Compassionate conservatism

Eric Cantor, the chief Republican whip in the House, says that no one should be unable to get medical care. But he’s unwilling to do anything about it.

Rep. Eric Cantor, the chief Republican whip in the House, has a reputation as less rabid than many of his co-partisans.

But apparently Cantor isn’t any more realistic, or any less cold-hearted. Consider the following bit of dialogue from a public forum on health care reform:

CHURCHILL: I have a very close relative, a woman in her early forties, who did have a wonderful, high-paying job, owns her own home and is a real contributing member of society. She lost her job. Just a couple of weeks ago, she found out that she has tumors in her belly and that she needs an operation. Her doctors told her that they are growing and that she needs to get this operation quickly. She has no insurance. […]

CANTOR: First of all I guess I would ask what the situation is in terms of income eligibility and the existing programs that are out there. Because if we look at the uninsured that are out there right now, there is probably 23, 24% of the uninsured that is already eligible for an existing government program […] Beyond that, I know that there are programs, there are charitable organizations, there are hospitals here who do provide charity care if there’s an instance of indigency and the individual is not eligible for existing programs that there can be some cooperative effort.  No one in this country, given who we are, should be sitting without an option to be addressed.

I agree with Cantor:    Given who we are, no one should be without a way of getting life-saving health care.  But he’s unwilling to match his pious hope with any action.    That woman is likely to die for lack of health insurance.    Think of it as rationing, American style.

And what does Cantor propose to do about it?  Precisely nothing.  It’s not enough to wish that the situation were different.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

7 thoughts on “Compassionate conservatism”

  1. So, Cantor is in favor of Death Panels made of members of Congress who know our health care system is in crisis and choose not to do anything about it, leaving people like the woman in this example to seek the "kindness of strangers" (charity) or death. Good to know. Bet he gives to the homeless folks on his way to work too.

  2. Conservatives always try to push society's problems onto the backs of the charitable people. Conservatives demand a Thousand Points of Llight free ride. "Let a point of light person spend their time and money to heal the sick and feed the hungry. I'll spend mine buying up the economy and government."

  3. Again (as in most of these problem stories) this sounds like someone who had the option of COBRA coverage.

    It is not entirely clear to me how saying:

    Everyone has access to COBRA-like coverage.

    Everyone MUST buy COBRA-like coverage.

    The current much-cheaper-than-COBRA coverage that most of those not covered by large-group plans have is no longer available.

    Is supposed to make someone who had that as an option and chose against it better off.

  4. "Again (as in most of these problem stories)" : Have you been attending every event where such stories are being told, reading every single blogpost/article with such stories, etc., and keeping some sort of running tally? Does "most" mean 51% or 99%?

    Nobody knows yet how much the public option will cost, if indeed we do get one. But at the least, it, unlike COBRA, will not run out. The story Churchill tells is about a woman who just became unemployed recently, but would the moral be any different if she had a COBRA plan and then found out she had cancer? Because the plan would run out and then, sometime less than 18 months later, unless things change, she surely will not have insurance coverage for her cancer treatments.

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