Republican politicians in Congress are shrieking in high tones about how government involvement in health care would ruin the US of A, because it’s socialist, and would create rationing, and death panels, and might create a distance between patients and their doctors. I love that last one – the idea that patients and doctors now have a close working relationship that is sustained by the private, insurance-based health care system. Where do these people live, that they could think such a thing?
The truth is, though, that many of these same congressional Republicans actually support government involvement in health care. That’s not just an assertion, or a matter of opinion. They are on the record supporting government involvement in health care, in the form of earmark spending for pet pork health care projects in their home districts.
These earmarks support government involvement in health care in two ways. First, they establish government subsidies for private health care organizations, as is the case with the earmark this year from New Jersey Republican Frank LoBiondo. Second, some of these Republican earmarks actually go to support government-run health care systems.
That’s the case with Spencer Bachus, a U.S. Representative from Alabama. In July, Representative Bachus inserted an earmark into appropriations legislation in order to funnel federal government money to a medical center in Tuscaloosa. That medical center is run by DCH Health System, an organization that describes itself as a “government subdivision that operates a community-owned healthcare system”. The DCH Health System is a government program, supported by government money, not just through earmarks of the sort provided by Congressman Bachus, but directly through taxes as well.
How can Republicans politicians oppose government involvement in health care when they come asking, year after year, for government handouts for health care projects in their home districts? The answer is simple: They’re betting that their their constituents will not pay attention, and that corporate journalists will continue to ignore the issue. That’s a fairly sure bet.