Scott Brown Comes Out for a New Hampshire State Healthcare-Insurance Public Option. In the Name of Freedom. Cool!**
[Annotation added below.]
I’ve written here on AB, extensively now, about the invidious co-opting of the word “freedom” by the political far-right. I’ve addressed this mainly in the context of the conservative Supreme Court justices’ neat trick of disconnecting the word from any relation to actual physical freedom as long as it is a state court (in criminal cases and in a variety of civil cases, e,g. adult-guardianship and conservatorship cases, as well) or a state or county prosecutor’s office rather than the federal government that violates federal constitutional rights in order to remove physical freedom. This is done in the name of federalism as allegedly envisioned by James Madison.
And on Saturday, I addressed it in the context of the Cliven Bundy matter, which includes the support he’s received from the likes of Nevada Senator Dean Heller. The immediate occasion for that post was to note that this bizarre appropriation of the word “freedom” to justify doing whatever the invoker of “freedom” wants to do–which, for the Supreme Court’s invokers, includes obsessively requiring that state courts, but not state legislatures, be entitled as “sovereigns” to violate individuals’ federal constitutional rights; I really can’t stress this enough–is finally, thanks to Bundy, being recognized by actual professional pundits. Specifically, by New York Times columnist Gail Collins in her Saturday column. Paul Krugman used his bi-weekly Times column this morning to highlight it.
And today, courtesy of Greg Sargent, I see that New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown (late of Massachusetts) is invoking “freedom” in the anti-Obamacare crusade. Which of course is, to understate it, not an invention of his own. What is, though, is his claim now that “freedom” is impacted only when the provisions in Obamacare that he says he supports conceptually are part of something “dictated by Washington.” Just as “freedom,” by definition of that word, isn’t being denied by state-courts-as-sovereigns in, say, criminal cases or adult-guardianship cases, or in any cases except those that hold corporations liable for such things as defective products or financial-services fraud, “freedom”–by definition of that word–is not denied when a state legislates the same provisions as Obamacare.
“Freedom” is what Brown said he is advocating, in order to free New Hampshirites from the disaster of Obamacare. The disaster being the now-familiar litany of ACA “horror” stories. But, while I continue to await some enterprising reporter’s (or a campaign staff member for Dem. Senate candidate Gary Peters) locating of Julie Boonstra’s congressional testimony, given long before Obamacare, asking Congress to end her freedom to have to worry about the excessively high price of her leukemia medication,* a price that apparently was of serious concern to her despite her beloved Blue Care plan that she wanted so badly to keep in order to not be forced to save at least $1,200 a year under her new plan that includes her doctors and coverage for that medication, I’ll note a Yahoo Finance article published this weekend that actually did identify some losers.
I’ll ignore the fact that the article’s title, “Obamacare hurt these people the most,” sounds like it was written by a Koch brother, and instead point out that the article itself looks to be a straightforward report indicating that some number (about a million, apparently) healthy middle-aged people are paying somewhat more for the broad-coverage insurance that is very similar to the one they had that was cancelled because of Obamacare.
Except, of course, that the one they had that was cancelled because of Obamacare also could have been cancelled if they actually got sick, and that that plan probably had an annual coverage maximum and probably a lifetime coverage maximum too. But it is understandable that the 50-year-old freelance writer in North Carolina featured in the article, who voted for Obama in 2012, is unhappy that his monthly premium rose from $411 to $540 for what he says is nearly identical coverage. And so he’s now cutting anti-Obamacare ads.
I think he should move to New Hampshire, so that he can vote for Scott Brown. Sure, Brown’s running for senator, not governor, but he’s promising that once Obamacare is repealed it will be replaced in New Hampshire with nirvana. I mean, with Newhampshirecare. Which sounds like Obamacare, except with “individual freedoms.” Specifically (so to speak):
I’ve always felt that people should either get some type of health care options, or pay for it with a nice competitive fee. That’s all great. I believe it in my heart. In terms of preexisting conditions, catastrophic coverage, covering kids — whatever we want to do, we can do it. As a matter of fact, in New Hampshire, I would encourage everybody to do a New Hampshire plan that works for New Hampshire, that deals with individual freedoms, and doesn’t have mandates put on by bureaucrats in Washington….a plan that is good for New Hampshire…can include the Medicaid expansion folks who need that care and coverage.
That’s the ticket! It wouldn’t have mandates put on by bureaucrats in Washington. It would have mandates put on by bureaucrats in Concord. Ah, “freedom.” I mean, freedom.
What Brown and other high-profile Republicans, including soon-to-be presidential candidates from, say, Ohio, actually are doing is arguing for a “public option.” By claiming that Obamacare is a disaster because some small percentage of the individual insurance market is seeing premium increases for similar coverage over their now-cancelled plan, and because some are unhappy with the narrow provider networks available–yet by also saying that a healthcare law with “freedom” must mandate coverage to people who have preexisting medical conditions–they are, necessarily, defining a public option for healthcare insurance.
As Krugman points out yet again today in a blog post: Obamacare looks the way it does because it has to. [His italics.] Republicans can’t offer an alternative because there isn’t one–aside, that is, from single-payer, he says. What these people are spouting is jibberish. [My italics. And my phrasing.]
“Freedom” by any other name smells as fishy. And that’s true even if it’s a state rather than “Washington” that’s imprisoning you. Or “imprisoning” you, as the case may be.
*In a Detroit News article published on Mar. 10, reporter Marisa Schultz said Boonstra told her that “she’s never been a political person beyond advocating for lower-cost oral chemotherapy treatment in Washington.” Added 4/29
**Title punched up and final sentence added for clarity. 4/29.