I write all day at work. Lucky! you might say. And yeah, it’s the kind of work I’m good at. But it’s not that simple.

You see, I work for a health insurance company, and my job is to write correspondence, all day long, letting doctors and hospitals know why we’re not paying them for treatment–or not paying them as much as they thought we would be.

There are all kinds of reasons for why a medical provider might not get paid. They didn’t jump through the hoops of getting the treatment authorized. They did not sign a contract with us. Our medical experts have reviewed the treatment and deemed it to be experimental.

I can take some slight comfort in the fact that most of the time, when the insurance coverage is denied, the provider is required to write the charges off–so they are not allowed to bill the denied amount to the patient. Still, I’m sure the extra costs are passed on in one form or another.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, just to let you know that I am, in fact, what Sarah Palin and the Tea Party warned you about back when they were screaming about Obamacare. I am the bureaucrat who stands between you and your health care.

Of course, Republicans are strangely silent about people like me. Apparently, the fact that I’m getting paid for my health care denials by a private corporation rather than the government makes them more acceptable. On their end, medical providers have to create entire departments to deal with insurance billing and authorization rules, time and money which isn’t being spent on treating patients. Once again, though, the same conservatives who abhor extra government regulations are very capable of turning a blind eye to those same regulations when they are created in the name of private profit.

The truth is, health care costs will need to be controlled, no matter what the system in place. If we ever do have a single payer system, it will be funded with taxpayer money, and that taxpayer money should be treated with respect. We will still have to determine that the treatment being prescribed is reasonable, and that providers aren’t recommending unnecessary procedures (and by the way, providers trying to charge patients for fraudulent or ineffective treatment is something which happens frequently in our for-profit health care system). Republicans try to paint a scary picture of a single payer system in which you will be restricted from getting the care you want, whereas they claim that in a privatized health care system you have the freedom to choose any doctor and treatment you like. That is simply not true. Sure, you are free to choose any service you like–if you can pay the sky-high uninsured costs for it, which the vast majority of people can’t. You need health insurance to help pay for your care, and when you have insurance, the insurance company restricts what care you can get.

Of course, in our system the very wealthy do have the freedom to pursue whatever kind of medical treatment they want–and travel to get it wherever they like–and these are really the only people the conservatives in Congress care about, anyway.

My fundamental point is that single payer health care is nothing to be scared of. Your health care options are not going to be any more restricted than they are now, and you will be able to get treated for your illness or injury without having to go bankrupt in the process. Not a bad idea at all.

Take it from a health insurance bureaucrat.

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“My Secret Service men are unattractive.  Why can’t I have cute Secret Service men?”

“Please, Melania.  I got enough problems.”

“Oh, Donaaaaaald…”

King Donald sighed.

“It’s so cold today, Donald.”

He hated them.  He hated them bigly.  Not only had the Democrats gained control of Congress, but the very first bill they passed was the cruelest blow of all.  It required that he had to spend at least 80% of his time every year right here in D.C., and so did the rest of the Royal Family.  No more Trump Tower.  No more Mar-a-Lago.  Just the dinky old White House.

There were some misgivings about how much that would limit King Donald’s overseas diplomatic travel, but then everyone remembered that he embarrassed the country that much more when he went on foreign trips.

His first impulse was to shout “Off with their heads!”, but despite his stunning re-election victory, he didn’t quite have the power to do that yet.

“I really don’t like living here.  The decor is so drab.  It’s so…there’s not enough gold.”

Queen Melania was right.  But did those lowly Congress-sheeple appreciate all the work he had done in Florida?  His Palace was going to be the best and the biggest.  Like one of those old French ones, or maybe ancient Roman.  Didn’t matter to them–they kept whining about how staying at the White House was a “national tradition.”  They gave dramatic speeches and quoted that “of the people” bit about the government.  He was totally acting like a ruler of the people!  He could help Americans even better from a Palace!  Why didn’t they understand that?

“It’s time.”  The Queen took his hand stiffly.  “Let’s do this right now.  I want it over with.”

Yeah, there was that–one more little stab at his self-respect.  It was a small amendment inserted into the bill.  It stipulated that he must meet with at least one citizen who had voted for him every day–chosen by random lottery, to ensure he didn’t simply select his wealthiest supporters.

They took the elevator down to the tiny room they had set aside for audiences with their subjects.  The couple was already there, waiting for them.

The woman was very excited.  She had poofy hair and was wearing an ill-fitting business suit.  She grabbed Melania’s arm.  “You’re so beautiful!  I love you so much!”  The Queen wrinkled her nose in distaste.

The man was wearing a baseball hat and a shirt with an eagle on it, and King Donald could swear he was staring at him with suspicion.  He nodded at the King.  “Nice to meet ya,” he drawled.  “Lookin’ forward to you finally buildin’ that wall someday.”

That’s when the break came.  The small, wary eyes of that man–one of his constituents–caused the King to make one of his infamous impulsive decisions.  He couldn’t deal with these people anymore.  He didn’t care how anybody would feel about it.  He didn’t care about the Constitutional amendment he himself had pushed through, removing the term limits on his presidency.

This was urgent.  He would tweet about this first thing tomorrow.  No, today.

He was never running for God Emperor again.

Well, it looks like an extension of unemployment benefits will not be a part of the new budget deal.  Meanwhile, the long-term structural problem with employment in this country–that of jobs getting outsourced overseas–continues.  What are the unemployed to do?

There’s an obvious solution which would warm the cockles of even Paul Ryan’s bleak, Ayn Rand-infused heart.  It’s about time we had a real hunger games.  Except this one would involve only unemployed people.  They’re takers and moochers, so their lives are not worth as much anyway.  And there’s no way that any of the wealthy job creators should be risking their well-being in a competition like this.  We could have a contestant from each sector of employment which has been losing jobs to other countries:  manufacturing, high tech, call centers etc.  Just like in the movie, this would be a reality TV show–thus, getting rid of the jobless and producing a profit at the same time!  The lone survivor could get an extension of his/her unemployment benefits.  Or even better, the winner could be rewarded with a job.  Sure, chances are you would lose your life in the games, but if you’re not willing to do anything to get a job, you’re just not trying hard enough.

If nothing else, this would be a refreshingly honest proposal from Paul Ryan.  But I doubt we’ll ever see such honesty on Capitol Hill.

Feeling frustrated and tired of the healthcare.gov debacle, so taking a little pop culture break.  Here is Lady Gaga demonstrating her new flying dress:

Come to think of it, maybe we could replace Congress with the Haus of Gaga?  Everything which has happened over the past few weeks has felt like a big performance art piece anyway.  This way it could at least be slightly more glamorous.

Seriously.  Because when the Republicans first started this shutdown mess, it was about defunding Obamacare.  Since that wasn’t going to happen, it then became about just delaying Obamacare.  Now it’s not about that anymore either, and most Republicans sound like they aren’t quite sure what it’s about, only that they want to get something out of it.

So before the economy collapses and everything goes to hell, let’s give the Republicans that pony they never got from their parents.  Or a plate of cookies.  A gold star.  One of those participation trophies that says you lost, but you still showed up to the game, so yay!  A kiss on the boo boo to make it better.  An apology from Obama’s election campaign team for being too smart?  More Benghazi hearings, this time with cheerleaders?  Another copy of the President’s birth certificate?

Is there a little holiday present we can give the Republicans to help end this insanity?  I can think of a lot of things, except for what they really want, which is to see the President impeached, tarred and feathered.  That ain’t happening, guys.  Take the pony instead.

As I sit here working away at my desk, I hear your voice shouting in my headphones.  “We need to stop Obamacare…we have to defund it…the American people must be defended…”

Psssst….hey you…health care reform is already here.  Our state exchange website is open, and in the next few days, I will be helping my parents to sign up on it.  My mother, who was previously turned down by insurance companies–not for any serious pre-existing conditions, mind you–only for a single visit to the doctor in her past–she will finally be able to get insurance.  So will my father, who recently found contract employment which does not offer health benefits.  At his age, it is difficult for him to find a job which isn’t contract or temporary.  Some of my friends who were uninsured will also be getting coverage.  If being able to breathe easier about their well-being means that I’m selling out to big government, I’m okay with that.

And here’s another thing–the medical insurance company I work for is already enrolling new members for our exchange plans.  My employers are doing what any normal business would do–competing for customers.  We are expecting tens of thousands of new members.  So what do you think is going to happen now?  Do you think that if you lie on the ground and kick your feet and scream, my company is going to turn around and drop all those people it just signed up?  Or do you think my bosses would prefer to see those premium payments come in?

And yes, this is why I’m still at my desk so late, listening to you.  I’ve been working long hours because of health care reform.  In the real world in which I reside, this law is a done deal.  But I can understand what you’re doing, you over there on the Congress floor.  Hey, I like a bit of good drama just as much as the next person.  And that’s all this is–drama.  Whether it’s being done for votes from your base, or prestige, or whatever else.  All that huffing and puffing of righteous anger is only for show.  And you know that as well as I do.

All day long, I’ve been listening to conservatives accusing Obama of looking weak over Syria.  He has been too indecisive, he has changed his mind…  If only he was a stronger leader, then they might be able to respect him.

Yeah, right.  What complete bullshit.  I can only imagine the hysterical outcry that would be happening right now if Obama had been a Bush-style, more decisive leader on this.  For instance, if he had not consulted Congress over Syria and had just gone in.  We would be hearing discussions all day long about Obama being a dictator and about FEMA camps.  How dare he not consult Congress!  He is trampling on the Constitution yet again!  It would be another one of those days when, if you’re a right-wing radio listener, you retreat to your basement to polish your guns.

One of the dilemmas this President has to deal with is that he cannot appear to be too strong.  He’s already considered a dictator for passing the moderate Republican health care plan.  I’m no fan of military involvement in Syria, but I suppose at least I can be grateful that the President hasn’t been too much of a “decider”.  There is only so much right-wing hysteria I can take.