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Kadner: Kirk talks about tax cuts due to quality health care

Mark Kirk

Mark Kirk

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Updated: June 11, 2012 9:11AM



U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on Tuesday released a brief videotape of his recovery process from a severe stroke he suffered Jan. 21.

He speaks in a halting voice, thanks his nurses and doctors at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and then sends a message to voters. He hopes to return to the U..S. Senate soon, he said, “to vote to spend less, borrow less and tax less to fix our economy.”

One thing you hope for as a voter is that an elected official will bring his personal experience to bear while representing the public.

Kirk has spent 15 weeks in recovery. The videotape shows him walking on a treadmill, held up by a harness with “silver balls” attached all over his body, recording each movement so that a computerized stick figure can re-create his movements.

At one point someone (a doctor, therapist, or nurse) is shown physically moving Kirk’s left leg as he walks on a treadmill. I’m guessing the rehabilitation process alone has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Since Kirk only recently went home, I think it’s fair to say he has accumulated hundreds of thousands of dollars more in hospital room costs, surgical bills, prescription drugs and nursing care.

As a U.S. senator, Kirk is covered by excellent health insurance. He also can raise money through influential friends and political party members to whom most Americans do not have access if he needs it to pay other medical costs.

And Kirk doesn’t have to worry about his job. Unlike the rest of us, who might be fired if we couldn’t return to work at full capacity, there’s no provision for removing a U.S. senator from office due to ill health.

Kirk’s facing a difficult recovery process. But he’s a lucky guy.

Millions of Americans have no health insurance. No job security.

Millions of other workers would discover that their health insurance didn’t cover the costs of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago when they needed it.

But instead of using his emotional video to talk about that, instead of saying that every one of his constituents deserves the same opportunity to resurrect their lives in a medical emergency, Kirk talks about cutting budgets and taxes.

Is that really the top priority of this country? Is that really what people want?

I would like to know why Kirk hasn’t told his doctors, “You know, this country is facing a dire budget crisis, I don’t want to waste federal tax dollars on my medical care. I want to make a point about what’s really important.”

No. He wants to get well. He wants to get back to work. And he wants the best treatment money can buy.

I don’t blame him.

But I think every American — each housewife, every child, every person who works at a fast-food restaurant — deserves the same thing.

I want Kirk to release an itemized list of his health care bills since the stroke. I want to see if any 401(k)-type self-insurance plan, supported by Republicans, could have financed the Kirk Care Plan.

The arguments against national health care are absurd. One of the more laughable ones is that people would be denied care by government panels.

Even if that were true, what do you think is happening right now? People are denied quality health care every day because they’re not U.S. senators, CEOs or multi-millionaires.

Health insurance companies have their own panels, faceless people accountable to no one, who refuse to pay for treatment.

It’s a “for profit” industry. And the health insurance industry makes billions of dollars.

Good for them, bad for us.

Kirk should explain, in his next video, why health insurance isn’t his top priority. I would like to hear him say that his life is worth more than yours.

I wish Kirk the best. I hope he recovers and walks the 45 steps from the parking lot to the Senate Office Building.

I guess that makes me a liberal because I want that very same thing for anybody who suffers a stroke, not just the rich and powerful.

The vile rhetoric of politicians who oppose health care and denounce pensions, while benefiting from both, is contemptible.

When their lives are on the line, when the lives of their children are at stake, they never ask doctors about the cost. Those lives are more important than money.

Your life isn’t.

It’s that simple. This debate about national health care ought to be about the Kirk Care Plan.

Kirk could make that point to his Republican colleagues now better than anyone else.

That would be a tribute to the medical care he has received and payback to the people who purchased it.



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