Best wishes to Rush Limbaugh after his recent heart scare in Hawaii. I have been through the same thing and it is definitely not fun. I will always root for his good health, as I can identify with his weight struggles (and as someone who would wilt without the “inspiration” his material provides).

He made a point to note how good his care was whilst in Hawaii, and how it demonstrated that there was nothing wrong with the health care system in the United States. I was glad to hear that. Many like myself have long distinguished between the people (doctors, nurses, technical support) in the system, and the system itself. Mr. Limbaugh was very pleased with the nurses in Hawaii, and felt the system worked fine.

So where is the Haw-irony? Hawaii has the highest percentage of nurses in the United States organized by labor unions. In fact, the nurses at the hospital that Limbaugh was treated at are “union thugs” (his label for union members). Large chunks of the health care bill will not affect Hawaii as the state already mandates employers must provide insurance to employees working 20 hours per week or more. Medicare costs per beneficiary are the lowest in the nation, and the state’s average insurance premiums are tied with North Dakota for the national low.

Non-profit health care providers dominate the state’s marketplace and are free to innovate. Kaiser Permanente, which has a 20% share, screens 85% of the women between 42 and 69 for breast cancer. Is it any wonder that Hawaii’s citizens have the longest life expectancy in the nation? The state is having budget troubles (like most states), and recently canceled its 2007 initiative (signed by a Republican governor) to provide universal children’s coverage. The biggest reason cited for that failure was that most kids already had coverage.

So Mr. Limbaugh is correct when he implies that politicians could learn from Hawaii. Aggressive Medicare reform, a focus on non-profit care, and near-universal care are definitely the way to go for our nation.

Paging Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Rush Limbaugh, your copy of the health care bill is ready for READING.

The rational middle says aloha….