WEST PALM BEACH — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has a strange notion of what constitutes a disaster when it comes to health care.
Florida’s junior senator marked the fourth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, by calling the health care law a “disaster” that needs to be repealed and replaced with “real market-based solutions” to health care insurance.
“You know, anniversaries are usually a happy occasion, but there’s one we’re marking today that is not, the passage of Obamacare in Congress,” Rubio said in a video released last weekend. “Obamacare has gone from something political to something personal.”
But he wasn’t talking about the personal stories of the 442,000 Floridians who have already signed up for Obamacare coverage.
No, Rubio managed to recite a litany of tired talking points for two minutes about this so-called disaster without noting that nearly half a million of his own constituents have chosen the insurance plan. In fact, Florida leads the nation in sign-ups for Obamacare in the federal marketplace despite the never-ending roadblocks that state Republicans have engineered in a concerted effort to scare them away.
Maybe if Rubio weren’t running so hard for president, he might have more time to find a suitable health care disaster in his home state.
Like, for example, the fact that the most common reason for personal bankruptcy is unpaid medical bills generated by our glorious market-based health care system, the one Rubio finds so virtuous.
It would be a refreshing change of pace to hear Rubio’s voice drip with sincerity while talking about the Floridians who are just one ailment away from financial ruin at the hands of a predatory, profit-driven health care system.
And if government doesn’t belong in the health care business, as Rubio seems to argue, instead of griping about Obamacare, which is a private-insurance-based plan, he ought to be railing against purely socialized medicine.
He ought to be telling retirees that their Medicare is a disaster, and then tell veterans that they need to smell the freedom of the private for-profit health care system instead of relying on their government-paid doctors and facilities through the Veterans Administration.
Instead of being so committed to wishful thinking about Obamacare, a program that hundreds of thousands of Floridians have already chosen to join, Rubio might want to heed the words of conservative columnist David Frum, who doesn’t like Obamacare either, but at least has a view grounded in reality, rather than the next Republican presidential primary.
“Obamacare is a fact — a malfunctioning fact, like so much of the rest of the American health care system, yet a fact all the same,” Frum wrote. “Its beneficiaries are rapidly coalescing into a vested interest, as the pharmaceutical companies and hospital insurance corporations and other providers are vested interests.
“Policy cannot realistically be made by dismissing such interests,” Frum continued. “They have gained something they will think is worth protecting. They will have the votes to protect it. If reform is needed, and it is, they will have to be offered something better. Repeal is a fantasy. Reform is the task ahead.”
What’s a disaster is that Florida has a senator who is willing to ignore the health care needs of hundreds of thousands of his own constituents in order to protect his status in a fantasy world.
Frank Cerabino writes for The Palm Beach Post.