The heartlessness of Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is bad enough, but look at the reaction of the crowd. It is rather heart-wrenching to watch. Coburn basically tells a woman whose husband has a brain injury to go and panhandle his neighbors. If I get a break at work, I’ll have more to say on this terrible scene.
Writing in the New Republic‘s health care blog, the Treatment, Harold Pollock, a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, said that when he saw this clip neither he nor his wife, a clinical nurse specialist, “could … believe what we were watching.”
Neither could I. Here’s a transcript:
Q: Sen. Coburn, we need help. My husband has traumatic brain injury. His health insurance will not cover him to eat and drink. And what I need to know is: Are you going to help him? Where he can eat and drink? We left the nursing home, and they told us we are on our own. He left with a feeding tube. I have been working with him, but I’m not a speech pathologist, a professional that takes six years for a masters’, and I’m trying to get him to eat and drink again [inaud].
A: Well, I think—first of all, yeah. We’ll help. The first thing we will do is to see what we can do, individually, to help you, through our office. But the other thing that is missing in this debate is us as neighbors, helping people that need our help. [Applause.] You know we tend to … [Applause.] The idea that the government is a solution to our problems is an inaccurate, a very inaccurate statement.
Pollock, his wife, and Philip Pizzo, dean of Stanford Medical School, found Coburn’s answer to be deeply disturbing. I did, too, of course. But what truly shocked and depressed me was not Coburn’s let-’em-eat-cake response but the fact that it wasn’t met in the room with a collective sharp intake of breath. Instead, Coburn received two quite robust bursts of applause. I have no idea how Congress and the White House can possibly sell health care reform to people like that. (more… )
Thanks to Political Animal for pointing this video out to me.