We get Goodlatte now, loud and clear

Column by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

Is the issue really choice? Because if it’s not, Bob Goodlatte is seriously misfiring.

“Rather than creating a massive government-managed health-care bureaucracy that will dictate medical decisions from Washington,” Goodlatte told News Virginian reporter Bob Stuart yesterday, “we should be concentrating our efforts on making health care more affordable for all Americans and giving them the freedom to choose the health care and health-insurance plans that best fit their needs.”

Goodlatte, a Republican who has represented the Sixth District in Congress since 1993, was talking to Stuart in reference to a news conference held by his Democratic opponent, Sam Rasoul, in which Rasoul highlighted his support for HR 676, a proposed single-payer health system that is absolutely not what Goodlatte says it is.

“HR 676 is a compromise because it combines the cost-savings benefits of a single-payer system with the freedom of a privately delivered health-care system. So the doctor you have right now will continue to be your doctor, hospitals will continue to run themselves, the government has nothing to do with managing health-care facilities. This is not socialized medicine,” Rasoul said.

And so it is that Goodlatte is beating a dead stalking horse, to mix a couple of metaphors. Republicans have gifted us Americans, in what is the wealthiest society mankind has ever produced, with a health-care system that leaves nearly 50 million of its citizens without basic health insurance, and many millions more on the brink of joining their ranks.

A local business owner illustrated how it is that people are teetering on the edge by sharing his story at Rasoul’s news conference on Wednesday. Terry Holmes is the owner of the successful Mill Street Grill restaurant in Downtown Staunton. He would be even more successful if he didn’t offer his employees basic health-insurance benefits, which have more than quintupled in bottom-line costs since 2001, and are expected to rise sharply again this fall.

“I’m not going to pass all the increases onto them, but I have to pass some of them,” said Holmes, the owner of the popular Mill Street Grill restaurant in Downtown Staunton, talking about insurance costs that have gone from $75 per month per employee in 2001 to nearly $400 a month today, with another $85-a-month increase expected this fall.

Goodlatte’s answer – the congressman favors creating more health-insurance tax credits that he said will “increase the affordability of health care for those who do not have access to employer-based health insurance.”

Goodlatte also supports expanded health-savings accounts, medical malpractice reform and a nationwide health-information technology network.

We’re left to wonder how any of that will actually make health insurance more affordable for the 50 million Americans who can’t afford it now. And how it will help business owners like Holmes and their employees, who might soon have to make decisions like, Do I fix the brakes on the car, or do I keep the health insurance, or Do we cut the gas off, or do we keep the health insurance?

Goodlatte either doesn’t get it, or we’re not getting him. And I say that because, well, he had to mean something when he used the words freedom to choose to criticize single-payer. Could it be that his idea of freedom to choose has to do with the freedom of his benefactors in the health and insurance industries, who have given him nearly $340,000 in campaign contributions over the course of his political career, according to OpenSecrets.org, to choose to continue doing business as is, even at the expense of we, the people?

Come to think of it, I think we’re getting him loud and clear now.


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