I've decided to pre-empt my second August SharePost on respite care with a review of the health care debate. My question of the Week about a single payer system could've been posted too soon as it failed to generate as much of a response as my other Questions have. The bills that have been introduced in the House and Senate do not offer single payer options. Town Hall meetings devolve into angry outbursts based on false assumptions about the bills, neither of which involves socialized medicine. Let's look more closely at what's actually going on.
According to a news professional, "In the past 10 years, the profits generated by the health insurance industry skyrocketed a whopping 428 percent while 19 percent of the insured were dropped due to their ‘undesirability', age, or ‘pre-existing' conditions." The insurance industry has created smoke-and-mirrors controversy that fails to tell these outraged citizens that there are high costs associated with the current system. People may like their insurance just fine and not want to pay extra to insure people who don't have insurance now. Yet that is exactly what we do when the uninsured go to emergency rooms. The hospitals shift the cost to insurance companies who in turn raise their premiums.
The bonuses paid out to Wall Street executives who use the money to buy yachts nobody bats an eyelash over so why are Americans suddenly fueled on hate about the health care options Obama is willing to endorse? Instead of giving CEOs hundreds of thousands a year that money could be spent guaranteeing that all Americans have health insurance.
We need cost-effective, best-practices treatment across the board. I like that term "across the board" because it relates here: The Obama Plan would allow 15,000,000 people to be uninsured. That is a legitimate drawback of the public option.
Now I'll run down some of the false claims:
People will lose their current insurance.
Private insurance will remain legal and those who already bought their insurance before the House bill went into effect would have their insurance grandfathered in. Any new plans would have to be purchased through a new health insurance exchange yet even here the exchange would offer private plans as well as a new federal health insurance option.
You can read HR 3200, known as America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, at http://thomas.loc.gov by typing in HR 3200 in the Search Bill Summary & Status box and then clicking the bill number button. It has eight co-sponsors; one of whom is a New York City representative, Charles Rangel. The bill prohibits denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition. Section 102 protects the choice to keep current coverage.
Medicare benefits will be slashed or health care will be rationed and government will determine coverage.
Not true. There will be no death squad or mandated coverage or loss of coverage. Obama has outlined cost-saving measures that will curtail the deficit in the coming years yet none involve jeopardizing our health.
One thing: Why should we privately or our public health system pay $50 for a box of tissues labeled a "mucus-control device" on our hospital bill? Most hospital bills are laden with charges for services not rendered or other charges that aren't valid. A whole industry of medical billing advocates has sprouted up to help patients tasked with trying to figure out their bills and reduce the exorbitant fees.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee bill has not yet been released in its entirety.
OK: I'm going to go out on a limb and say that perhaps most of us are still 20,000 leagues under this sea of information and can barely keep afloat in the current environment where it seems ordinary citizens are being tested on our ability to "sink or swim." You may not be convinced that in the end any plan signed into law will do you any good. As you decide where you stand on this, remember that you can always drop your elected officials a line. Log on to www.senate.gov and use the tool bar on the upper right of that website to locate your Senator. Log on to www.house.gov and use the tool bar on the upper left of this website to locate your Congressperson. They welcome e-mail petitions as well as postal mail letters.
Nota bene: I do not care whether you agree with me that a public option is viable. I want only that you speak your mind. I want to hear from you about this issue because I'm willing to write a letter to my elected officials as a journalist and a member of this community.
For all we know this debate could be a reverse psychology technique to quash any kind of health care reform. Skeptics believe the insurance industry has a hand in fueling the backlash, yet what if the bills being drafted on the Hill offer some real promise? The alternative is that 47 million people currently do not have health insurance in America.
Why does the House bill have so few co-sponsors? Perhaps insurance carriers are justifiably quaking in their boots.
Lastly, the idea that people who make more money in the work force deserve a better standard of care and a tax-free ride on a stretcher steams me too. People who are paid only $30K a year work just as hard as stockbrokers. In researching this topic I read such arrogant comments posted in response to a New York Times article on how exactly to pay for the public system [the debate focused on raising taxes].
Let's face it: I doubt any of us are in a position to be taxed unjustly so that other people can have health insurance. Some of our community members don't even have insurance at all. Some of us with schizophrenia want to work at minimum wage jobs to feel good about ourselves and we have to nix the job when we get it because we risk losing the government health insurance we do have.
I've talked with other people following the debate and they agree the time is now to institute a public plan before health care costs bankrupt the U.S. That is where we are headed without reform. To borrow from President Obama's quote big business won't get to buy every chair at the table. His intentions are pure: to remove the glass wall the rest of us stand behind and give us our turn.
Published On: August 16, 2009