DailyKos, Obamacare, and Caleb Howe

August 1, 2013 / 12:26 pm • By Dr. Melissa Clouthier


So the Daily Kos kids are being their typical selves: piling on their ideological opposition during a time of trouble to score political points. Caleb Howe, a military veteran, wonderful writer, and friend has been going through some difficult times that have culminated in him being in critical condition in the hospital.

For a lefty who makes everything political, this was the response:

So of course you want to repeal Obamacare. And what the fuck is your apparent “solution”? A tin cup on your website?

He says this as though a tin cup is a bad thing. Charity is a good thing. It comes from people’s hearts. Caleb and his family know they are loved. Every donation (well, most) is a message of goodwill and kindness.

Unlike medicare, medicaid and now Obamacare, charity is less likely to be abused, overused, or overextended. Who wants to exploit their friend’s love? No one. Well, no decent person.

And no decent person would so enjoy the suffering of another person.

Since this has been made into a political discussion, it’s worthwhile to point out that conservatives believe in helping the truly needy. This is what Medicaid was for–not as a catchall insurance program for everyone.

Also, here’s what the hospital will do for Caleb or anyone in a similar situation: they’ll assess his ability to pay and then bill him a small amount each month until they forgive the debt or it’s paid off. I’ve known people who pay $5 a month. Most hospitals were/are have Christian and charitable missions.

That’s America. It’s not a perfect system, to be sure. And improvements to the health care system were needed, but to claim that Obamacare would make Caleb’s situation better and ignore the harm that’s already being done by the legislation, is just willful political exploitation.

Worse, than the political, though, is the personal. The coarsening of our interaction and dehumanization is the biggest loss. Money comes and goes but community bonds and compassion abide. Well, I’d like to think they do, anyway.

Giving a dollar out of spite so you can say something nasty to man who might die and saying it in a place where his wife, children, and extended family will read it, well. What it says about you trumps any political point you hoped to make.


Those raising money for Caleb are almost to $25,000. Please help if you can: Go Fund Me.

On a personal note, Caleb’s girls are dancers and quite good and that’s expensive. Having a dad who can’t work means losing opportunities. These donations will help them pursue their dreams while their dad gets well.

Wishing Caleb and his family wholeness and healing.

  • A Type 1 Diabetic

    Hi Melissa. I’m sure you are getting lots of comments here since your blog post has made the front page of Reddit. I’m guessing you’ll probably continue to get messages from people saying all kinds of things to you, and I’m sorry if people are rude or say things that are offensive. Clearly your post is about a friend you care for, and you posted it because people do need a hand sometimes from friends and family. Charity is a wonderful thing.

    I am also a young adult who has also struggled with illness. I was born with Type 1 Diabetes (also known as Juvenile Diabetes). It wasn’t something I caused myself, from say, being overweight or eating a bad diet. 95% of all people with diabetes have Type 2. Less than 5% of us diabetics were born with it. Unfortunately my body doesn’t make insulin, pure and simple. Nothing I can do to change that.

    I’ve been hospitalized many times with complications because of my diabetes. I’ve had hospital bills upwards of $300,000+ for one single visit. I’ve been in a coma, in the ICU, all kinds of things. And I have always worked, my entire life. I’ve never been without a job, even while putting myself through college at a prestigious and very expensive university.

    Prior to Obamacare, an insurance company could totally deny me coverage just because I’m a Type 1 diabetic. This seems almost the reverse of what should be covered, because people with Type 2 diabetes can loose weight, eat healthy, and in many cases, reverse their Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 is not reversible. I workout daily, run marathons, eat healthy, and still I need to take insulin shots. And I will for my entire life.

    Now I have my own business. I pay for my own insurance. It’s $2,000 a month, for just me. These huge insurance premiums aren’t because I have some amazingly wonderful insurance plan or anything, its because people like your friend who is uninsured don’t pay their bills. Or they pay $5 a month. Hospitals and doctors have to charge so much because of people like your friend. And that is the truth.

    I too give to many charities. I am blessed to be able to give. I also volunteer with my local police department. I work with homeless children too. But think about this, would you feel the same way if you were writing about a young single black mother without insurance, who took her sick baby to the emergency room, then asked to pay only $5 a month back to the hospital? What about an uninsured Latino young man who washes dishes at your local Applebee’s, maybe he has an accident and needs to spend months in the hospital and rehab? Would you feel the same about those people, not paying back their hospital bills?

    I’ve been very blessed to be able to travel to other countries. I’ve spent a lot of time in Japan, where people live to be the very oldest in the whole world. The Japanese too have charities and give very generously (remember the big earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011?) They also have health insurance through their government. Everyone does. People there live long lives, have preventative care, are not overweight, they exercise, and take care of each other. But they don’t have to worry about going broke and loosing their homes if they get sick. They don’t have to worry about not being able to feed their families if they are extremely ill. Their government helps them. It’s a service, just like police or fire. Healthcare is a service provided by their government.

    No country on earth is perfect. And I pray your friend fully recovers to raise his daughters. But please learn a little about what Obamacare really is. It is critical for someone like me, so I can have insurance, even if it is $2000 a month. I believe in a free market, but I also believe the government should provide services for its people. This is what we pay taxes for. Yes our government could be improved. Any government in the world could be improved. But learn a little more yourself before lumping everything into one big pile and calling it bad because it’s “liberal” or from a democratic president.

    Do you know what else used to be considered a liberal, left-wing idea? The belief that white people and non-whites (including Latinos) should be able to get married to each other. Many states in the US outlawed marriage between whites and non-whites, even up through the 1960s. Doesn’t that seem crazy to us today? Think how people will look back on Americans not having healthcare in the future.

    We are all Americans. If only we lived in a perfect world… But we don’t, and the best we can do is make it fair for people, to have a chance at a successful life in the US. Medical bills are the #1 reason people in the US file bankruptcy or loose their homes. The government has to help people. Please learn a little more.

  • Doug

    Breaking a leg in this country can cost $50,000 for the uninsured. It does not cost that much for the insurance companies or medicare. They pay a fraction of that. People like you justifying more immorality. The Republican party used to not be like this. It is a real shame.

  • matt

    A. Ericson is a cheap cupcake for not giving his employees insurance.

    B. Hospitals don’t “forgive” debts; the rest of us with insurance will have to pay more.

    C. I am sure people who donated did so to help with medical costs not dance classes.

  • Someone

    “Unlike medicare, medicaid and now Obamacare, charity is less likely to be abused, overused, or overextended. Who wants to exploit their friend’s love? No one. Well, no decent person.

    And no decent person would so enjoy the suffering of another person.”

    This state operates under the notion that most people are decent… unfortunately, that proves time and time again that this is not true.

  • Kimberly Morgan

    I can’t get over this. Isn’t this kinda like the people who put donation jars for cancer in convenience stores, then take a nice vacation on the proceeds? Begging for donations because you’re uninsured and got a bad diagnosis is one thing, but then spending the donations on dance lessons, while intending to not pay the hospital and doctor bills, is despicable. I really can’t wait for them to start getting the collections calls from their “Christian hospital” and their hired collectors. This will help them fully understand the reality that so many people have to live with. And even if the hospital IS “Christian,” there’s no guarantee that all of the individual providers are… and they have collectors, too.

    PS: I hope this blog post comes into evidence at any bankruptcy trial. The fact that they’re cavalierly spending thousands of dollars of donated money while stating that they plan to pay $5 a month or whatever until the sun goes nova and vaporizes the planet while expecting their providers to eat the costs of their treatment really should get them harsh scrutiny from a bankruptcy judge. There are people who are really doing everything they can to pay medical bills, then there are people like this.

  • The Jerk

    I hope his liver rots out of his ass and his family is stuck with the medical bills. The man is preying on the kindness and charity of others just to he can double-dip by sticking them with higher premiums. Screw him, this predator deserves neither charity nor good will, and I hope the pitchforks come out once word spreads that he plans on skipping out on the tab.

  • The Jerk

    You mean the same Daily Kos that helped raise the funds that Caleb plans on misappropriating for children’s dance lessons? Yeah, what a bunch of jerks, right?

  • CrankyQuaker

    I really and truly hope that your dad gets better. My family and I are praying for you and your family.
    After enough time has passed, you might look back on some previous ideas (and mistakes) and learn from them.
    Warm wishes to you and your family.

  • Chris Gauthier

    I was sad to hear of his illness, and look forward to his recovery. I am glad to see that so many, on both sides of the aisle, have chipped in to help.

    What I take issue with, though, is this suggestion that the solution to not having insurance should be to rack up tens of thousands of dollars in bills, then pay next to nothing each month with the expectation that eventually the debt will be forgiven. That “solution” is only going to result in everyone else paying for this care, by way of increased costs for everyone. I’m a little surprised to see conservatives, who spend so much time railing against welfare, suggesting that bilking the hospital is a viable health care solution.

  • chino_k

    Another conservative moocher. There is no limit to conservative stupidity is there. Thank god for karma.

  • Frank

    You make so many assumptions. For the same reason it is wrong to rob someone it is wrong to force your kind of medicine on me/the rest of us. I think that medical accounts would be the best solution. Just because a thief is better off after taking their money from someone else doesn’t mean it was a good thing, even if the person that was robbed could afford it.
    The main problem with socialism, that in the beginning it is nice not to have to worry about bills, etc. but eventually, when people don’t have to produce to survive they wont, especially when they think they are working harder than everyone else.
    The next problem is that when someone else is spending your money they don’t really care how it is spent or even know what the true cost is. This is also a problem with private insurance. If I am paying a premium I want to make sure I can get whatever I can.
    There is a reason why people die or get much worse off while waiting for healthcare in Brittain or Canada.

  • Frank

    Are you saying the kids should not get dance lessons? Do you understand economics? If al my money is going towards medical bills, then the kids don’t get extracurricular anything.

  • ceddy45742

    Look at the statistics and polls for Canada. Your statement is false. Scare tactics drummed up by The Koch bros.and their ilk. As far as the best solution being medical accounts, I disagree due to the inability of a whole lot of folks to even put food on the table. Taking the profit out of selling health insurance would be a start.

  • ceddy45742

    I’m saying I’d rather donate to the people who can’t afford to buy shoes for their kids to go to school in, than someone worried about dance lessons who are willing to let the Gov’t pick up the tab for medical.

  • Jessica

    Wow! How can someone be so cruel?

  • Jessica

    Daily Kos bringing you down? I thought that was how you stole ( I mean raised) over 25,000?

  • Vince Fl

    I noticed you slammed DKos, but the diarist made a plea for donations and said to put politics aside for his family. Daily Kos readers donated hundreds if not thousands if you read through that site because the diarist said it was the “Christian” thing to do…. Noticed you failed to mention that in your diatribe