Congress is debating something called "Healthcare Reform." As with all such things, what will finally come to the President for signature will bear no resemblance anyhow to anything anyone anywhere has proposed.
One thing not likely to be messed with too much in this debate is my right to Medicare, which is not to be confused with any new-fangled "government run health plan." We Golden Age types are adamant about our right to unlimited health care. It's we old folks to whom the politicians listen -- we are the ones who actually go to the polls and vote.
Medicare is what they call an "entitlement" program. That means that if I'm healthy enough and play it safe enough to live to be 65, I'm entitled! Why? Because making it something-for-everybody was the only way President Lyndon Johnson could get the darn thing through Congress. For the record, the record does not record how many "earmarks" LBJ had to swallow to mostly get most of what he wanted.
As someone purporting to be a responsible American what bothers me about healthcare reform is this: To how much am I entitled?
Whenever a fellow is admitted to any hospital medical types go through a list of health history questions. These questions are all essentially the same (believe me, I'm something of an expert on the subject). What always amazes the nurses is, other than that annoying chest pain thing, I'm in good health. There is simply nothing else wrong with me.
The doctors all tell me I am "young," and since I'm in such good health seem to think, yes, indeed, I should be entitled to whatever can be done to keep that annoying heart thing from stopping completely.
On the other hand (to continue my example)...
If you've known me more than, say, five minutes, you will have become aware that standing is not my thing. Because of a leg problem, probably from birth, walking, standing, even sitting have always been activities found notably painful. It is quite inconvenient, but my leg problem is never going to kill me.
Now comes in the mail an advertisement from a well-known firm selling those battery-powered wheelchairs (they carefully use a marketing euphemism). It's certainly a quality of life situation, but think I could get one. One local doctor, knowing me since 1996, could testify I can't walk very far. Of course an electric wheelchair is something of a one-way street: The less I would walk the less I could walk. The cure adding more to the problem than what I'd have without the cure -- but most medical things turn out that way.
According to this mail solicitation their product won't cost ME anything. Medicare and my supplemental insurance will pay for something that has been a prior existing condition since before there was a Medicare.
I'm thinking that "Free" means somebody else (you?) would be paying for my quality-of-life "need." But, I'm entitled, right?
To return to the question my example elicited: As someone purporting to be a responsible American what bothers me is this: To how much am I entitled?
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.