Depraved Health Reform

I know that I include a lot of reading from other sources on this website, but the teacher in me always wants to educate.  Plus, many other writers speak to the issues so much better than I do.  In that same vein, this weekend’s assignment will be  heavy.  And then, if you do your required reading first, I promise you a fun-filled post on the wonders, relevance and memories of summer camp.

Today’s showcase article is by Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post.  The title is “Republicans Propagating Falsehoods in Attacks on Health-Care Reform”:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/06/AR2009080603854.html?sub=AR

There are a few specifics, among many,  that I want to point out in this article.  First, Pearlstein starts out by saying that the issues of the day are SO important that he, like myself, will bring to bear the personal motives of the people with whom he disagrees.  This tack is similar to my ridiculing of Sarah Palin as a deterrent to her EVER becoming one of our future Presidents.  Better safe than sorry:

As a columnist who regularly dishes out sharp criticism, I try not to question the motives of people with whom I don’t agree. Today, I’m going to step over that line.

Pearlstein also calls the GOP “political terrorists”.  This is an apt moniker for the members of that party who really do place elitism, class distinction, personal ambition,  political revenge and most of all, bucks in their coffers,  above the cause for the betterment of the people.  Their placement of “shills” at the town hall meetings to instigate and incite citizens on such made-up issues as “socialized medicine” and  “euthanasia” is the lowest tactic of all.  Definitely depraved, but not surprising.  It is the “big lie”: scare the people silly and they will believe almost anything.

Please read the entire article, as it fully explains the rancorous opposition with which we are faced.  Finally, Pearlstein’s last paragraph is perfect:

Health reform is a test of whether this country can function once again as a civil society — whether we can trust ourselves to embrace the big, important changes that require everyone to give up something in order to make everyone better off. Republican leaders are eager to see us fail that test. We need to show them that no matter how many lies they tell or how many scare tactics they concoct, Americans will come together and get this done.

Pearlstein correctly makes the leap from the issue of health care reform to the possible corollary of the collapse of our society-at-large.

The second article I will cite is by Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post.  Despite his conservative and anti-Obama stance, he often is quite perceptive in his writing.  Here is today’s piece:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/06/AR2009080602933.html

While Krauthammer is so correct in his premise that true health care reform can happen only if it accompanied by tort reform and a revamping of employers’ responsibility for providing coverage, he and I disagree on the solutions.  Contrary to Krauthammer’s opinion, of course we need a public option to ensure that the private insurers offer and deliver to their policyholders what they promised.  I would even take this public option one step further: require our legislators to subscribe to the public option, thus giving that program a better chance of staying honest and sensitive to their policyholders’ needs.  Additionally, Krauthammer is not truthful when he says that the GOP does not want the status quo.  Of course they do.  They are the “Party of No” and their overriding goal is to have the Obama administration fail.  Period.

The final article that you must read is the cover story in Business Week, written by Chad Terhune and Keith Epstein.  Their premise is that the insurance companies have “already won”:

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_33/b4143034820260.htm?chan=magazine+channel_top+stories

Among the  factors affecting  the proposed reform, such as political motives, tort reform, costs  and tax policy, the final nail in the coffin is our corrupt medical insurance industry.  Certainly after you read my post of yesterday, “The Sick Status Quo”, and viewed the horrible tactics of UnitedHealth Care, this Business Week article will not significantly shock you.  One would think that the the likes of our Cignas, Aetnas, Blues and of course, UnitedHeath Care, would be on the side of the angels.  After all, even after acknowledging the fact that we are a capitalist  nation, surely the health care insurance industry would have some regard for the products that they sell, which are oftentimes the deciding factor between living and dying.  But not so.  Once again, I am incensed that the profit statistics of these companies track almost identically  the increase in premiums.  All the variables falling in between the premiums paid and profits taken, like the actual health care, seem to be immaterial; the business that these companies sell, the actual delivery of services and coverage,  is merely a footnote for these companies.  Is it no wonder that our health care system is deceitful, crooked and weighted to reward the industry at large and the executives at hand?  Also, when the insurance companies deny payment on often, already delivered life-saving treatment by calling the service “experimental”, “cosmetic” or just the all-encompassing “unnecessary”, the ripple effect could eventually tear apart our economy and social structure.  Is it fair that the hospitals, physicians and pharmacies that have already delivered these services not get reimbursed based on the retroactive whim of the insurance carrier?  In the end, these health care providers are the ones who really pay the price of the insurance industry’s greed and dishonesty.  So the insurers get to keep their premiums while the costs of delivered treatment are borne by the providers.  No wonder the insurers reap 30% profits.  Quite a racket.

For our politicians to assume that what we have is good enough is a blatant lie.  Also, don’t think for a minute that it is only  the Republicans who are wrong in their status quo premise.  The Blue Dog Democrats are just as at fault.  Statistics show that the funds they receive from the health care lobby are significantly higher than the amount other Democrats take in from that same source.   What, with lining their pockets and PACS with money from the trial lawyers association and the private insurers, their intentions are no more admirable than their GOP rivals.

So my comrades in cahoots, an overhaul in our health care industry is a must.  The reform must include —-  even if it is only experimental in nature and an overall framework rather than a detailed plan —a public option, tort reform, a shift from financially crippling employer based plans to independent pools of risk, and a recognition by ALL INVOLVED PARTIES, i.e. the consumer, the health care provider  and the insurance company,  of the costs versus the benefits, expectations versus the realities, that things will have to change across the board.  All of us will need to accept change, to alter our wants, to ante up and pay a reasonable amount for our health coverage, to sacrifice the past for the future,  so that we can eliminate the ugly status quo.

Steven Pearlstien was prescient in his appraisal of the first necessary requirement for reform: accepting that our current system is dead in the water.  Until we all come together to make the necessary changes, the chance of total inundation is very much alive.

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