Did you catch the Republican/Tea Party Presidential debate? It seems that the Tea Party movement has a vision for the United States — we should set as our goal the ruinous policies that led to the Great Depression. Herbert Hoover believed firmly that government should stay out of the way of business, and that there should be no government regulation of business or of investment policies, even as America sank to the depths of the Depression. Government could offer no solutions for reversing the 25% unemployment rate of the early 1930s. Sound familiar?
In terms of Health Care policy, the Tea Party takes a more modern approach. Dr. Ron Paul stated that if people have no means to pay for catastrophic medical illness, then churches and other charities should pick up the tab — just like they did 50 years ago when he was in practice. I wonder how long Huntington Memorial Hospital and Verdugo Hills Hospital could survive on the bounty of church charity? I also wonder if the best and the brightest students will continue to pursue medical educations, knowing that they will be paying off huge student debts and starting family life dependent on the charity of churches? Conservatives love to proclaim that we have the best medical care in the world. Don’t kid yourself — we’re not even close, and we are falling behind each year.
I find it fascinating that Tea Party activists seek to protect outrageous compensations for CEOs of major firms yet are willing to jeopardize their own health care. If we continue to have huge numbers of uninsured patients, then hospitals and trauma centers will close. The quality of physicians will fall as medicine becomes another mid-level civil service job. So who will take care of the Tea Party activist when he is hit by a drunk driver or when his child develops leukemia? Clearly, it is more important that the CEO of Anthem Blue Cross is outrageously compensated than that our own health needs can be addressed.
I guess I’m wrong — the Tea Party really isn’t about “looking out for No. 1.” Rick Perry and his followers are looking out for someone else — it just isn’t middle America.
Sandra L. Wallace, M.D.