We learned to our dismay Tuesday, just at press time, of a misfortune that has befallen state representative Curry Todd (R-Collierville), who is mentioned in this week's cover story as the co-sponsor of last year's pivotal Norris-Todd bill governing city/county school merger. The legislator announced to his colleagues on the House Commerce Committee Tuesday that he has an incurable form of cancer (the exact type he did not elaborate on) that requires oral chemotherapy.
As his involvement with the Norris-Todd bill would indicate, Todd has been a good soldier on behalf of the Republican caucus — something for which we have from time to time taken him to task for, though we have also commended him for some Horatio-at-the-Gate maverick moves, such as his defiance of a Chamber of Commerce bill last year that had the approval of his caucus. Todd branded it as what it was, a labor-bashing measure that sought to impose undue penalties on unions in disputes with management. Acting on his own tack, and no doubt on the basis of his former involvement with the Memphis Police Association, Todd, a former law-enforcement officer, derailed the bill and sent it back to committee when it was near passage at the end of the session.
Ironically, Todd made the revelation of his medical condition while the committee was considering a proposal to require insurance companies to pay for treatments identical to the chemotherapy he requires, and the Republicans on the committee were by and large parroting the party line, one also officially endorsed by Governor Haslam, that to do so would create a bureaucratic governmental "mandate."
This is a case when personal experience makes a better case for an issue than any amount of persuasive and powerful oratory on his part could, and we hope that Todd's colleagues, both Democratic and Republican, take heed of his there-but-for-the-grace-of-God example. There are further ironies involved here. One is local, in that the Memphis Pension Board just this past week included Todd's as one of four disability cases the board considered needful of review. (We trust that Tuesday's news will resolve that issue in his favor.)
A further irony is linked to the simultaneously ongoing consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court of President Obama's 2009 health-care legislation, snarkily referred to as "Obamacare" by the ideologically minded Republicans in Congress. Some two years before it is due to take full effect, the president's legislation has been under attack by the GOP, and conspicuously by the Republicans running for president this year, on account of its prescription of a mandate requiring Americans to purchase health insurance so as to create a health-insurance pool affordable to a mass public. Evidently that provision of the president's bill has drawn the skeptical attention of at least five of the sitting justices — enough to invalidate it if there is a 5-4 rejection of the mandate when the court announces its ruling, tentatively, some time in June.
We would suggest that the justices might have something to learn from the case of Curry Todd and the millions of other Curry Todds who are plagued with unaffordable medical needs. We don't know the representative's mind on "Obamacare," or on the bill in Nashville, for that matter, but we would reckon the issue of medical insurance to be as good an occasion for breaking ranks as we could imagine. We extend best wishes to the Collierville legislator and his family.