Category Archives: Health Care

Open letter to CNN

I have been reading the comments on your blogs, and it appears to me that a lot of sane people want universal health care, or at least Obama’s public option while a lot if insane people oppose that. For example, ref your blog post at http://newsroom.blogs.cnn.com/2009/07/19/5007/.
I don’t see how CNN in all of its programming can fail to report that most of the objection to the public option, government health care, or Obama’s plan — whatever you want to call it — is illiterate or hateful, and most of the people who want it are presenting good sound arguments with true numbers and issues, and nobody at CNN is saying anything about that difference.
Instead, you put up an iReport challenge that asks if I have a friend of a different political bent and can I send in a video of how we get along. Excuse me? We need people to pay attention, not just give 3 minutes to this side and 3 to that one and fluff it off.
Doesn’t CNN have someone who can at least read the comments and compare and contrast the opinions? Do we have to believe that one opinion is as good as another when one is supported by facts and concern and the other is just misconception and hate? What are we supposed to do as a nation when the conversation is reduced to simple-minded disagreement at the level where the ideas come together for reporting? If the public option fails, CNN will be much to blame for not truthfully reporting the opinion that comes in to them and giving perspective on the debate.
Some interested intelligent people need to be weighing in right now on this issue, because a good idea is in danger of falling to ignorance and bigotry and hate. If it does, the lives of many people will fall right along with it. People who have a forum need to speak out.
– Sarah

Doctors speak in support of health care reform

Business and the Public Option

Opposition to the public option in health care is an economic mistake. Private insurance costs too much, limits and denies services, and insures only healthy people. Employers and employees carry an intolerable cost with no limits, growing at twice or three times the rate of the economy. Half of all bankruptcies are because of medical costs. Under the current system, if you lose your job between 50 and 65 years of age, employers won?t hire you because older workers on the payroll increase their medical plan costs. If you are laid off at 50, you will most likely be underemployed or unemployed and without insurance until you reach 65 and qualify for government-funded Medicare. The cost of private health care to individuals is being widely discussed, and by now only people who are willfully illiterate can fail to know that the public option would be better for individuals. If you don?t know this, read something.
On the business side, the staggering cost of health care to companies diminishes our ability to compete in the world economy. Whatever business you are running, from a college to a barbershop, a person in any other developed nation can do better for less money and make more profit, because their government picks up the tab for employee health care. Sure, taxes are a bit higher, but with taxes as in other areas you get what you pay for. The employer cost of private health care is the second highest cost after employee salaries for most American businesses. Employers pay this because until now government, influenced by obligation to corporate donors to campaigns, has refused to pick up the responsibility for insuring the health of the American workforce. The public option that is on the table now is a true stimulus package for American businesses. It is a mistake for business to feel kinship with medical insurance companies because they are ?businesses.? They have no product that contributes to or enhances your product or makes you operate better or more efficiently. Their relationship to other businesses is not contributory, but parasitic.

Promoting the public option

To all people 18-65 whose health insurance is too expensive and/or inadequate:
The government already is the largest single payer of health insurance?just in the worst possible way. Taxpayers pay for all high-risk people through Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP. In the low-risk group (age18-65), government employees have government-subsidized policies. Military personnel have government health care. These groups include more than half, and by some counts, a good two-thirds of Americans.
Taxpayers eventually pay for the uninsured. We pay emergency room costs for neglected illness that could have been treated earlier in less expensive ways. Also, Medicare costs more for people coming in at age 65 from the uninsured population than for those who had health insurance. The higher cost persists for several years as a group statistic, and for individuals it the higher cost may last a lifetime. Taxpayers pick up this extra cost of Medicare that is a delayed effect of working-age people not having health care.
Working people age 18 to 65 employed in private business and industry, self-employed, or whose work is interrupted (seasonal, lay-offs, etc.) are the demographic with the lowest statistical risk of serious illness. Most of us in this category do not have adequate health care. Either we have nothing, or we have “health insurance,” that does all of the bad things our reluctant government-insured representatives in Washington say that single-payer health care will do: it limits choice and controls access. Plus it costs us, sometimes literally, an arm and a leg.
The only demographic not currently supported by the taxpayer is relatively strong, healthy, independent people age 18 to 65. People in this group have been tossed to the insurance companies so that they can wring out profits. This abandonment is literally a gift to corporate interests made by politicians who serve the companies, not the people.
Adding the 18-65 low-risk group to the government health care pool will even out and ultimately lower health care costs across the board. We know this because it is the principle by which private insurance decides who is profitable to insure and who they will deny.
We need health care, not health insurance.
Health care is a right, not a privilege.
Working Americans should be calling their representatives and senators, telling them we are sick of health insurance and we want health care. And tell them they need to quit selling us to corporate interests.

R.I.P.

So Prevention magazine sends me this unsolicited e-mail with the subject line “Sleep Well — Forever.” Yep, I am going to rush out and buy that issue.

Affordable Health Care

I have been a member of AARP since 1995, although it is doubtful that I will ever be able to retire. Today I received e-mail from them asking for my signature on a petition to my representatives asking for accountability on health care. Then of course they asked for a contribution of money to support the effort. Here is a copy of my letter to AARP on the occasion:

I signed the petition to tell my representatives that I would use my vote to require accountability on the issues.
I will contribute money to the effort when we are demanding universal government-funded medical care and prescription drugs. We do not, after all, have other essential services ruled by the free market. Our fire departments are not free market. Our police are not free market.
Our government is being run by outlaws, bullies, and rip-off artists. We have no statesmen in the halls of power, and we have nobody who understands “government by the people and for the people.”
The integrity of government is a health issue. Our whole society is suffering from stress-related illness. Nothing our government does (I am talking about Bush and Cheney and the courts they have stacked and the legislators they have bought and intimidated) inspires a healthy, confident outlook on life.
We have no leaders to point out to our children as role models. Our kids from Kindergarten to college are stressed out by high stakes achievement goals, and they cheat at sports and on tests at a level unimaginable only a decade ago. Our professional sports image is continually tarnished by athletes taking unfair (illegal) advantage and using wealth to escape justice. It is our best brains in the academic classroom who are cheating now, because they can’t afford to risk making less than that golden “A.” They cheat to get the perfect GPA so they can get into the best colleges, often aided by teachers. Teachers cheat and permit cheating because student test scores affect the teacher’s own job security and the funding of schools. The same process continues in college, and our government plans to institutionalize it by expanding the NCLB fiasco to cover colleges also. Values education won’t do a whole lot to correct the situation when the system, from top to bottom, requires cheating and looks the other way because winning — achievement, success — is rewarded and it’s acceptance is modeled at the highest levels of government.
Reagan was wrong about wealth. It doesn’t trickle down. But the idea that you can lie, cheat, and steal to get ahead, that you can exploit people’s fears, disregard the laws, and line your pockets and those of your cronies with ill-gotten gains does trickle down. We are drowning in it.
It is the task of organizations like AARP to inform constituents and educate people to understand the issues. Instead, you have joined the rip-off by offering a “competitive” health care plan.
It is people over 50 who should know that the free market doesn’t serve values or people. It is the well-regulated marketplace that serves these ends. The voice of AARP is compromised in speaking this obvious truth by its market participation.
The members are still here, needing health care with the same desperation with which we would need firemen if our house were burning. We are here with lost hopes of retirement because employers let us go just a few short months before we became vested, because they could and because it improved their bottom line.

Of course, so long as we have a president who can veto a health care bill for children because, hey, “poor kids first.” what are we really talking about?

Sicko

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