Commentary: Who Exactly Does Obama Expect to Pay for a Middle-Class Maryland Man’s $10,000 Emergency Surgery?

By Terence P. Jeffrey | July 23, 2009 | 8:44 AM EDT

President Obama demonstrated last night that his health-care reform is all about redistributing wealth and increasing the power of the federal government.

In fact, it is all about taking money away from school teachers in Pocatello, Idaho, auto mechanics in Los Angeles, Calif., and newly employed college graduates in Columbus, Ohio and giving it to a middle-class man in Maryland to save him from $10,000 in debt—all the while increasing the power of the federal bureaucracies and politicians that will oversee this transfer of wealth.

In the opening statement for his press conference, Obama explained that his urgent demand that the nation’s health-care system be dramatically transformed is all about an unnamed man in Maryland.

“I've heard that one Republican strategist told his party that even though they may want to compromise, it's better politics to go for the kill. Another Republican senator, that defeating health-care reform is about breaking me,” said Obama. “So let me be clear. This isn't about me.”

So, who is it about?

“This is about the middle-class college graduate from Maryland whose health insurance expired when he changed jobs, and woke up from the emergency surgery that he required with $10,000 worth of debt,” said Obama.

This is about every family, every business and every taxpayer who continues to shoulder the burden of a problem that Washington has failed to solve for decades,” said Obama.  “This debate is not a game for these Americans, and they can't afford to wait any longer for reform.”

This raises an obvious question: What is unjust about a middle-class man in Maryland having to pay $10,000 for a life-saving emergency surgery?

Do the highly trained and professional technicians, nurses, doctors and hospital managers who saved his life not deserve to get paid?

Was $10,000 too steep a price for this man’s life?

This “middle-class college graduate from Maryland” almost assuredly paid more for a single year in college than he will pay for this surgery that saved his life.

In all probability, this middle-class man owns a car--or at least would like to soon buy one--that costs more than his $10,000 life-saving surgery.

Quite likely, he will pay more in rent or on a mortage in a single year than he will pay for the surgery that added many more years to his life.

Obama made no coherent argument for why it is a bad thing—as opposed to a good thing—that this middle-class college graduate lives in a country where he can have a medical emergency and--without even knowing what is happening—he can be saved by first-rate medical professionals—even though he has no health insurance.

Despite his lack of insurance and despite the emergency that brought him to surgery, Obama’s middle class man, at the end of the day, owed his health-care professionals less than it would cost him to buy a mid-sized sedan from the federally-owned General Motors.

Yet, if Obama does not want a middle-class college educated man in Maryland to cover the costs of his own $10,000 emergency surgery, who does he want to cover the costs?

He wants you and me to do it. He wants your kid’s kindergarten teacher to do it.  He wants the “rich” small businessman/mechanic, who owns his own auto repair shop, and who does such a great and conscientious job keeping your old car running, to do it.
He wants the five guys who work at that auto shop--who never went to college like the middle-class man from Maryland but thanks to a “rich” small businessman are making a good living in the United States—to pay for it.

Look around your neighborhood and look around your life at all the people you know who are making sacrifices everyday to raise their own kids, keep their own businesses going, and who routinely put off gratification today to save for their own tomorrows. Look at the Americans you know who are responsible for themselves, who depend on their own wits and hard work, who don’t whine and complain about their lives and demand that the government take care of them.

These are the people that President Obama wants the federal government to force to pay for a middle-class college educated man’s $10,000 surgery.

But Obama’s middle class man in Maryland is going to discover he has a very real problem of his own with Obama's health-care plan. He is going to be paying for everybody else’s health care, too—through the intermediary of a federal government that will be even bigger and less efficient than the lumbering behemoth we have in Washington, D.C., today.

And just as the government regulates and controls the policies of every institution it subsidizes, the government will regulate and control health-care providers.

Politicians will then argue that in order to save money for the middle-class man in Maryland and all the other people around the country forced to pay for his $10,000 surgery, health-care services must be cut and the fees paid to health-care providers must be reduced.

Eventually health care will be rationed, and the incentives for people to go into the health-care industry will be dramatically diminished.

It will be far less attractive for a young man or woman to spend nine years of post-college study and training to become the sort of surgeon that can do the emergency procedure that saves the life of the middle-class college education man in Maryland.

Fifteen years from now, when that middle-class man’s daughter has an emergency, the surgeon won’t be there.  Her problem won’t be that she wakes up owing $10,000 for a life-saving procedure.  Her problem will be that she never wakes up at all.

That is the price America will pay if it lets President Obama move ahead with his scheme to save a middle-class man in Maryland from paying for his own $10,000 emergency surgery.