Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Health Care Scare

President Barack Obama is defending his initiative to overhaul America’s health care policies this week. He defends his plan from not only Republicans but the so-described ‘blue dog Democrats’ in Congress who are known for being fiscally conservative (or they represent socially conservative districts and they squeaked by in the last election). On the Today Show, the President explained his views further- http://tinyurl.com/l7n3nc

obama,president

"We can't afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care,"- President Obama, at Children's National Medical Center, 2009.

Instituting a national health care plan is important for me because I believe that in the wealthiest country in the world, no one should have to suffer from the lack of health care. It is virtually unconscionable that as of 2009, the United States still does not have a comprehensive national health care plan. In this regard we lag behind Canada, the United Kingdom, India, and several other nations. Seniors and children are among the most vulnerable population who are affected by having either no health coverage or an inefficient plan. Far too many working adults put off seeing doctors or having important medical procedures done because of the prohibitively high costs incurred, and the comparatively minimal benefits from their current health care insurance plan.

“If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”- South Carolina Senator Jim Demint.

governor mark sanford
South Carolina governor Mark Sanford

Even after being busted with his side chick from Argentina, I wonder if South Carolina governor Mark Sanford intends to hold on to his job if only because he knows he’s got a cushy health care plan (I can hear some of his supporters now- ‘stop badgering that man, he’s a Christian!’). Anyway, his salary is just over $106,000 a year; the state employee insurance plan can be found here- http://www.eip.sc.gov/index.aspx. At the risk of being presumptuous, my layman’s point-of-view would classify the good governor and his senatorial confederates (pun intended) as ‘haves’. Those who are our poorest citizens tend to be affected the most regularly by being a ‘have-not’, though everyone is affected by this.

senior medical care

Housing, food and transportation are already major expenditures for most American households. Many seniors and the middle-aged have to declare bankruptcy due in great part to health-care debt (http://tinyurl.com/pm79ol). Younger adults are saddled with debts that inevitably affect their credit rating- affecting the results of trying to rent an apartment, buy a house, get a business loan, or lease a car. The heavy debt that goes along with such things as hospital visits tends to make people ambivalent about seeking proper medical care for themselves.

dental visit

My own health care coverage (through my job) is ‘okay’, as in, better than nothing but hardly all-encompassing. Let’s not forget about dental care, typically considered separate policy coverage altogether, which may have similarly daunting costs incurred. I have been affected by this myself, as high health-care debt makes me recurrently anxious about physician visits. I suspect that I’ve needed braces on my teeth for years, but I can’t afford the steep co-pays. I also remember being ultimately sued by a medical equipment supplier, relating to a doctor’s prescription that they lost and my insurance carrier’s subsequent balking at covering any costs (Appearing at Michigan’s 36th District Court, parties representing the equipment company failed to appear—twice—but they apparently had deep pockets for appeals, which is how yours endearingly finally got zapped in the end. But I suppose judicial system loopholes are a rant for another day.)

A national health care plan should also be looked at as an opportunity to redefine the ‘war on drugs’. Look at California (http://tinyurl.com/n96847): If marijuana alone were legalized across the board, taxed and regulated, it could also become a source of tax revenue. It could partially subsidize the national plan. Social conservatives may blanch, but decades ago, well-meaning but short-sighed teetotalers wielded their influence to give America the 18th Amendment. Alcoholic beverages were rendered illegal. Lasting from 1919 to 1933, those years padded the coffers of assorted gangsters and the like before the law was repealed. Going back even further, American-grown tobacco was—and is—a major cash crop, especially when slave labor was supporting it (whoops, sorry to bring that up, the Senate finally apologized this year.) Both of these substances have since been regulated and taxed.

The national health care plan must be bold enough to include basic health care coverage for all, regardless of race, gender, age, income or national origin. Money can be raised for the plan by raising taxes on well-to-do corporations, cutting back on certain federal spending earmarks (such as two prohibitively costly foreign wars- http://zfacts.com/p/447.html. http://zfacts.com/p/272.html ), and more. As the woes of Chrysler and General Motors came to a head during this past year, one of the prominent issues that both executives and rank-and-file workers had was the status of health care coverage for employees. A national health care plan could arguably take much of the burden away from both big-time companies and smaller firms alike in terms of having a baseline alternative to coverage.

doctor's office visit

The old ways of thinking about health care must be cast aside. Reactionary obstructionism must be overcome with logic and facts. Proponents must point out that the current status quo on health care is no longer sustainable. We must cast aside such politically negative and emotionally misleading terms like ‘socialist’ or ‘welfare’ when talking about a national health care plan. We need to evolve and embrace the 21st century and be a true leader in the developed world on this issue. Nothing less is acceptable.

“All I can say is, this is absolutely important to me, but this is not as important to me as it is to the people who don't have health care.”- President Obama

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