Who’s Trying to Kill You This Week: Orrin Hatch

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09/02/2009 1:58 PM |


In this weekly feature, we follow the national healthcare debate, because we are masochists.

Just because Ted Kennedy called healthcare “the cause of my life”, that doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t have come around to pass “center-right” healthcare legislation that would leave the government out of it. (Just like Medicare!) So says Orrin Hatch, an actual turtle.

He has said this before, when Ted Kennedy was alive, and it was just as disingenuous then.

When Ted Kennedy died we noted in our obituary that he wrote a book about healthcare in 1972 — In Critical Condition: The Crisis in America’s Health Care. Let’s journey back through those pages now, Reading Rainbow-style, with Tim Noah at Slate.

An amazing quote, right off the bat, from a chapter subtitled “Why Private Health Insurance Must Fail”:

We can no longer afford the health insurance industry in America, and we should not waste public funds bailing it out.

There is no place for profit-making and competition for profits and high salaries in health insurance. These motives are at the root of the failure of the health insurance industry to offer adequate protection to Americans and to assure that the health care system is responsive to America’s needs.

Even if we provided comprehensive government programs for the insurance industry’s biggest problem cases—such as the poor the disabled, the elderly, those with chronic diseases—and even if we wrote and enforced complex government regulations to reduce the gaps, exclusions, and other traps in private insurance [as the current health reform bills do], the insurance industry still could not bring about change in the health care system to control costs, improve quality, and offer health care services in a way most acceptable to the people. The industry would remain a moneychanger taking a percentage of our dollars for a dubious service.

In case you skipped that because somehow long quotes in blog posts are more like real reading than blog posts are, he’s basically pointing out that he, Ted Kennedy, is a communist who thinks that a National Health Service-type system is the only practical, moral solution to the healthcare crisis. Now.

We all know that Olympia Snowe is the only Republican in the Senate who even wants to extend health insurance — just health insurance, by the way, not even really healthcare — to the fifty million Americans without it. What kind of compromise does Orrin Hatch, in his heart of hearts, actually think he’s talking about?

It’s true enough that Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch were improbably close friends and wrote many emo songs in tribute to one another. HOWEVER. To suggest that Master Legislator and Picasso of Parliamentary Compromise Ted Kennedy would have abandoned pretty much everything he stood for (for decades), for the sake of a bill his bosom friend Orrin Hatch could have voted for, is patently absurd, and to repeat the suggestion so closely following the death of your friend is nothing short of grave-robbing.