The money under the mattress

Backing the party that takes health security and Social Security seriously

I moved to Durango in 2010, with my wife of nearly 40 years, to be near our daughter and her growing family. I “retired” because of health issues that make it increasingly difficult for me to move without severe pain. We live on a tight fixed income and our employer-provided health insurance will end in a few months. Medicare is four years away for us.

What are Republicans offering as an alternative to President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act? To find out, I called Rep. Scott Tipton's office in Washington, D.C. I was told that Tipton approves of most provisions in the Affordable Care Act, but he just can't accept the mandate. Odd, because it was just a few years ago when conservative Republicans themselves suggested the mandate as a way of ensuring that there are no freeloaders in the system.

The alternative, Tipton's office suggested, is that each of us could buy bonds that would somehow pay for our medical needs. Obviously, the youngsters in the congressman's main office have no idea how much investment is required to return $10,000 to $20,000 annually. My medical expenses last year were just less than $20,000. Imagine the result if we had privatized our Social Security and Medicare just before the 2008 recession as George W. Bush urged.

The chatter about privatizing various government programs is alarming. Wall Street would make out like bandits (implication intentional) under all the Republican plans to take Social Security and Medicare private. In contrast, any citizen whose Social Security benefits were privatized in 2006 would have had little or nothing left by 2009.

The Affordable Care Act has already extended insurance coverage to more than 500,000 in five states that have implemented the measure before its official start in 2014. Meanwhile, the Republican plan, apparently, is as simple as the party's view of government in general: Take the money we all have hidden under our mattresses and buy bonds to cover our own health expenses. Problem solved.

I am backing the party that takes my health security and my Social Security seriously. It makes sense to place all American citizens in the same insurance pool, spreading the risk and cost of medical care while making health care available to tens of millions of people for the first time. Savings for businesses, for retirement plans and for drug costs would be immediate. Larry Bollinger is retired from broadcasting and loves his grandsons. Reach him at

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