(oil on canvas, 40 ins. x 30 ins.)
Artist’s Note (2012)
The making of this painting was filmed for ZDF German television (The 2012 video link no longer works). A ZDF crew set up in my studio to film me painting President Obama's and presidential candidate Mitt Romney's portraits for a show ZDF did about the 2012 US elections. ZDF bought the paintings. The portraits hang in the Georgetown ZDF office, Washington DC.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY, Republican Presidential Candidate 2012 (written in 2012 with some updated links and links that no longer work in 2021.)
Who is this former governor who wants to be president?
When the Republicans were trading barbs during the primary season in the spring of 2012, I tuned out. "Put up your guy and then we'll talk about healthcare," was my feeling.
What can I say? The Republicans gave us a candidate who gave Massachusetts a law called An Act Providing Access to Affordable, Quality, Accountable Health Care a.k.a. Romneycare during his term as governor. The healthcare reform law was passed and signed by Governor Romney in 2006. Romney and his advisors designed the eponymous law with the goal of providing health insurance to nearly all Commonwealth of Massachusetts residents.
On the campaign trail as a presidential candidate, Romney disavows himself from this accomplishment by saying that states’ rights trump federal power that would impose a national program on a state. Yet, in 2007, Gov. Romney told a reporter in Baltimore that he was proud of what he had done, "It will be a model for the nation. “
From where I sit as one who intimately delves into the lives of individuals trying to access healthcare, I ask if the problem of being uninsured is any different in California than in Massachusetts? Is an uninsured handyman's untreated leg ulcer noticed by his customer who happens to be a doctor, different from state to state? When a sixty year old uninsured sole proprietor marries a good friend for his health insurance so she can get treatment for cancer, I ask, "How is lack of access to healthcare a states' rights issue?"
When citizens' access to healthcare is denied by a for-profit health insurance industry that calls medical claims a liability on the companies' balance sheets, we have to ask, "When does the question move from liability to human right?"
How can we expect the US to rise to the level of greatness this country exclaims so often when almost 50 million of its citizens are uninsured and 32 million are under-insured, meaning they have out-of-pocket expenses that often bury them financially.
Is there a way to quantify the fear and stress under which Americans live? "Can I get health insurance?" "What if I get sick? The cost of my insurance will go too high." "What if I lose my job and lose my insurance?"
The former governor, when asked in a television interview, pointed to emergency rooms as a viable way for the uninsured to access healthcare. "If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care."
Comprehensive treatments are not required when patients have neither insurance nor money, Emergency rooms are only required to stabilize those who walk through their doors, not see to their long-term medical needs. A discharged patient no longer facing acute deterioration or imminent death can also mean a serious medical condition may be left unaddressed. The patient may end up right back in the ER when the underlying medical problem presents again.
And let's not forget that the uninsured ER patients are billed for whatever services are rendered. When those hospital bills are not paid, the patient is saddled with unpaid medical debt.
I believe Gov. Romney knows all this. So what's the deal with the governor coming out against the Affordable Care Act, a law modeled after the one he championed as Massachusetts governor?
Is Romney's goal to win or lead? On healthcare and the presidency, his goal appears to be to win. A leader would stand on his past successes. Gov. Romney has abandoned the reforms he put in place in Massachusetts, a state that now boasts a 98% insured rate.
I believe Gov. Romney is in search of a reason to distance himself from his own healthcare law. Why? The prize is the presidency, and he can't win it without the votes from the far right conservative party. The Republican extreme turn has driven out moderates, wishes to turn this country into a theocracy, and, is handing over power to a minority of plutocrats.
So who is this former governor who wants to be president?