Cantor’s support for health care options

CANTOR’S SUPPORT FOR HEALTH CARE OPTIONS…. At a forum this week, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) heard from a constituent about a serious health care dilemma. Her question was sad but common, and Cantor’s response was illustrative.

The constituent noted that she has a close relative in her early 40s. She had a lucrative career and great insurance, right up until she recently lost her job. A couple of weeks ago, she was diagnosed with stomach tumors and needs an operation soon, but she’s no longer covered.

Cantot encouraged her to look to “existing government programs,” or perhaps “charitable organizations.” He added, “No one in this country, given who we are, should be sitting without an option to be addressed.”

That’s worded rather awkwardly, but it’s a sentiment I can agree with. Americans who need care should have “options.” There should be “government programs” to provide coverage to those who don’t have it.

The problem, which Cantor fails to appreciate, is that he and his colleagues are opposed both to giving Americans “options” and creating “government programs.” If he meant what he said, Cantor wouldn’t be leading the charge against health care reform.

Indeed, the follow-up question is obvious: what is Eric Cantor doing to help provide “options” and strengthen “government programs” for those Americans who need help?

As for relying on charities and the kindness of strangers to save those facing life-threatening illnesses, what Cantor may not realize is that these charities, through no fault of their own, necessarily have to ration care and force patients to endure long wait times — there are fewer resources than patients.

In other words, Cantor’s warnings about the perils of a reformed system are already a reality.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.