Generic Freshman

Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT)



My brain.

Late morning.

Generic Freshman, curled in a fetal ball, rolls helplessly over a scattering of term papers.

GENERIC FRESHMAN:  Wah, wah, wah.  Do my research for me.  I’m a digital millennial; “digital” means I know how to text my BFFs and update my Facebook page and that’s about the extent of it.  (She explodes.)

Enter Lieberman.

LIEBERMAN:  (haughtily)  I’m a tool. 

ME:  (in a booming voice from somewhere offstage)  No.  See.  Here’s the thing.  Suppose a power company refuses service to every sixth household on a given street.  If they want electricity, they each have to buy their own generator — from the power company.  Do you:  a) disband the Public Service Commission; b) pull your damn head out your ass?

Lieberman explodes.

ME:  (soliloquizing)  That takes care of his problem.  What about mine?  See, look.  I’m more than happy to pay for regular checkups and tests and cheap generic drugs out of pocket.  I work.  I’m pretty healthy.  I can pay for that, and I ought to.  It’s conducive to cost control.  Those kinds of things shouldn’t even be the purpose of health insurance, any more than auto insurance should cover a regular oil change.  Reasons to pool risk are more like … ohhh, say, Wheel O’ Cancer.  As things stand now, if I could even be admitted to that pool, I would have to live in my car to afford the premiums.  Force me?  I don’t think so.  The liability coverage on my car is sold in a competitive market.  Wheel O’ Cancer coverage is not.  We need to incentivize prevention, but not in a way that completely masks the cost of health care.  Insurance, the risk pool, is part of the cost problem, but every kind of insurance contributes to that — rich-guy fabulous private insurance, ordinary crappy private insurance, Medicare.  We need to be enhancing supply, too, as well as managing demand.  This means malpractice reform, not because it’s a huge cost component — it’s not — but because malpractice premiums herd new doctors into the highest-paying specialties, where we don’t really need them.  Also, expand roles and opportunities and incentives for PAs and NPs.  And crank up RN pay and prestige to keep NP recruiting from depleting the ranks of nurses.  And put these people in community clinics everywhere.  We need our own barefoot doctors, man.  Well.  Sensible shoes are okay.  (Having solved the entire problem for everyone, bows deeply to raucous applause.)