Health Care Reform: Build It Now

Health care is a moral and economic imperative.  If we do not have a viable system, our country will become sicker and poorer.

I am an aging Mama whose primary concern is the well-being of my children.  My secondary goal is for a socially and economically just life for all Americans.  Lastly, I am a proponent for peace throughout our world.  I am an old fashioned mother living in modern times, with no hidden agenda for personal power, no desire to bilk the system for my personal gain and no intention of using those with less to better my position.

Thus, my take on the proposed health care reform is honest and not driven by ulterior motives.  With all the wrangling in Congress, it appears that we will get some sort of reform: a weak public option that will take at least five years to develop fully.  At least, I hope, we will enact this general framework now.  I do understand the hesitancy in implementing a full-blown public option at this time because, quite frankly, it is all one huge experiment.  And it SHOULD be an experiment at this point.  We need time and circumstance to explore the reform realities.  Health care is an enormously complicated issue: there are endless combinations and permutations of which we have no idea as to their efficacy.  Also the needs are different in various geographic parts of the country, each individual’s genetic history and available delivery facilities are different and our government does not have an unlimited amount of capital to drive this system.

Yet the refusal by many to acknowledge our need for reform is maddening, and plain out- and- out lies coupled with the surge for corporate and personal profits.  Senator John Thune from South Dakota spoke on the radio yesterday on health care.  What he said, and I paraphrase, is that we should not disrupt our existing system by interfering with effective employer plans which proposed reform would replace with government sponsored plans.  My dear, dumb Senator:  as it stands now, there IS no “system.”  Have you not learned anything?  We have wealthy people paying for Cadillac policies, we have employed citizens receiving good coverage (although often at the expense of forfeiting other benefits such as salary increases), we have people teetering on the verge of not being able to afford their insurance and finally, we have over fifty million Americans uninsured.  This is certainly not a “system”, but rather a hodgepodge of “You’re on your own, Honey.”  Please read the text and view the video of Bill Moyers’ interview with Wendell Potter, a former top executive with Cigna Health Insurance, to fully understand the real motivation behind our current “system”:

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07102009/watch2.html

After watching this program, I was so down-in-the-mouth and disgusted that I just wanted to remove myself from the whole situation.  But what good would that do?  How would that benefit my children’s future?

Furthermore, the practice of our naysayer elected officials to lie about the consequences of health care reform infuriates me.  No, this new program is NOT designed to bring early death to our seniors.  These “deathers” are dealing dirty.  We already have the largest health care system in the world in operation:  Medicare.  Having dealt with two elderly, ill parents for the last ten years, I will tell you here and now that Medicare was a godsend.  Care was never  denied and administratively, it was a piece of cake for the consumer.  My sister, who was the primary caretaker, swears by Medicare.  Our older citizens have been taken care of very well by this government run program.  Where does euthanasia enter into this picture?  It doesn’t.  Similarly, a government sponsored program for all Americans who might want it, would also be a godsend, and fear of socialism is just another lie by the politicians and private insurers who want it all for themselves.  Paul Krugman of the New York Times, wrote (as usual) a fantastic article about this, the fact that Medicare is already in place and functioning well as a government option for medical coverage:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/31/opinion/31krugman.html?_r=1

Can you believe that these same people who say, in one breath, that they want government out of their health management say, in their next breath, that they just adore Medicare?  They make no connection that Medicare IS a government program.  The Republicans’  negative spin is working.  The private sector can not be ruled by greed and abuse, just as the public sector can not fall victim to bureaucracy.  Both are real, but with the proper oversight, they can work well together.  Medicare can attest to that.

We need more and better communication from the Obama administration to inform the public not only on the positive aspects of reform and  also to offset these lies.  Sure, our President is right when he expects health care legislation to come from our Congress; they are our elected officials and ideally, they represent the desires of their constituency.  But it is now time for President Obama to take the bull by the horns and implement his own ideas, educate the American population and get this deal done.  David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the President, dealt with candidate Obama’s waffling on issues during the campaign.  Axelrod basically told Obama that yes, to ensure a large voting base, he needs to be sensitive to what the people want.  However, the prospective President must always be true to himself, his ideals.  That is the same predicament in which President Obama now finds himself.  I hope that Axelrod sets the President straight and encourages him to go after what he believes in, to fight the fight, to inform Americans about the details and then, to present the whole package even with some of the unknowns admitted to, and to deliver this much needed reform.  President Obama has a whole lot more to do to explain this package.  Always remember though, that this man was elected to be our President after a vacuum of leadership invaded our country creating a lost decade.  President Obama was elected based on the people’s demand for change.  This is what he must deliver to us.  Even within the scope of elective politics, he must bridge the dichotomy of elective process versus actual legislation and fight this battle for us.

Our real enemy is the private insurers.  An employer based plan does make sense, but here are some of the major problems with that.  In small businesses, there have been annual premium increases of between 20% to over 30%.  That is not sustainable.  As a result, a higher proportion of the premium must be deducted from the employees’ paychecks.  That is fine; after all, it is important for each consumer to know the real costs of decent health care coverage.  However, these employer based plans are going to succumb to the weight of the constantly growing costs until this “system” implodes on itself.  The  small business itself just may go under  as well.   Additionally, what about the portability of health care?  It is all well and good to have your insurance travel with you from job to job regardless of preexisting conditions,  but I do not yet understand how a private insurer will administer that, all the while pricing a company’s health care costs based on the ever-changing pool of employees that come and go from and to other plans.  Electronic medical records are another disaster waiting to happen.  The only ones who will reap the benefits of this are the insurance companies, having all their policyholders’  info at the tip of their fingers.  Not for a minute do I believe that my records will be kept confidential, whether owing to lack of computer security or the insurer’s sinister history of using one’s health history against that policyholder.  Please see this video.  Admittedly, it is sarcastic and overstated, but nevertheless, it scared the Dickens out of me:

http://www.aclu.org/pizza/images/screen.swf

The worst alternative to the public option (and I have a lot more reading to do on this) is the coop plan suggested by the Blue Dog Democrats and other Conservatives.  These coops would be self-insuring groups.  As I understand it, each person would access the information, which will be a stultifying, crippling impediment, on their computers, slog through all the plans and then make a choice.  Whoa!  Not every American has access to a computer or is well-versed in navigating the web.  Shoot: I go ballistic every time I have to contact my insurance company.  There must be twenty or so recorded menus I must wade through before I can get a live human being on the phone.  With the administration of my medical coverage so adverse to personal contact, I can not imagine the frustration I would experience with that same lack of human assistance in choosing and setting up a plan for me.  Once again, this alternative sounds great in theory but in reality, it is a veritable  “dump” on the people.  The overall effect would be that many people would just give up and decline health care coverage because the process of obtaining it is nothing but a hindrance.  Mission accomplished.  Lastly, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, tort reform must be enacted.  This not only would free up the physicians and hospitals from practicing defensive, unnecessary and excessively expensive medicine, but also would take the legislators out of the lawyers’ pockets.

So my friends, President Obama must be more aggressive in pushing through his program and then communicating to us its benefits, drawbacks and unknowns.  We elected him for his intellect, his common sense,  his honesty, his belief in unification, and most of all for his leadership.  I need him to see this through to a successful finish so my children, and their children, can have a sense of security, justice and a path to better themselves and our world.  He must now demonstrate that leadership and steer our ship to a safe harbor.

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One Response to “Health Care Reform: Build It Now”

  1. Health care -- how do we move forward Says:

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