My Medicare card arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago. I’ve joined the ranks of the federally insured. Medicare claims to serve 50 million recipients—now 50 million one. But turn on the news; Social Security and Medicare systems are going broke. What will America do? Northern California’s writing team, Bette Golden Lamb and J.J. Lamb, give readers a chilling solution to the problem in The Killing Vote, a near-future political thriller set in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Killing Vote opens with the intentional bombing of the offices of CORPS, the Coalition of Older and Retired Persons. A volunteer, is severely injured. Meanwhile, retired journalist and current political blogger, Ted Yost, is on his way to meet CORPS head, Nathan Sorkin to talk about the D.C. rumor that there may be a move to scuttle Medicare—or at least significantly cut its funding. But Sorkin is convinced Hygea, the health insurance giant is behind the bombing and convinces Yost to investigate.
The story is told from each of the characters involved on Hygea’s Galen Hospital ethics committee to introduce and push the bill through Congress: the lobbyist, W. Wade Wilson, the Washington officials, and the team working to stop the vote. The bill will save Medicare billions. Why keep old, poor patients alive when they have no hope of recovery and no one to go home to. Galen Hospital has already selected the first two patients to be euthanized, one the volunteer injured at CORPS.
As Yost’s team closes in on the conspiracy, bill stakeholders start making bolder moves, even kidnapping Yost’s wife. A senator is blackmailed to attach the bill to one she is presenting in the final session before the winter break. It’s going to be rubber-stamped into law. As time runs out, each character reveals his or her true feelings as the horror of this proposed bill comes to light. Things start going wrong and the major stakeholder turns to desperate measures. I don’t want to spoil anyone’s enjoyment of the book, so let me say that I locked all the doors and turned on all the lights in the house then stayed up all night reading.
I don’t know if it’s because that little red, white and blue Medicare card with my name on it has me feeling old and powerless, but The Killing Vote really frightened me. The language and voices are believable. The characters could be folks I know. Hygea/Galen Hospital’s procedures to develop and introduce a bill to save Medicare billions are straight out of the corporate boardroom, and the dirty Washington politics are in the news everyday. In fact, with the Presidential debates, Medicare is a hot topic. “First of all, I’m not for phasing out Medicare,” A republican presidential hopeful told NBC Nightly News anchor, Lester Holt after a debate in August. “I said that we needed to reform it so that it exists for people who are anticipating getting it later on, and then I laid out exactly what that would look like.” Sounds reasonable and far-sighted, doesn’t it? But read The Killing Vote—you’ll get the true picture.