Universal Healthcare, now!

19 Aug

Sabotaging universal healthcare reform is enabling the tyranny of a broken system. Conservatives and their Libertarian pets have menaced the public square as fear mongers that would have made Goebbels blush. What’s scarier than their imagined totalitarianism is that 46 to 50 million Americans are uninsured and for many of us it is (or will soon be) truly life and death. For example on Sunday’s PBS’ show NOW, Debbie Froberg of Las Vegas, NV stated: “I should have been in Chemotherapy 2 weeks after my operation, it has been four months and I am just taking my chances….I’m doing exactly what our town is noted for: I’m gambling with my life”. It is self-evident that anything less than a direct government, thus public, role in healthcare is unacceptable.

Nevertheless, on August 17th National Public Radio released a story on the Obama administration’s flexibility on the Public Option in order to secure a “win”. President Obama reduced the Public Option’s importance last weekend at a town hall in Colorado by saying that “This is just one sliver of it…One aspect of it”. The fear of “government takeover of healthcare” generated by opponents like local Congressman Chris Lee (R-NY 26) who according to Opensecrets.org received industry campaign contributions ($5000 in 2008 from Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America) cannot alter the reality of our tragic situation; they have only sought to intimidate us away from reformation of the system, in addition to creating a racist, ignorant and or violent childish display. The only goal is to make you tune out, surrender any high ambitions, and maintain their profits.

According to administration officials, the alternative that the administration hopes the centrists will agree with to give the Democrats a legislative victory is non-for-profit independent healthcare cooperatives. The proposal of non-for-profit healthcare cooperatives ignores the fact healthcare’s alienation from public standards and accountability has allowed the insurance industry to exploit its customers and also, self-regulate its services outside the public eye. I believe the term, “bait and switch”, should suffice.

Private competition is not the goal for our western cousins, who get a much better deal with direct government intervention. In England or France’s national health program (second biggest spender, 11% of its 2007 GDP, OCED health statistics 2008) coverage is universal, preventative, and patient centered. In a defense of the UK system, Professor Stephen Hawking said, “I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the N.H.S.” (The Guardian, 8/11/09).

On Sunday, former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean called the public option, “the entirety of health care reform.”  Mr. Dean also correctly stated that “we shouldn’t spend $60 billion a year subsidizing the insurance industry.” would you pay for a service that doesn’t work, and is fundamentally & institutionally fraudulent?

President Obama’s original plan provides robust public option for the uninsured, a national healthcare exchange (no more disparate state monopolies), elimination of pre-existing conditions, decreased administrative costs; and moreover, it won’t alter present insurance plans, provided that in the case of a serious illness insurers cannot revoke your insurance.

The public option must stay, or let’s go further: Universal Single Payer Coverage. According to Physicians for a National Health Program, Taxes paid for 60% of national health insurance in 1999 alone. At this moment the government expenditure for healthcare is 2.5 trillion in 2008 according to the U.S. department of Health and Human services. That could cover everyone, while reducing the deficit by its savings. To disagree with Congressman Waxman’s (D-CA) on Democracy Now, this is not a radical change; it is necessary and proper.

Enough is enough. Healthcare must be a reality in the United States. The necessity of revolutionizing healthcare is an act of social justice. In the spirit of Fannie Lou Hammer’s civil rights struggle at the 1963 DNC, perhaps we’re finally, “so sick and tired, of being so sick and tired”.

Published in Artvoice- http://artvoice.com/issues/v8n34/letters/universal_healthcare_now

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