A Republican U.S. Senator proposed a “Jimmy Kimmel” test for whether a U.S. healthcare plan is acceptable, and now (surprise!) Jimmy Kimmel is finding the latest Republican plan doesn’t meet it. Since we have now made a late-night talk show host an arbiter of health care, I guess we have to talk about Kimmel’s rant against Graham-Cassidy last night. I’m going to skip ahead to the unfunny sketch that supposedly illustrates the problem with Graham-Cassidy.
The “joke” of the sketch, for those who don’t want to sit through a painful two minutes of preachy and unfunny nonsense, is that Jimmy orders a black coffee. The barista pours it into a cup with no bottom, and the coffee goes all over the table. The barista explains that the cup decides whether it holds coffee or not. Hilarious, right? Graham-Cassidy: roasted!
To me, the irony here lies in these lines near the end of the sketch:
KIMMEL: You know what? I’ll just go to another coffee place. Thank you.
BARISTA: This is how all coffee shops are now. If you want your coffee in a cup, go to Canada.
Kimmel’s proposed solution is what we normally do when we are unsatisfied with a product or service: we go elsewhere. But Kimmel and his lefty pals are on a road away from choice, and towards exactly the sort of inadequate one-size-fits-nobody (except for the politically influential) service that government is so famous for.
This, by the way, is why I respectfully dissent from the views of some (like Joe Cunningham) that it is important that we pass Graham-Cassidy. Meh. I don’t think it matters at all. The only health care system that could work is one that depends on actual choice, which is only possible in a free market. But clearly Americans — and consequently their representatives — aren’t up for the sort of solutions that this would require. (I have discussed free-market alternatives for health care before –for example, here). Whether we tinker with a losing situation in this way or that way, in my view, matters little.
As I have said before, I think Rand Paul should be commended for standing against such tinkering. To whose who say: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” I respond: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the chance to take joint responsibility for a socialistic program that will ruin 1/6 of the economy.” Or: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the concession that this tiny meaningless improvement to the status quo is the best we’ll ever do.”
Getting back to Kimmel’s sketch: the notion that Canada is the ideal is also laughable. The conservative rag The Huffington Post in June published a piece titled Why Canadians Are Increasingly Seeking Medical Treatment Abroad:
While Americans have been crossing the border for years in search of cheaper medications, it turns out there are a growing number of Canadians seeking medical treatment south of their border, raiding their bank accounts and choosing to pay for treatment instead of being treated through their nationalized health care system. In 2014, more than 50,000 Canadians left the country for medical treatment, a 25 percent increase from the previous year. A similar number left the country for treatment in 2015.
Why would someone pay for something they are entitled to receive for free?
According to The National Post, the answer comes down to a choice between time and money ― a choice that’s only available to those privileged enough to be able to finance expensive out-of-pocket medical expenses up front.
If we had a “Barista Theater” sketch about this, Jimmy would order a coffee today, and the barista would say: “Absolutely, sir! I’ll have that ready for you in a month!”
The only answer is free choice. Kimmel’s sketch implicitly recognizes this, but doesn’t face the implications of that fact. In that way, Jimmy Kimmel is like the rest of America — which knows it wants a better system, but has been lied to about how to achieve that.
I’m done banging my head against the wall. I’m like the guy who sees the car crash coming and is powerless to stop it. The best I can do is gear up for helping the victims. But the crash is happening.