As published in the Longmont Times-Call on August 11, 2011:
Mayor Bryan Baum is a kidney cancer survivor. I am a lung cancer survivor. We have cancer in common. We also are passionate about healthcare. But we differ sharply on how and who should insure that care. Baum’s comments at the August 2nd council meeting suggested that his insurer was a PPO. He stressed the immediacy of his treatments and advocated for this type of program. I agree with him that insurance company “gatekeepers” should not be deciding when, where, who or how treatment is delivered. It costs lives. And it becomes very personal when that life is yours. I also understand why many choose HMOs. Often they are cheaper, although not always. Restrictive healthcare is preferable to no healthcare.
However, it was disturbing to hear Mayor Baum and his acolyte at Public Invited to be Heard “advocate” for consumerism in healthcare. Stunningly, Baum suggested that higher deductibles and larger co-pays would motivate people, and City of Longmont employees in particular, to be more “responsible” users of healthcare. Healthcare is not furniture or clothing and is not driven by the same “market” forces. Maximizing profit has no place in healthcare delivery. It inevitably leads to healthcare delay, and even worse healthcare denial.
Mayor Baum ‘s thinking – or more precisely, his political ideology – is one of the primary reasons why he should not be re-elected as Longmont’s mayor. Repeatedly his ideology has driven his votes. It’s a religion to him. It’s faith-based. Not fact-based. The Tea Party Republican ideology that drives him is fundamentally hostile toward human needs and human rights. Baum talks a good game when it comes to serving people. And he may mean it. However, his actions belie his rhetoric. And as all of us were taught, correctly, as children, actions speak much louder than words.