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The Little City Weed

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The Republican Party of Virginia’s crusade against national health care reform made a small advance this week when a Virginia judge with ties to the party refused to throw out a lawsuit brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R – Way Right Wing).

 

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The Republican Party of Virginia’s crusade against national health care reform made a small advance this week when a Virginia judge with ties to the party refused to throw out a lawsuit brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R – Way Right Wing).

The occasion reminds me to ask a question which has been heavy on my mind lately: what exactly is the Virginia plan for health care, again?

Virginia is not health care heaven. The state rarely appears above a median ranking in key measurements of extent of coverage, cost or quality of care. Too often we can be found in the moribund bottom third of state rankings in those areas.  According to state data from 2008, approximately 21 percent of Virginians have no health insurance; mostly, of course, children, minorities, and the rural poor. With coverage, cost, and quality measurements on health care trending down sharply for all Virginians (from Virginia Performs data available at www.vaperforms.virginia.gov).

The glee, then, of our governor, attorney general, and members of the Republican Party of Virginia at their success in poking a stick in the eye of national health care reform is befuddling.

Virginia Republicans are not attempting to reform our struggling state health care system. They are not even seriously trying to defend the quality of the current system. No, Republicans simply want to deny Virginians access to a national health care reform as a political demonstration of “states rights.”

On the eve of national health care reform becoming law, Virginia Republicans passed a law which prohibits the federal government from requiring Virginians to purchase health insurance.

(Context Alert: The national health care law includes provisions which would fine consumers who do not have health insurance $95 a year starting in 2014. People below the poverty level are exempt from the requirement. There would be no enforcement for not paying the fine).

The state law has become the basis for Virginia Republicans attacking health care reform. Concerned about protecting the rights of a small but beloved group of local recalcitrants who want to thumb their nose at reform and have neighbors pay for their inferior medical care, Virginia Republicans think it best to destroy the concept of health care reform for all Americans.

It is Virginia, so this has been cast as a foundational issue of states rights, federalism, and the intent of our founders. Virginia Republicans are standing in the courthouse door prepared for massive resistance, again, because nobody … nobody … tells us we cannot own slaves, or have to let mixed races marry, or have to integrate our public schools, or not sell liquor to minors, or tell us not to discriminate against gays.

The political histrionics of Virginia’s challenge to health care reform can be entrancing.  But if one steps back a bit, and considers the people (those with no insurance, insurance with no portability, folks with preexisting conditions, the working poor, rural residents, and students among others) who will benefit from reform, the self-aggrandizing of Virginia Republicans is sickening.

 


Michael Gardner is a quixotic citizen and founder of the Blueweeds community blog.