QUESTION: With more and more cuts in Medicare and Medicaid on the horizon, I’m really worried about protecting our frail elderly in the Medicare and Medicaid facilities. So I would like to know how Congress proposes to balance the budget and still make sure our frail elderly in these facilities are protected and have trained care staff.
COBURN: That’s a great question. The first question I have for you is if you look in the Constitution, where is it the federal government’s role to do that? That’s number one. Number two is the way I was brought up that’s a family responsibility, not a government responsibility.
The answer to Coburn’s first question is Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. The Constitution gives Congress the power to “to lay and collect taxes” and to “provide for the…general welfare of the United States.” No plausible interpretation of the words “general welfare” does not include programs that ensure that all Americans can live their entire lives secure in the understanding that retirement will not force them into poverty and untreated sickness.
While Coburn’s first question reveals his need to actually read the Constitution before he pretends to know what’s in it, his second question betrays his utter disconnect from the reality ordinary American families face. The annual cost of nursing home care in Tulsa is $47,815.00. So Coburn apparently thinks that it is a family’s responsibility to either wipe out their savings or face crippling debt in order to ensure that their parents and grandparents are cared for.