When the U.S. Senate voted last week to resolve the recent crises, one member missed all the drama: Sen. James Inhofe. In this case, however, the Oklahoma Republican had an excellent excuse: Inhofe recently had quadruple bypass surgery, and is still recovering.
In fact, as the senator moves closer to returning to Capitol Hill, he’s using his heart surgery to condemn the Affordable Care Act in an especially creative way.
After going in for a routine colonoscopy, doctors found Inhofe’s arteries were so clogged he barely made it onto the operating table, he said in comments airing on journalist Aaron Klein’s WABC radio show tonight.The 79-year-old suggested that if he had been in a part of the world with “socialized medicine like Obama is trying to impose upon America,” the operation never would have happened.
“A person can find out, here in the U.S., that he has this emergency situation where he has got to have immediate heart surgery. And if you are in a country other than the U.S., a lot of them, you can’t get it done. In my case, with my age, that would have been about a six-month wait. Because I hadn’t had a heart attack,” he said.
I am, of course, delighted that Inhofe is on the mend, and I wish the senator a speedy recovery. I also hope that he take advantage of this downtime to brush up on the basics of American health care policy, because when he makes comments like these, much of the public may not realize he has no idea what he’s talking about.
Let’s recap the basics. First, the Affordable Care Act is not “socialized medicine.” Given its dependence on private insurers, it’s not even close to “socialized medicine,” and those who claim otherwise clearly don’t know what “socialized” means.
Second, the United States does have some “socialized” health care systems – most notably Medicare and V.A. hospitals. Both systems include immediate, emergency heart surgeries all the time.
Third, in many European countries, where socialized medicine is largely the norm, people who need immediate, emergency heart surgeries receive life-saving medical treatment every day.
Fourth, Inhofe and others who may be confused by his rhetoric need look no further than Massachusetts, which has relied on an Obamacare-like system since 2006. Are residents of the Bay State dropping dead because hospitals are denying care to those needing immediate, emergency heart surgeries? Not in this reality.
And finally, because the Affordable Care Act covers routine preventive care, and will expand coverage to millions of American families, more people who need heart surgery will be able to get it, and others will have problems detected early so that surgery isn’t necessary. What’s more, these folks will no longer have to worry about their insurance being taken away from when they need it most, or fear annual or lifetime caps during the recovery process.
In other words, literally everything Inhofe said is practically the exact opposite of the truth.
Get well soon, senator.