid for their prenatal care, resulting in them forgoing services that are critical to ensuring a healthy pregnancy.

Now, Rove appears to be a pathological liar, or at least so deeply enmeshed in partisan spin it’s not clear that a distinction exists in his mind between objective truth and claims that are useful to his side. But many other conservatives have likewise expressed what has the ring of genuine outrage that Obama would accuse Ryan of snatching medical care away from people in nursing homes, very poor families, special needs children, and so on. I think it reflects, in part, an inability or lack of desire to think with any specificty about the concrete ramifications of imposing extremely deep cuts to Medicaid. Who do they think is on Medicaid? Prosperous, healthy people?

No, Medicaid is a bare-bones program throwing a lifeline to people who are in bad shape. Cutting Medicaid may be the politically easiest way for Ryan to clear budget room to preserve Bush-era revenue levels, as Medicaid patients have little political clout. But it is, well, deeply immoral. I’m actually surprised that conservatives not only can’t seem to imagine (or care about) the consequences of such policies, but they can’t even imagine that people like Obama would actually feel moral outrage at their plan. They can’t imagine a liberal objection as representing anything other than an attempt to score political points. It’s bizarre. I mean, of course Obama finds it morally objectionable to take away medical care to people in nursing homes and children with special needs. That’s why he’s a Democrat.

By: Jonathan Chait, The New Republic, May 3, 2011

May 3, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Democrats, GOP, Governors, Health Care, Health Care Costs, Health Reform, Medicaid, Politics, President Obama, Rep Paul Ryan, Republicans, Seniors, States | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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