Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid

The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

I read an article recently about how virtually every Southern state has decided not to participate in the Obamacare plan to expand Medicaid, and I found it a little curious. To me, it seemed like a case of cutting off noses to spite poor people’s faces, but to be honest, I really don’t know much about the program.

I don’t think I’m a big fan of Obamacare, but it’s hard to know for sure. I’ve tried to read up on it, figuring if I was informed I could make an educated decision on whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. The problem, however, is that Obamacare’s perceived effectiveness depends entirely on which news source one is reading.

The New York Times and Huffington Post, both of which are left-leaning, paint a rosy picture, claiming that Obamacare is already saving us money. But if one reads Fox News or the National Review, both of which skew far to the right – well, I imagine you can guess what they think of it. Suffice it to say that to them, Obamacare is the worst idea since the abolition of slavery.

Inevitably, with any plan put forth by the Obama administration, the word “socialism” is bound to come up, and so it is with health care reform. Never mind that Greg Pason, the national secretary of the Socialist Party USA, said that Obamacare “is anything but socialist. It’s bailing out for-profit companies”; we’ve had it drilled into our heads that Obama is a socialist, so it must be true.

I, for one, think “socialism” gets bandied about too much these days, but if there’s one place where that description is apt, it’s Medicaid, which I’ve never really understood. Perhaps someone who is more familiar with the inner workings of government and tax expenditures can explain it to me, but here’s Medicaid as I see it: If you’re poor, whether through unfortunate circumstances or sheer laziness, you probably pay almost nothing in taxes, but you get free health care. If you earn a modest living, you pay taxes, but you still have to shell out hundreds of dollars a month for health insurance.

I can’t be the only one who sees the fundamental unfairness in that equation. If that’s not socialism, I don’t know what is.

What’s really galling about the whole thing is that the health insurance that most of us of modest means pay hundreds a month for is essentially worthless. If you’re like me, chances are you have a massive deductible because that’s the only type of policy you can afford, and you’re afraid to file any sort of claim because you know it will jack up your premiums even further.

Of course, if you do get sick and actually need that insurance, you can bet you’ll soon find yourself dropped by the insurance company and sans coverage unless, of course, you’re poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, which you probably will be once you’ve paid off your astronomical deductible.

Now, I’m by no means saying we need to make poor people even poorer by insisting that they buy health insurance. I’m actually advocating just the opposite. Call me a socialist, but I think Medicaid should be expanded to include everyone.

I know, I know: Self-righteous rich folks everywhere are outraged by such an idea and want to know who’s going to pay for all this, but the truth is we’re all paying for it already. Here in the United States, we spend $8,233 per person each year for health care. That’s nearly $3,000 more than the next-closest country (Norway). And despite what some would have us believe, we get worse results. We just do. You can argue that point, but the data aren’t in your favor.

How can I justify such a plan, you ask? It’s simple, really. I think all the things the federal government should pay for are laid out in the preamble to the Constitution, which I know from listening to “Schoolhouse Rock” as a kid.

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice (we’ll pay for courts and judges), insure domestic tranquility (cops and firemen), provide for the common defence (military), promote the general welfare … “

Ah! There it is, plain as day. It ain’t socialism if it’s in the Constitution, right? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather pay (and have poor folks pay, too) a little more in taxes and not have to subsidize the health-insurance industry.

Todd Hartley’s serious: If you can explain how Medicaid isn’t socialism, please do. To read more or leave a comment, please visit