How low can they go? One of Obama's youngest lobbyists -- 11-year-old Marcelas Owens of Washington State -- traveled to D.C. on Tuesday on the dime of astroturf group HCAN (Health Care for America Now). His 27-year-old mother, Tiffany, died of pulmonary hypertension. According to the family, Ms. Owens -- a single mother of three -- lost her job as a fast-food manager and lost her insurance. She received emergency care and treatment throughout her illness, but died in 2007.
Young Marcelas -- goaded by his left-wing activist grandmother and promoted by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray -- is now a regular on the pro-Obamacare circuit and is leading a congressional sit-in until the Democratic plan passes. He admits he doesn't understand the complexities of health insurance reform and doesn't "think it's anyone's fault" that his mom passed away. "But they could have done more" for her, he says.
It's a heart-wrenching story, but the tale raises more questions than it answers. Washington State offers a plethora of existing government assistance programs to laid-off and unemployed workers like Marcelas' mom. Why didn't she enroll? Second, she died nine months after she reportedly lost her health insurance. By the time she lost her coverage through her employer, she was apparently already in dire health straits. It's not clear that additional doctors' visits in the subsequent months would have prevented her death.
All that said, the Owens' case demonstrates the flaws of the employer-based system of health insurance. It needs real reform. Unfortunately, the current crop of Democratic plans would leave the employer-based system fully intact. What we need are grownups to start over from scratch and leave the kids on the playground.
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