Crazy socialists!

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November 14, 2018

I am in the checkout line at the Lawrenceburg Kroger when the couple in front of me stalls to chat with the cashier. “You know I’d have done quit already if I could,” the wife says, sliding her credit card. “But he’s the one I’m worried about.”

She nods her husband’s way, but he shrugs her off. “Between the shoulder he fell on last winter, his knees, and the neck thing, I mean, he’s still got 12 years to Medicare, and I got 14. I pray to the good Lord we make it and that we can both still walk when we do.”

I take in every word because I have just read a Facebook post from an old friend. This friend lives in France half the year, and she’s posted a story about how, after a long flight from Minneapolis to Nice, her husband collapsed coming out of the shower. So she did what she does in France. She called her doctor and he came right over, helped her get her husband into bed, figured out he was just badly dehydrated, got an IV going, and left.

No ambulance. No ER. No panic. The cost? Nothing.

This is what socialized medicine looks like in real life. Not the scary ads politicians like Andy Barr bombard you with on TV, not two years to get a simple surgery, and not long lines in a clinic. Well-run, socialized medicine looks like my friend’s story: a doctor who does all the basics for one small area of town and gets to know his patients as both caregiver and friend, all paid for by the government through taxes.

This August, I went to my 35 year high school reunion. The day of our big shindig, we got bad news. One of our classmates, a sweetheart of a man who’s been fighting cancer for a few years, was being moved to hospice, and this not only cast a pall over the night, it sparked a lot conversation over beers and loud music about illness, aging, and healthcare.

A teacher with a chronic illness: I’d retire tomorrow, she told me, but who can afford private insurance? Plus, I don’t trust that pre-existing conditions will always be covered, and I am still years from my pension. I have a family. I can’t take that risk.

A long-haul trucker from a large family: My wife and I are moving to North Dakota, he said. She’s been sick a lot, so she needs me to be home more, and I can get a driving gig up there with good insurance and where I’m home most nights. But how do I leave here, how do I leave my family?

I could go on, but you get the point. Like the woman in line at Kroger, we are all throwing the Medicare dice. Good Lord in Heaven, we should or could retire … but healthcare: 65 or bust!

I am a Democrat, so I have spent a lot of time the last six months talking about healthcare (Amy McGrath’s plan included a Medicare buy-in at age 55) which means I have spent a lot of time hearing the word “socialist” screamed my way.

For the record, I am not a socialist. I believe in the free market economy. But I also believe that our workforce would be a whole lot more productive with accessible, affordable, you-can’t-ever-take-this-away-from-me medical care.

Imagine if my teacher friend could simply retire because she’s done teaching, opening that job for a new teacher who really wants to be there for our kids.

Imagine if my truck driver friend, a nice man with a decent savings, could stop driving altogether to stay home and with his sick wife instead of having to move to another state, far from his family, to work for healthcare coverage?

I know you’re skeptical, so I encourage you to Google a 2008 NPR story titled, “Healthcare Lessons from France” to learn more about what good, nationalized healthcare looks like.

And ask yourself this: if socialized medicine is so evil, why are you so desperately praying to reach age 65 so you can sign up for Medicare, the American version of socialized medicine?

My friend’s France story continued into the next day. She was taking her morning walk around the neighborhood when she ran into her doctor coming out of someone else’s house. How’s Ronnie? he wanted to know. And as they talked, she said she’d forgotten one of her medications back in Minneapolis. No problem, the doctor said, and pulled out his prescription pad and wrote the prescription for her, right there in someone else’s driveway.

Crazy socialists. Who in their right mind would want healthcare like that?

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