During the debate over the American Health Care Act last week—specifically, the provision that allows states to seek waivers to get out from under the Affordable Care Act's mandate that insurers cover preexisting conditions and essential health benefits (see page 8), North Carolina congressman Robert Pittenger said the following: "People can go to the state that they want to live in. States have all kinds of different policies and there are disparities among states for many things: driving restrictions, alcohol, whatever. We're putting choices back in the hands of the states."
In other words: if you have a preexisting condition, you can always find a more accommodating state.
Our commenters were not amused. Let's take a sampling.
Caleb Sisk: "I wish Pittenger would 'find a new state.'"
Carolyn Cobb: "So you have to live the right life, and being born is not living the right life, so you are to be punished! I have had asthma for most of my seventy-one years, otherwise healthy; my grandson was born a type 1 diabetic. These are autoimmune illnesses. Were we not born right?"
Etsisk: "Do these people hate themselves so much that they hate everyone else as well? Or are they just simply self-centered jackasses to have such disregard for their fellow humans? It has to be one or the other for them to act the way that they do, best I can tell."
Skip Martin: "My daughter was born with a congenital heart defect. She's had six open-heart surgeries and seven catheterizations. This would be a preexisting condition under the ACA. Obviously it didn't occur as a result of living a high-risk lifestyle. Some people are just plain idiots."
Lynanne Smith-Winters: "It's time for the people of this country to stand up and say 'stop treating us like sh**!' Vote them all out and look into having their health care repealed and replaced! Maybe when they start paying for their own insurance and stop getting a handout from us, the taxpayers, then maybe they'll understand what's it's like for some people!"
Wendy Foster: "Pittenger and the GOP keep repeating the fallacy that 'market forces' will increase access and lower cost in 'for profit' health care. Since history, basic logic, and simple common sense prove the opposite, either Pittenger and the entire GOP are delusional or they are lying. Deceptive talk about 'increasing freedom' or 'decreasing regulations' really means increased freedom for insurance companies to screw you and fewer rules to make them pay for actual health care. Obamacare is not perfect but it is progress. Its 'regulations' generally put people over profit by prioritizing your health care rights over corporate greed."
Pittenger did have one lonely defender, Kyle 1, who said this (and maybe doesn't completely understand how the AHCA will function): "Do you guys also want to be able to purchase car insurance after you're in an accident? What about life insurance after someone dies? Sound fair?"
Finally, something not related to health care. Chrisso Johnson writes about David Klein's story last month on how the rise of music streaming is affecting local musicians ["Streams of Consciousness"]: "Years into this debate and we're still seeing the same mistruths being pedaled. Yes, the cost of CD media came down, but the cost of musicians, studios, and the time it takes to write a great song remained the same or increased. Musicians have always sold merchandise at shows. Streaming hasn't invented new income from selling T-shirts at your show. That income already existed. Streaming stripped out the income from record sales. So most musicians now earn much less, not more or even the same. It's no surprise the musicians you give as examples all have day jobs or live day-to-day on little income. Is that a good thing for the music scene and music lovers worldwide? No."