House intern faints, Obama's health plan to the rescue

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President Obama’s health care plan is so fabulous that it may be helping people get better already –  even though it has yet to be enacted into law.

That appears to be the opinion of Rep. Henry Waxman (D) of California, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in any case.

Representative Waxman was presiding over a hearing on overhauling the nation’s health system Thursday when a young female intern fainted and hit her head in falling to the ground. Witness Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius immediately stopped speaking, and several lawmakers who are also physicians rushed to the unfortunate young woman’s aid.

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After a few minutes, the woman walked from the room in the care of emergency responders from the Capitol staff. She appeared shaken but not seriously injured.

Upon resuming the hearing, Waxman said that everyone was “distressed” about the incident. The prospect of the president’s health reform legislation hopefully would not slow her recovery, said Waxman.

“Maybe the hope of it will spur her on,” he said. Nice recovery on his part – he is one of the people who will be most responsible for the bill’s fate, after all.

Waxman was probably joking but his inflection typically is so flat it was hard to tell.

As the hearing progressed strange verbalisms continued. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R) of New York, asked Secretary Sebelius about those single-payer health systems they have in Europe – the ones run and funded entirely by the government, that “rationalize” health care.

As a member of the GOP, Representative Whitfield is not in favor of government-run health. Presumably he meant “ration” instead of “rationalize,” since rationalizing health sounds like a good thing to the average voter.

Later, when it was the turn of Rep. Michael Burgess (R) of Texas to speak, he got Sebelius’ attention by saying “I’m sitting over here in the broom closet behind the kids’ table, where they keep me on this committee.

His delivery was much better than the chairman’s and so he got a ripple of real laughter. He was referring to the fact that he is a Republican – and thus a minority on a panel run by an iron-fisted chairman – and also relatively junior, meaning he gets to ask questions after most everyone else has already had a turn.

Representative Burgess then went on to ask a detailed query about the prospective bill’s treatment of tax-deferred health savings accounts. Nobody knew the answer.

“You’ve asked a serious question,” said Waxman. He and Sebelius promised to get back to him.

Maybe they’ll move him up to the adult table, too.

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