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Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) is one of the Senate's true characters.   On climate, he defaults to the almighty, asserting god would not allow his planet to deteriorate. Thus, he gives an inkling that he knows there really is a problem, but has a handy excuse for not doing anything about it.   The health of the planet is left to the heavens.

For his own health, however, he is, curiously, not so cavalier about dismissing human intervention.  Well, perhaps not so curiously.

Indeed, Inhofe not only wants human intervention, he wants it immediately.   Apparently, they discovered he had severe blockage of his heart (coronary) arteries while he was having a screening colonoscopy, and performed Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG) the next day.

I wish Senator Inhofe a speedy and uneventful recovery.

As one of those determined not to allow his own voters such human intervention in their own illnesses, Inhofe is a virulent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, to the point where he would have crashed the entire world economy to prevent it.

Inhofe asserted with seeming certainty that, had he lived in another country with socialized medicine, he would not have had his surgery so quickly.   He also claimed he might have died waiting.   And, he concluded, this is what will happen (or is happening?) under the Affordable Care Act.

According to his website the good Senator is 78 years old.   One can assume that his surgery was paid for by Medicare, i.e., by yours truly.  Or, if Members of Congress do not live under the same laws that we do, that his Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan, also paid for by yours truly, covered his care.   [Or, did the Kochs pay?].

Medicare actually is, almost, socialized medicine.  The "almost" is that physicians and nurses are not employed and hospitals are not owned by Medicare.  Instead, Medicare pays them for services rendered to Medicare patients.  But, it's close enough to socialized medicine to deem it so.  [By contrast, the Veterans Admininstration owns its hospitals and its entire staff is on salary, i.e., complete socialism].

So, what have we here?   Same as when Rush Limbaugh had angina in Hawaii, where they have socialized medicine?   He also received prompt and expert treatment, and he lauded it without knowing it was socialized medicine?  Ignorance, or deliberate ignorance?*  

Anyone treated under insurance arising under the Affordable Care Act ("ACA") will receive care that is much, much less socialism than Medicare.   The ACA regulates the private insurance industry.  It does not pay hospitals or physicians or personnel directly, it regulates the industry and subsidizes premiums to that industry.   In Washington State, for example, we have the choice (under socialism, there is no choice, remember???) of 46 different plans.   When Baskin-Robbins launched, they offered only 31 different flavors, and that was supposed to be a tasty example of the free market at work.

Indeed, the ACA establishes markets in the states for private insurance that was deliberately modeled after the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan, the only other likely coverage for Senator Inhofe---unless, that is, the Kochs insisted upon paying.

In summary, then, Inhofe was either treated under a near-socialist system, Medicare, or the FEHBP that was the model for the ACA, aka, Obamacare.  

If there are complaints about CABGs being delayed because of near-socialist Medicare, or under Obamacare model FEHBP, they are not so numerous to have bubbled to the surface.

So, is Senator Inhofe ignorant, deliberately ignorant or just a jackass?    I would cross out ignorant.   A group of right-wingers I know are super-smart--successful in complex businesses, venture capital investing, finance--but are so driven to find fault with everything Obama that they really have not processed that the ACA is primarily reform of the private insurance industry.

It is one thing not to like the reform, or to oppose all reform, it is quite a different matter not to get that that is what it is.    Since they are all quite capable of getting that if they took a moment to think about it, one can only assume that it is deliberate ignorance.    

The right-wing word guru, Dr. Frank Luntz (don't forget the "Dr.", he gets upset if you do), tested all the accurate words to describe the health care bill as it was being debated, and they all scored positively;  "Washington (or government) takeover of healthcare" scored negatively so that is what the entire right-wing parrots.

Hence, the ACA only became a "Washington takeover of healthcare" because the Right needed to make it that in order to oppose it.

Inhofe, however, was in on the ground floor of all of this.  He was one of those whom Dr. Frank Luntz fed with the initial talking points.   Hence, Inhofe must have realized he was joining a scam when it all began.

At the risk of further undermining Inhofe's premise that he would have died under alternative systems, or the ACA, here are a few additional considerations.  First, the reason the "socialist" systems have waiting times is that they spend about 50% less per capita than we do in healthcare.   If they doubled their expenses (more of just about everything), waiting times would be reduced.  

Second, patients with Inhofe's type of heart disease about to undergo a CABG are classified into three groups: imperative, urgent, and routine, within 2, 12 and 24 weeks respectively.   A study in more than 5000 consecutive patients in Sweden noted that delay in the procedure was not an independent factor in mortality if corrected for age, gender, operative risk and symptoms of angina.  

Third, Inhofe would have been rushed to surgery because he was not just James Mountain Inhofe, but Senator James Mountain Inhofe, just like it was former Vice-President Dick Cheney, not Richard B. Cheney of Wyoming, who received a heart transplant at age 71, a year over the limit.

Whether a plodding member of the Swedish parliament would receive VIP treatment is an open question.

Perhaps that is what really worries the Senator from Oklahoma about the Affordable Care Act.   If so, he can rest comfortably:  socialized medicine in the US has already provided him speedy care.

Again, Senator, deliberately ignorant jackass though you may be, best wishes for a speedy recovery.

*It was tempting to add the absurd example from Investors Business Daily that claimed that if the brilliant physicist, Stephen Hawking, had to live under the British National Health Service, he would not have been kept alive. Of course, Stephen Hawking is British, lives in Cambridge in the UK, and is kept alive by the NHS.
But, who could put James Inhofe and Rush Limbaugh in the same article as Stephen Hawking? That would have been even more absurd!

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