During yesterday’s mark-up of the HELP committee’s ‘Affordable Health Care Act,’ Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) questioned the need for reform. “I think this health care is pretty damn good, I think it’s pretty dang good,” Coburn said:
I’ll tell you the other reason I think health care in this country is pretty good and good for my Medicaid patients and good for patients with no health insurance. Because when somebody gets cancer, most of the time we get them well. Most of the time we get them well. Some fall through the cracks, that’s true. But as a two-time cancer survivor, I think this health care is pretty damn good, I think it’s pretty dang good.
But just last month, the senator unveiled ‘The Patients’ Choice Act,’ a GOP alternative to the President’s plan, which recognized the health care crisis. “It is time to publicly admit that the health care system in America is broken…And 47 million Americans worry what will happen to them or their children if they get sick,” a summary of the bill read. Now, just a month later, Coburn, who is clearly satisfied with his own government-sponsored health care plan, has lost interest in helping Americans secure access to affordable.
In his four years in the Senate, Coburn has earned the reputation of “a fly in the soup,” abusing the senate’s hold privilege — a technique which allows senators to “object to bringing a bill or nomination to the floor for consideration” — to prevent “the Senate leadership” from bringing matters to a vote. Remarkably, Coburn’s obstructionism has even led “senate aides to now take legislation directly to Coburn’s office” to ensure “he has no objections.” Last summer, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) wrapped most of the non-controversial bills held by Coburn into one large measure — called the Tomnibus — in an effort to pass the mostly bipartisan legislation.
- Doctor on doctor spying: To establish a demonstration project that uses practicing health care professionals to conduct undercover investigations of other health care providers in order to determine the quality of health care provided by such other providers. [Coburn, 11 & 87]
- Protecting unborn children: To provide for the establishment of an Office of Unborn Children’s Health (O.U.C.H.) [Coburn, 13]
- Toying with legislation: To clarify the intent of the prevention and public health investment fund [Coburn, 17]; Coburn To clarify the intent of the prevention and public health investment fund [Coburn, 18]; To restate the purpose of the Prevention and Public health Investment Fund [Coburn, 19]; To reduce funding and provide for a termination date for the Prevention and Public Health Investment Fund. [Coburn, 20]
Reform may be a joke to the well-insured Coburn, but for the Americans struggling with cancer, access to affordable health coverage is a very serious concern. As the American Cancer Society points out, people who are uninsured are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced cancer and too many insured Americans have a hard time affording their treatments. In Oklahoma, an average family pays $1,900 more in premiums because of the broken health care system and some 50 families “fall through the cracks” every day when they lose their health insurance.