'Third Man' cited in editorial on health care in Arizona
I am not weighing on the health care debate, just posting a Welles-related link.http://www.azcentral.com/members/Blog/EJMontini/166488Jan Brewer, Orson Welles and 'dots'
Before Gov. Jan Brewer decides if Arizona will assist or ignore 325,000 of our needy brothers and sisters she should watch “The Third Man.”
It’s a 1949 movie in which Orson Welles plays a coldly cynical character named Harry Lime, from whom Brewer and every other politician could learn the difference between human beings and “dots.”
Like all of the nation’s governors, Brewer must decide if she will expand the state’s Medicaid program as part of the Affordable Care Act, which she derisively calls “ObamaCare.”
The expansion would allow an additional 325,000 low-income Arizonans into the program during the first year and be paid almost entirely by the federal government.
Brewer is contemplating whether to go along with it. A number of other Republican governors already have said they won’t.
Brewer may join them. After the Affordable Care Act was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court the governor condemned the decision, saying, “ObamaCare is an overreaching and unaffordable assault on states' rights and individual liberty.” The governor added that the law “must be fully repealed."
That doesn’t sound promising for those 325,000 poor people.
Maybe the governor hasn’t met any of these individuals. Politicians in a heated debate don’t always see sick people as living, breathing human beings, but as statistics. Dots on a page.
Dots they fail to connect.
I’ve made the acquaintance of many “dots” over the years, men and women who have tried to get government officials to see them as human beings and failed.
Individuals like Dianna Brown, whose story I heard and wrote about back in 1987. She died at 43 from liver failure after being unable to get insurance or to get help from the state. She was the guardian of her sister’s two young children and the caretaker for an ailing mother.
And there was Sharon Townsend, who died 10 years ago from leukemia. She worked part time, attended school and was raising a toddler son. She couldn’t afford private insurance and made too much money to qualify for the state’s Medicaid program. She needed a $150,000 bone marrow transplant. Her family tried to raise the cash, but only collected $17,000. As her bank account drained to zero Sharon became eligible for help from the state but it was too late.
''I watched my sister die for no good reason,'' Sharon’s sister Diane Davis told me. ''I don't want any other family to go through that. The system must change.''
Sharon spent the last weeks of her life in a hospital. Her family said the cost to taxpayers exceeded $180,000. Thirty thousand more than it would have cost to save her life.
And there was Susie Weiland, who had breast cancer but couldn't qualify for the state’s Medicaid program until she was bankrupted by medical bills. She didn't want to leave nothing to her daughter, April, so Susie decided to forego treatment.
Less than a year later April told me, "Mom passed away… It was tough at the end, but she managed over the last year to have a lot of fun. As best she could, anyway."
Individuals like this are not statistics, numbers on a page. They are people who might have been saved if health care was available to everyone. In order for that to happen, elected officials must look beyond statistics, party politics and self interest, which is difficult for them to do in an election year.
That’s where “The Third Man” comes in.
Orson Welles’ character Harry Lime sells watered-down drugs in Post-World War II Vienna with no concern for the sick people being harmed.
At one point Lime is confronted by his friend Holly Martins. The two of them are at the top of a giant Ferris wheel. During their argument the camera pans down to the ground, where pedestrians are reduced to tiny specks.
“Have you ever seen any of your victims?” Martins asks Lime.
“You know, I never feel comfortable on these sort of things,” Lime says. “Victims? Don't be melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever?”