Friday, March 19, 2010

Mary Pilcher Cook, Scott Schwab would rather people get sick than lose their 'freedom'

Posted by on Fri, Mar 19, 2010 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge Mary Pilcher Cook doesn't want Kansans to have health insurance
  • Mary Pilcher Cook doesn't want Kansans to have health insurance

A cabal of Republicans in the Kansas Legislature have grown desperate in their effort to prevent 280,000 of the state's citizens from getting health insurance.

Sen. "Mean Mary" Pilcher Cook of Shawnee and Rep. Scott "Dopey" Schwab of Olathe are among those pushing the Kansas Health Care Freedom Amendment, a document full of disingenuously patriotic sounding gibberish that would supposedly protect Kansans from being subjected to the tyranny of health insurance.

We've broken down their silly proposal before.

But with the possibility that Congress might actually pass federal health-care

reform legislation this weekend, Pilcher Cook and her

fellow travelers announced the launch of a Web site dedicated to fighting it in Kansas.



In a statement earlier this week, Pilcher Cook said, "It is important that

Kansans have their voices heard to prevent further erosion of our

citizen's rights."

This forced us to call an actual expert, Corrie Edwards. As the executive director of the Kansas Health Consumer Coalition, Edwards has a reality-based idea of which Kansas voices actually need to be heard.

click to enlarge Corrie Edwards
  • Corrie Edwards
"This goes back to a belief -- that I don't share -- which is

that government can't mandate health insurance," Edwards said. When reform backers point out that the government mandates car insurance, Edwards says, "The argument against it is

always: It's your choice to buy a car." (Right. And if we're not forced to buy health insurance, we'll have a choice about whether we get sick.)

The good news, Edwards said, is that Senate Judiciary Committee killed that chamber's

version of the Health Care Freedom Amendment yesterday -- but it's still in play in the House,

where it's being championed by Rep. Brenda "I Sold My Soul to the Medical Industry" Landwehr.

Similar amendments have also been proposed in most other states. Edwards says it's not clear whether these amendments are even legal. But the thing she really wants Kansans to know: "The state was $110 million short in revenues for the month of February. We take in millions and millions and millions a year from the feds for Medicare and other sources. The issue for me as a taxpayer is that Kansas could potentially lose those millions if we chose to opt out of health-care reform."

But legislation that would provide tax credits to small business

owners, put a cap on out-of-pocket health care expenses and prohibit

insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing

conditions -- apparently, that threatens civilization as we know it,

according to Pilcher Cook, Schwab and others.

"Right now we have

330,000 Kansans without insurance," Edwards says. Under the current proposal, an additional 228,000 Kansans will gain

coverage by 2019.

The Health Care Freedom Amendment pushers, she says, "are taking

a bold step of saying, 'We don't want more Kansans to have access to care.' I wouldn't want to be the one making that decision. I wouldn't want to face my constituents."

The most misleading argument against reform, Edwards says, is "that

it's going to cost a buttload of money." But, she notes, "this is the

amount of money we spend in just a few months with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and bailing out the

wealthiest companies in the country. I don't want to hear any more about

how this is going to cost us all this money. That price tag of $940

billion looks like a

lot of money, but when you

think about what we spend on everything else, it's not a lot of money.

It's just not. And research has shown it'll decrease our deficit over the

next 20 years."

Besides, she says, "I

want people to think about how much it's costing middle class folks as

far as a hidden tax -- when people who are uninsured go to emergency rooms or don't pay their medical bills. Right now the middle class is the bearer of these expenses."

Though the reform legislation from Washington might still be flawed, at least it will impose some regulation. "Finally we'll have some rules," Edwards says. "We need rules because

the industry has just simply taken advantage of this situation. When you can

go to the hospital and you're paying $50 for a bandage, or $120 for an aspirin. We got a call the other day: A woman went to the ER at St. Francis in Topeka thinking she was having a heart attack. They told her that she wasn't -- and billed her $738 for being told, 'You're not having heart attack.' We hear these stories every single day. This is real life."

Too bad for Pilcher Cook and Schwab, but real life is more complicated than their patriotic-sounding bullcrap.

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