Just so we’re clear. I’m a pinko commie big government nazi. I don’t really want to kill your grandmother but I do think it’s a smart idea to talk with your doctor about what you might want when you’re experiencing more pain than pleasure at the end of your life.

I’ve lost some of the little sanity I have left listening to the health care debate. I’m as annoyed at the Democrats as I am at the Republicans. I’m perpetually embarrassed at how stupid the debate has been considering what’s at stake. I am angry for myself and for those I have lost to illness; and I am angry for every American who worries about his or her healthcare, and the health of those they love. I’m angry for everyone who has spent hours dealing with their insurance companies for reimbursements they deserve; for everyone who has given up and gone without the care they need or the care their doctors tell them they need.

I have spent a significant amount of time over the past years watching friends and family die. I have sat beside loved ones as they’ve gotten chemo, waited for them to come out of radiation, and multiple surgeries. I’ve combed through doctors’ and hospital bills trying to figure out why and how everybody seems to be billing for what seems to be the same thing.

I have watched as my mother’s cancer spread everywhere throughout her body, finally to her brain. I watched as anxiety and paranoia replaced her normal graciousness. I watched as she lost large parts of herself; and watched as her savings evaporated, as “the gaps” in her multiple health insurance policies grew and grew.

So, for me, this is not a debate about phony notions about socialized medicine. I know that even though we need national healthcare – that we need to get rid insurance companies who add unnecessary overhead and unreasonable profits to what should be simple transactions between patients and medical care providers – we won’t get it. Not this year. Not next year. Not with Democrats and Republicans who take money from drug companies and health insurers.

What this needs to be is a debate about ordinary people who unfortunately get sick and what medical care should be about: very talented doctors and nurses and hospital support people helping others get better. And how as a society we can do this in the most humane way and pay those who do this extraordinary work a fair wage.

A friend of mine – a very smart person – showed me a little bit about what one goes through to apply for Medicare. I urge you all to go to the Medicare website and take the trip. First, figure out what the heck they’re talking about with Part A and B and C and D. Part A and B are pretty straigthforward. It’s gets really complicated when you move down the alphabet. About Part C: gap insurance. About Part D: drug coverage. There’s a great game you can play: try to figure out the prescription drug coverage you can afford, and which drugs you’re prepared to do without because you can’t really afford them. Try your best to figure why different insurance companies charge such different prices for your monthly coverage, or such different amounts for your blood pressure medicine. About your different deductibles.

I know you are very busy, and you probably don’t need to deal with Medicare just yet. But I guarantee you, you’ll learn a lot.

Then, when you’re done, do me a big favor and tell me why we can’t enact a simple public option that brings efficiency and sanity and reasonable competition and price controls to the process.

Just maybe you’ll go through the process and think everything’s just fine. Then you can call me a pinko commie big government nazi.


Mickey Friedman is trying to figure out which agency he has to apply to in order to get his “pinko communist big government nazi” membership card.

Thursday September 24, 2009 © Mickey Friedman – All Rights Reserved