Revisiting the Ole Health Care Conundrum

When Obama addresses the nation tomorrow night I hope he comes at them in full force without compromise.

We, I hope this isn’t the royal “we,” don’t want to see him crash and burn, ala Hillary Clinton circa 1991,  or fail to see a golden opportunity right in front of him, like Sen. Ted Kennedy.

When expressing the need for real health care reform to skeptics (of which I know few it seems), I like to tell the story about how when my twin boys were born 9 weeks early and had to spend that time getting “well” and growing in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the bill when we checked out of the hospital was $1.5 million. We paid $5 for each child, took them home and never faced a doctor bill from that long, intense stay.

We were the lucky ones. Had we not had a stellar insurance plan through my work we would probably have had to sell all our possessions, move in with a parent, take out a major loan and hope that we would win the Lottery.

When a child is sick and needs care, they should not be denied. On the flip side, if a child is sick and is not denied care, they or their parents should not wind up buried alive in debt.

We are slaves to a system that bleeds us dry. We live unhealthy lives that make us prone to sedentary diseases, like diabetes and heart failure. Yet, we don’t want to go to the doctor because he or she may tell us to lose weight or stop smoking, and that is uncomfortable. So we wait until the situation becomes dire, and we end up in the emergency room—a more expensive and traumatic situation.

Affordable, accessible, quality health care should not be a luxury for the wealthy. Like in most other countries, it is considered a basic human need, like food, clothing and shelter. Why not in this country?

We are at a historical crossroads, now. And, I hope tomorrow we will see a leader come forth and explain a plan that would effect real change, not just shop talk that gets us one baby step closer to change.

When you are standing at the edge of a cliff, with your toes hanging over the edge and a bully running up behind you looking to push you off, do you step aside and let the bully fall off the cliff or do you sustain the blow and try to cling to whatever you have left?


On Health Care, Sarah Palin and Socialism

A New York Times article quoted former Alaska Gov. and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin as saying that Obama’s health-care reform plan is “downright evil.”Palin

There she goes again with her caterwauling about the misdirection and malevolence of policy that would actually help people rather than march them toward a meeting with Satan. This particular mouthful of ignorance she uttered refers to a purported “death panel” American citizens would confront when they became unproductive members of society. This so-called death panel of “bureaucrats” would make a decision on that person’s need for medical coverage.

Now, I’m a firm believer that health care is a basic human right, along the lines of food and shelter.

When people go hungry, we have a call-to-action to send food aid or donate to the local food bank or the government provides food stamps and other aid.

When people go homeless, there are shelters set up or the government comes to their aid, providing financial assistance like Section 8 housing.

But when someone needs medical care and does not have insurance, their only option is going to an emergency room or a rare free clinic, and often it is the last resort. In a country with the best medical facilities and training arguably in the world, why have we, as a society, neglected to provide adequate access to quality health care?

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who also has run for president, has been a vocal proponent of universal health care—that is health care that would be available to everyone,  like the systems in Canada, England, Australia, and most other developed nations. Here’s what Kucinich says:

“The underlying problem is that we treat health care like a market commodity instead of a social service. Health care is targeted not to medical need, but to the ability to pay. Markets are good for many things, but they are not a good way to distribute health care.”

There has been a lot of talk in the media about socialized medicine and that Obama is turning this country into a socialist nation. This is far from true, but even if it were true, would it be so bad? Socialism has gotten a bad rap from proponents of capitalism because it takes direct market competition out of the picture. In some cases, competition in the market is good. But for health care, something that is so basic and necessary for a healthy and productive populace, the market competition has only pushed it out of reach for a growing majority of Americans.

The state of the union cannot continue. It is not sustainable. If Obama’s plan—which I would criticize as not going far enough to control costs and predatory insurance companies—gets shot down because of the crazy spewings of the like of Sarah Palin and her lunatic cohorts like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter, this country is going to be looking down the twin-barrel shotgun with no safety net to catch it after they pull the trigger.

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