By Katie Kieffer
“Deeply and deceptively interesting,” is how New York Times Magazine described Sen. Harry Reid in January of 2010. Deceptive indeed. Five years later, Reid’s cache of secrets in the Senate chamber puts Harry Potter’s wizardry to shame.
Two chambers—House and Senate—comprise the U.S. legislature. Our bicameral structure helps keep raw political power in check. Yet without term limits, a bicameral legislature is not enough to restrain the ambition of politicians like 75-year-old Reid who have held public office for decades.
Grab your candle and follow me as I guide you through the backmost rooms of the Senate chamber, where Reid hides five dark healthcare secrets. Ignore the cobwebs, broken wall lamps and thick layer of dust. Few human beings ever traverse this quiet corridor.
First Secret: Women and Children Last
In Washington, many politicians on both sides of the aisle behave like members of a “Good Old Boys Club” with one unwritten rule: Never Be Chivalrous.
A chivalrous man is one who, finding himself on a sinking ship, helps all the women and children board the lifeboats first. A chauvinist man is one who gets a girl pregnant and then kindly offers to pay for an abortion—with his father’s money.
Sen. Harry Reid made the news last week for opposing a $214 billion Medicare bill because he is dissatisfied with the bill’s low level of perks for his pet organization, Planned Parenthood. According to CNN: “Reid believes language that is attached to the [additional allocations of] health center money would expand an existing federal ban on using taxpayer funds for abortion services.”
Rising costs are sinking the “ship” of Medicare as the program assumes 10,000 new Baby Boomer recipients a day. Despite his dark sunglasses, Reid sees the disaster coming. Boehner and Pelosi’s “bipartisan” plan to spend $214 billion is not a long-term solution for doctors or their Baby Boomer patients. Unfortunately, Reid opposes their plan for the wrong reason—a fear of falling out of good graces with Planned Parenthood.
If Reid believes children are “first,” then he should throw excessive costs overboard to reform Medicare rather than forcing every American taxpayer to contribute to a coffer of fungible dollars for health centers that perform abortions. The Constitution is silent on the issue of abortion which, per the Tenth Amendment, leaves the issue up to states and individuals. Moreover, reason tells us that all children have a natural right to life—which Reid does not appear to respect.
A chivalrous politician is one who asks his female constituent for input before making major financial decisions—with her money—that impact her reproductive system. A chauvinist politician will pass healthcare legislation without input from female patients or their doctors.
If they balk, he’ll say: Ok, I’ll grant you an exemption. You can go without insurance—by either paying a handsome fine or going to prison. His “exemption” is no exemption. Her “choice” is no choice. She wants excellent, ethical and affordable health insurance that she chooses without threat of fine or imprisonment. He offers her the opposite.
Young women of my generation, the Millennial generation, must stand up. Millions of us are approaching our prime childbearing years. We owe it to ourselves to speak out against the chauvinists impinging on our natural rights of free speech and choice.
Second Secret: Socialized Medicine Hurts Young Entrepreneurs
70 percent of Millennials aspire to become entrepreneurs according to a recent Deloitte study. I’m a young entrepreneur. So are many of my friends. The health insurance plans that we are eligible for under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) offer us fewer options, at a higher rate.
I am opting out of the ACA through one of the few current legal routes for withdrawal: joining a healthcare sharing ministry. Until we repeal the ACA, this is a great emergency healthcare plan for a young and healthy person who rarely needs a doctor. If I have eligible medical expenses, I submit them to the ministry. For individual doctor visits, I pay out of pocket at the often-lower cash rate. I pay a monthly rate of $185 a month—and I know exactly where my money is going. For example: For Sara Smith, who was tested for an abnormal heartbeat; or For Joe and Lacy, who are expecting a baby in August.
Young entrepreneurs facing pregnancy often struggle to find affordable out-of-pocket maternity coverage. Unlike the ACA, most healthcare sharing ministries embrace life from conception and thus have very generous maternity offerings.
Real people. Real care. Transparent. Affordable for entrepreneurs. 100% my choice.
Third Secret: Peeping Reids Go Unpunished
Male voyeurs, or “Peeping Toms,” face repercussions if caught. Political voyeurs, or “Peeping Reids” face zero consequences for compelling you to join a socialized medicine exchange via a website rife with security vulnerabilities. Here’s a sampling:
January 20, 2015: The Associated Press reports, “The government’s health insurance website is quietly passing along consumers’ personal data to outside websites [advertisers]…”
January 23, 2015: Amidst public outcry the administration agrees to dial back some, though not all, of the personal information HealthCare.gov shares with third party websites.
February 20, 2015: The New York Times announces, “About 800,000 taxpayers who enrolled in insurance policies through HealthCare.gov received erroneous tax information from the government…”
March 1, 2015: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) releases a report citing ongoing “problems” and the need to “further implement system development best practices” for HealthCare.gov.
Fourth Secret: ACA Could Triple Your Chance of Depression
This month, the CDC journal Preventing Chronic Disease reported that unemployed Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 were 3.17 times more likely than their employed peers to become depressed. Nearly 15 percent of Millennials have been unemployed and over a third—a historic high—have been living with their parents during the Obama reign.
AdvaMed revealed empirical data to the Minneapolis Star Tribune in late January showing that the heavy tax levied on the medical device industry—Congress’ way of “paying” for universal healthcare—costs tens of thousands of American jobs. 14,000 jobs were lost in 2013; 4,500 industry jobs were lost in 2014; and an additional 20,500 jobs will be lost within five years. The administration needs to rake in $26 billion by beating an unemployed horse—I mean, through taxing the medical device industry—over the next 10 years in order to “pay” for the ACA.
Talented Millennials are facing meager job prospects, reduced hours or lower benefits. Socialized medicine was supposed to make us healthier. By ushering in higher levels of under- and unemployment, it has instead made us more vulnerable to debilitating depression.
Fifth Secret: D.C. Conflates Fancy with Functional
Giorgetto Guigiaro is the entrepreneur behind many famous hot rods. He now designs cars for the Volkswagen Audi Group. In March, he told the Wall Street Journal that a common design mistake is ‘to design something that has no other value than being something “new.” If it has no function, it is not design.’
We can all agree to improve healthcare. We can also agree that we did not need to extirpate our healthcare system in order to improve it. Four years after Obamacare passed on that fateful Christmas Eve of 2009, the vast majority of Americans (79 percent) told Gallup that they were satisfied with the quality of their plans.
Most Americans preferred a functional plan over a fancy Healthcare.gov plan which often amounts to no plan at all (when many employers drop insurance altogether) or an unaffordable plan (especially for the self-employed).
Of the nearly 300 doctors that I interviewed for “Let Me Be Clear,” close to 90 percent said the ACA would “discourage talented young people from attending medical school and exacerbate the shortage of doctors and surgeons in the U.S.” They also thought the plan would raise costs and lower the quality of care for all Americans, especially Millennials.
Thank you for joining me on this tour of Harry Reid’s Chamber of Secrets. Now you can see why PolitiFact deemed the current administration’s promise of If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it, the 2013 Lie of the Year. Pass these secrets on.