What does it mean for the OC, when three of our Supervisors say “Thanks But No Thanks” to $10 million in Federal Healthcare Money?


And also, like, what the fuck?  Is this what you voted these guys in for?

Nelson, Bates, Moorlach. "We've GOT great health coverage. We've got money. We're Republicans. We want Obama out. DUH. Do the math! What is WRONG with you people?"

I sat down to write this piece, having been alerted that three of our five Republican Supes had blocked our OC Health Care Agency (HCA) from applying for $10 million in available grants from the Feds.  Then I quickly discovered that the Liberal OC’s Prevatt already did the heavy lifting on this two days ago.  That’s fine.  But I can spare you Chris’ dense bureaucratese and insufficient outrage.

Obamacare was passed by Congress in 2010.  Some of us like it, some of us don’t, and if some have their way it’ll be repealed next year, but for now it’s the law of the land, and it’s paid for with our tax dollars.  And it provides millions of dollars in grants for preventive care programs across the nation, programs which have been shown scientifically to save MUCH MUCH MORE in illness-care than they cost.  Remember how your grandpa used to say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?”  He said that because it was true.

So our own OC HCA, no political hacks but professionals tasked with improving the health and reducing the costs of care for this County, applied for one of those grants – a $40,000 one to “model worksite wellness policy… [to] be piloted at HCA creating tool kits and disseminating lessons learned to other governmental worksites.”

Here I want to give a big shout-out to the whole idea of preventive care, which can be thought of as subversive to the medical-industrial establishment.  No doctors get rich off it, no hospitals or medical supply manufacturers get rich off it, no big pharmaceutical companies get rich off it.   Republicans, who are allegedly “conservative,” should celebrate preventive care as a proven way to rein in unnecessary spending down the road by government, businesses, and individuals.

But the Board majority, having final authority over what our HCA can apply for from the Feds, nixed their request.  This comes on the heels of their rejection of a much bigger program last year – a $10 million ($2 million a year over 5 years) grant to “to support community activities that prevent chronic diseases and reduce health consequences of chronic diseases such as cardio vascular disease, stroke and respiratory diseases.”

And what is these Supervisors’ stated reason for rejecting these millions of dollars in available, preventive healthcare funds? BARACK OBAMA is the reason.  Obamacare, as they call it (as do I, having no objection to the catchy moniker.)  As Board Chairman Moorlach put it, “I’m taking the posture that if it’s anything to do with, I’ll use the term ObamaCare, I’m going to be a ‘no’.”

The Register‘s utterly un-brilliant Brian Calle (pictured to the right as “Salacious Crumb,” court jester of Jabba the Hut) immediately cheered on the Board’s politicized move as “a bold decision that more local elected officials throughout the state and country should emulate. It sends a message to President Barack Obama and his administration: We do not want nationalized health care, and we will not help implement it.”  (Of course Obamacare is nothing like nationalized health care, but I wouldn’t expect the callow Calle to understand that.)

If these Republican politicians want to defeat Obama’s health care reform, they should focus on defeating Obama in the ballot box and/or in court, not by yanking its paid-for benefits from the very citizens they’re supposed to be serving.   As Prevatt points out, the BOS majority is utterly failing in its stated mission of:

“Making Orange County a safe, healthy, and fulfilling place to live, work, and play, today and for generations to come, by providing outstanding, cost-effective regional public services.”

I’ve got no brief for any of these OC Supervisors, and we give Bill Campbell and Janet Nguyen a lot of grief here, but they did the right, pragmatic thing this time, dissenting from the majority.  We know that Shawn Nelson and John Moorlach are hard-right ideologues, and partisan warriors – especially Moorlach.  What about Pat Bates though?  I’d thought she was more reasonable.  Can any of her constituents out there call her?  Can there be a re-vote on this?

After talking to Shawn Nelson

In contrast with Moorlach, who made it clear that his prime motivator is nobly just saying NO to Obamacare, hoping that if enough localities do that it will just go away as unwanted and unnecessary, Shawn (my cousin from another coven) claims that while he’s no fan of Obamacare, it’s not a “litmus test” to him, and he doesn’t rule out requesting Obamacare money in the future (assuming it survives court challenges and the 2012 election.)  He just thinks that the particular program HCA was wanting funded was STOOPID and unnecessary.

According to Shawn, the program mostly consisted of telling high school kids that secondhand smoke is dangerous, and that a sedentary lifestyle with Cheetos diet will wear on your health after a while – a program to teach kids things they ALL ALREADY KNOW while giving stoopid bureaucrats a chance to pad their resumes and justify their miserable existences.

Hm.  This is not what the program was at all, according to Prevatt’s article.  It was about “workplace wellness.”  I’m going to have to look into this discrepancy and figure out just WHO is blowing smoke here!  I asked Shawn about the rejected $10 million request from June 2011, and he couldn’t remember what that was about – “Sort of…the same thing, I think.”  Does he just not pay attention to what programs he’s rejecting?  I’ll update this tomorrow after I investigate further.

Shawn says what kids need is NOT one more program telling them things they already know, but MORE EXERCISE, and less little paper slips excusing fat kids from running laps.  At the very moment we were speaking, he told me he was busily ferrying a batch of kids to football practice.  “What we should be putting money into is more P.E. programs!”  Well then!  What if Shawn got together with the decision makers at HCA and brought his ideas to them – seeing as how he’s not above requesting Obamacare money after all, maybe the grants could instead be for more exercise programs that also include that education component?

For now, other counties, other states, are going to be getting these millions of dollars, which are TRYING to come to the OC and keep getting chased away by Moorlach, Nelson and Bates!

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 vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.