Not looking to pick any political fights here… but I STRONGLY disagree with this sentiment:
At a town hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) appeared to embrace (Texas Gov. Rick) Perry’s claim that providing for America’s seniors is unconstitutional:
QUESTION: With more and more cuts in Medicare and Medicaid on the horizon, I’m really worried about protecting our frail elderly in the Medicare and Medicaid facilities. So I would like to know how Congress proposes to balance the budget and still make sure our frail elderly in these facilities are protected and have trained care staff.
COBURN: That’s a great question. The first question I have for you is if you look in the Constitution, where is it the federal government’s role to do that? That’s number one. Number two is the way I was brought up that’s a family responsibility, not a government responsibility.
I happened to blog about this just the other week. Allow me to paraphrase:
In a modern, technologically advanced society, all of us benefit when the public as a whole shares the responsibility of providing quality, dignified care for the frail and imfirm.
With all due respect to Sen. Coburn… the world has changed since he was “brought up.” Our society allows us to have unprecedented mobility and opportunity. We cultivate families that are more nuclear and less extended. The smaller and more dispersed our families become, the harder it is to provide all of the care that is needed by our older relatives. Sharing the responsibility helps all of us.
In addition, we have access to tools and technologies that are both stunningly effective and stunningly expensive. Sharing the cost of these tools through social insurance programs like Medicare helps make them available to all of us.
Finally, I’d like to remind Sen. Coburn that America without Medicare is a very different place than America with Medicare. Here is a glimpse of what it was like:
My…Paternal Grandmother died in one of those wards. My last memory of her was seeing her in a urine soaked hospital bed in one of those wards, in restraints moaning in pain. She was admitted for a broken hip, and died two weeks later with pneumonia. The year was 1961, before Medicare. My Grandmother was lower middle income she was not what one would consider “poor”, however, it didn’t matter back then if you were old and not rich, this is the health care your received.