Community Columns

A dialogue about proposed health insurance legislation

Fourteen billion dollars, hey, that's a lot of money.

Sure is, and just for health care.

No, I was talking about the state deficit. You mean there's both a $14 billion deficit and a $14 billion health care bill?

Yep, that's it; but not really a problem, you see, because the Muscle Man is going to both not raise taxes, cut spending and raise taxes.

Wait a minute. You said he's going to not raise taxes and raise taxes.

Both. It's really simple; he's going to tax hospitals to cut medical costs.

Taxing hospitals lowers costs? How come?

Easy, after you tax them you give it back to them.

Hey, why not just let them have it in the first place?

Well, we need to cover administrative costs of taxing them; besides, there will be more revenue. See, he's going to tax cigarettes $1.75 a pack.

Oh, my, I have nightmares of Mafia trucks waiting at the border -- I mean smuggling from Nevada, black market, all that.

No problem. We'll just stop them at the border -- you know, got any oranges, apples, bananas, mosquitoes, cigarettes? Besides, he can still tax workers, 2 percent for small employers and 6½ percent for big ones. But really, 6½ percent is pretty close to not raising taxes. Anyway, everyone, and I mean everyone down to the latest illegal arrival, will have to have insurance.

Just like car insurance?

Yeah, mandatory car insurance works real good.

What happens if someone says, "No way, I'm not going to pay"?

Easy, and here's the beauty; you see, Muscle Man will release 22,000 prisoners and make the prison guards unhappy. So there's room to arrest 22,000 citizens who refuse to be insured, and this will replace those released -- and everyone's happy.

Another thing, he says he's going to raise Medi-Cal payments under the health plan, but his budget has Medi-Cal cuts; how come?

No problem, on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays they'll pay the higher rates and lower rates other days. Yes, they're closed Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

No budget worries because the muscle man has a friend in the White House who'll give $5 billion.

Buddy, you are wrong here; the muscle man just sued the prez over dirty air. What's he gonna say, "Hey, Prez, you stupid jerk, we want clean air; and, by the way, can you give me $5 billion for health care?"

Maybe Dianne, Barbara and Nancy can help us out with the prez.

Not Barbara, because this is what it's all about.

About Boxer? How so?

Well, the muscle man is going to be termed out, so what's he to do, go back to movies? Naw, he's going to the Senate and because we're a blue state with a lot of pinko left wingers, he has to do the impossible -- go to the left of Barbara -- so you see, it's not about health care, it's about Muscle Man in the Senate.

Ah, now I understand. For a while I thought it was about health care and financial responsibility. Silly me.

Allen, a semiretired Modesto physician, has served as a visiting editor on The Bee's editorial board. E-mail him at