Shameless Bloody Campbell (first in a series)

campbellFour years ago, when he was still just my wingnutty state senator, John Campbell responded to a letter of mine seeking his support in statewide healthcare reform by opining that the bill in question, SB 840, “creates an open-ended entitlement to healthcare that distances consumers even more from the financial consequences of their own decisions.”  Get that – if, like thousands of his constituents, you can’t afford the inexorably rising costs of health insurance, if, like thousands of his constituents a year, you go bankrupt from your medical bills even though you thought you were insured, or die for lack of coverage, you are only getting what you deserve, because of your own foolish “decisions.”

Slithering soon thereafter into a vacated Congressional seat, the former used car salesman took his humane policies onto the national stage.  Over the summer, in response to my comrade Allan Beek’s suggestion that the age for eligibility for Medicare be gradually lowered over the years, his legislative aide candidly admitted, “We don’t want to expand Medicare. We want to eliminate Medicare.” (D’OH!  Once Campbell and his fellow Republicans learned that Democrats are trimming hundreds of millions in real waste and fraud from Medicare, they recast themselves as valiant defenders of the immensely popular government-run health program – this after fighting it tooth and nail since its inception.  Pace Orwell, “WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AT WAR WITH OCEANIA.”)

Now, after refusing all year to hold any healthcare townhalls, and taking a brief respite from accusing veterans of fraud, carrying Birther bills, and trying to wangle special regulatory exemptions for his own industry, he has penned a mendacious Register column lambasting healthcare reform, entitling it “House Health Bill is Horrible” like some ten year old who has just discovered alliteration.   To “fisk” this entire symphony of misrepresentation would be a tedious exercise for which I would require payment, but the burning question keeping you at the edge of your seat is of course:  Well, what is John’s solution?  How would John address the problem of 45,000 Americans dying each year from lack of access to healthcare, millions of medical bankruptcies each year mostly involving people who were insured when they first got sick, and the percentage of our GDP spent on health care inching implacably toward 20%? WHAT IS JOHN CAMPBELL’S SOLUTION TO THE CRISIS?

LOL.  The question is not only rhetorical but facetious.  John Campbell is a Congressional Republican!  And if you were to make use of a magnifying glass or microscope to help you ascertain the subtle differences between the various Congressional Republicans, that would be John off to the right – a chest-thumping Ayn Rand fanboy.  The “Republican Health Plan” that the wingnuts were waving in the air during the President’s September address to Congress really did turn out to be blank pages with a cover.  And although they have been finally filled in with this joke bill, Alan Grayson’s trenchant summary of the plan is still spot-on:  “#1, Don’t get sick.  #2, If you do get sick, die quickly.”

And yet… is this really fair?  Isn’t there a little more to the vaunted Republican healthcare bill (Campbell’s prescribed solution) than reflected in Grayson’s glib dismissal?  Well… yes.  It is actually worse than “Die quickly”:

  • According to the CBO, the number of uninsured would stay roughly the same under the bill, ensuring the death toll would continue unabated;
  • Also according to the CBO, it would save $36 billion LESS than the Democratic plan does, hence wasting that much if it managed to supplant the Dem bill;
  • The bill doesn’t include some of the most popular insurance regulations in the Democrats’ bill, including a ban on pre-existing condition discrimination;
  • The Republican panacea of “allowing insurance to be sold across state lines,” which they deviously present as a boon to consumer choice, is actually an insurance company wet dream (surprise!) which would allow them to be regulated by whichever state (Mississippi?) has the most lax regulations.  HELLO more RESCISSION and DENIAL OF CARE!
Well, damn!  Reasonable observers would say that John Campbell really doesn’t care how many of his constituents die or go bankrupt, as long as billions continue to be made in the process.  Do voters in the 48th Congressional district, a majority of whom voted for the healthcare-reform-touting Obama, have a choice next year?  So glad you asked, and in fact I dialed up his opponent Beth Krom to get her reaction to the Campbell screed:

When hundreds of constituents descended on Congressman Campbell’s office this summer to demand meaningful health care reform, neither he nor his staff gave them the time of day. When Congressional representatives throughout kromAmerica were hosting Town Hall meetings, Campbell didn’t host a single public event to engage constituents or invite questions. He claims to have a better plan, so let’s hear it. If it doesn’t ensure access to basic healthcare for all Americans, then it is simply an endorsement of the current system in which insurance companies are free to discriminate, people who lose their jobs cannot afford to maintain health insurance, those who have insurance are often compelled to select high deductibles just to afford their portion of the premium and tens of millions of Americans are uninsured. How can America have the best healthcare system in the world when we are the only developed nation in which an elite system of health access places insurance company profits above the well-being of our citizens?

Congressman Campbell had five years under the Bush administration to speak up for the tens of thousands of citizens in his district who are uninsured and one serious illness away from complete financial ruin. The truth is, it’s easier to obstruct those who are seeking solutions than to do the heavy lifting necessary to address the very real challenges facing our nation. So much for better ideas. Let’s face it, when it comes to healthcare reform, Congressman Campbell’s prescription is to do nothing at all.

(Hat-tip to my new assignment editor Red Vixen)

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.