Posts Tagged ‘healthcare’

An Open Letter To My Congressman

March 24, 2010

Congratulations on the passing of the healthcare bill. For all of its flaws, it’s at least a step in the right direction. But I’ll tell you what. I’m still not satisfied. But fortunately, I’ve recently read about HR 4789, the Public Option Act drafted by Rep. Alan Grayson. It’s the act that will allow any American of any age to buy into Medicare at cost. And I think this sounds like a fantastic bill. And what’s more, I think it’ll do more for healthcare reform in it’s succinct 4 pages than the entire 2000+page bill that just passed due to the competition it’ll create for the insurance corporations. Will you support this bill and do everything you can to get it to the House floor for a vote? And, naturally, vote yes for it?

Healthcare Passed. Yay… but is it enough?

March 24, 2010

Well, it’s done. Hurrah hurrah! Healthcare reform passed and now we can finally enslave conservatives and abort their babies with federal dollars so as to start our Socialist world order. Whew, it’s about time.

But to be fair, that’s not entirely accurate. Healthcare reform did pass, but everything after that is taken from bits and pieces of right wing fear-mongering talking points. So now that we’ve had a good laugh, let’s get real for a bit.

On the whole, I’d say that it’s a good thing this bill passed. People can no longer be turned down for having a pre-existing condition, and anyone who’s considered “at risk” is still able to get some sort of insurance. What’s more, the particular demographic that’s had the hardest time having a health policy (those who aren’t poor enough to have a government policy like Medicaid, and who aren’t rich enough to afford a private policy when their employer doesn’t offer it) will be able to have access to more programs because of subsidies.

And even though this is of less concern to the general public than the actual benefits created, our government spent the last year hammering through this thing. To ultimately end up with absolutely nothing would’ve been shameful at best. And to get even more superficial, for the Democrats to have failed at this attempt to make good on healthcare promises would’ve left them looking like a pile of incompetent fools who’d rather curry favors with the opposition party than to try to enact the will of their constituents (but since we’re being honest here, I think they’ve managed to do both fairly well).

But one of the big problems with this bill is that it’s called ‘reform.’ At best I’d call it a regulatory bill. All those benefits of the bill amount to the government telling private insurance companies that they can’t discriminate against the unhealthy. If you ask me, that’s just common sense. But there’s a reason why so many people for so long have called for reform, if not a complete overhaul, of the healthcare industry in this country: the whole thing is in the hands of a few corporations who make exorbitant amounts of money by paying as little as they can but charging as much as they can. This bill may help a great many people, but it doesn’t tackle the primary problem. The fact still remains that our health is still in the hands of people who will make more money if we die.

That may sound melodramatic or conspiratorial, but it’s really just the basic structure of corporate policy. By law, a corporation must do everything within its means to raise the bottom line. If you take money in on the promise of helping someone once they’re sick, you’ll make more money by finding any crack in the paperwork to pay as little as possible, if anything at all. And this bill actually assists that basic structure. We’re now mandated to have insurance.

A public option was kicked out of the bill a long time ago. If it remained, a mandate for insurance would seem like less of a burden, because there would be more options to choose from. A government run policy that would be nationwide, that you could take with you if you move or change jobs, that isn’t for profit so you wouldn’t have to worry about rates being raised so the CEOs of said corporation can afford their bonuses, is the type of policy that many Americans want. Before last year’s August recess, numerous polls showed that at least 60% of the population wanted a public option. But alas, all things must die.

Wait a minute! Government run policy that’s nationwide that isn’t for profit? Haven’t I heard of that before? More importantly, hasn’t Congressman Alan Grayson heard of that? Oh yeah, it’s called Medicare.

The original talk of a public option was about creating an entirely new entity, that would’ve cost billions of dollars to set up. In the long run, this program would’ve paid for itself and actually decreased the deficit, because people would pay into it. But there would’ve been an initial start up cost that many people were uncomfortable with in this time of economic strife.  But the congressman from Florida, Representative Grayson, has drafted a bill that would allow anyone, of any age, to buy into Medicare at cost. We’ve already spent billions of dollars creating this nationwide network so that people 65 and older have access to healthcare. The groundwork already exists. What Grayson’s bill will do is give every American a chance to have a public option, without any of the extra costs that the original public option would have.

The fact that we have this system in place that can only be used by a small percentage of the population seems incredibly wasteful. And ask any senior citizen out there; they LOVE Medicare. Why not let everyone else have a chance at it? This would be a real reform bill if it passes. Finally there would be some real competition for private insurers, who would be forced to lower costs in order to remain competitive. That is the basis of capitalism, right?

The Times They Are A-Changin’

February 22, 2010

Isn’t it an exciting time to be alive in this country? By this I mean, whether you like it or not, things are changing…

We’ve got national healthcare in our collective consciousness, with heated debates on the manner of its reform, or if it even needs it.

We’ve got GLBT rights activists up front protesting for marriage equality, and with that some very confusing mixed-messages all the way from the President himself on when said rights will be enacted.

We elected the first African-American President.

We’re fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we were originally led to believe that they were one in the same.

There’s climate change, and even though the debate as to whether or not its real has pretty much been wrapped up, a unified solution to this world-wide problem has everyone torn on just what type of sacrifices need to be made.

And to top it all off, we’re experiencing an economic recession that was a baby’s breath away from being a depression, and still could go that way if we’re not careful.

Whew!

All my life, I’ve heard about the type of revolutions that were happening in the ‘60s, how nothing was the same after that. There are endless documentaries on everything cultural that took place; Women’s Lib, Woodstock, the Civil Rights Act, the moon landing. But cultural progression isn’t something that lays stagnant for a generation or two only to launch forward on a given decade; it truly is simply ongoing. But every now and then, we reach a place in history where we find ourselves springing forward, for better or for worse, and afterward we look back in amazement of the times.

I believe we’re living one of those moments right now. And I bet I’m not alone. The real question is then: What comes next? Are things starting to simmer down, or are they just heating up?

I think about the people who experienced the ‘60s sometimes, those who remember where they were when JFK was shot, what they were doing when the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution took place which made our war with Vietnam official. And I wonder what their mindset was on these events? What was their position on theses momentous issues? What their involvement was in shaping that time?

So with that in mind, when we find ourselves, many years from now, looking back at the end of the first decade of the 21st century in the form of a PBS documentary, how exactly will we feel about our contributions when we say to ourselves, “Hey, I was there.”? I personally look forward to regaling grandchildren with my exploits someday. And I look forward to them being proud of me for my role in the times.

It would be presumptuous of me to assume that all my ideas and ideals will be shone upon positively by all in the annals of future history. But being opposed to wars that are documented to have been started for the wrong reasons, and being for the rights of an oppressed segment of the population, I feel fairly confident that I’ll have no need to be embarrassed. If looking back at the ’60s can teach us anything, I believe those are two lessons to not take for granted. So the question is: What do you think your future will hold about the current times?

What’s a Guy Gotta do for Healthcare Reform?

February 19, 2010

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I certainly have a few questions. My head is full of them lately. Like, why does free ice cream taste better than purchased ice cream? Why does it seem that your feet hurt faster from standing around than from walking? And how did something so nonpartisan as one’s health become such a national uproar?

Now, this is mostly my ignorance. The healthcare debate, namely the one involving a single-payer system or something akin to it, has been raging for decades. And in my ignorance, I looked at this bubble of healthcare fanaticism in a confused way, for why would someone take arms against the guarantee of health provisions for the majority?

And from my original ignorance, this is what I’ve gathered: there’s a few select groups in this country who feel that by having universal healthcare we’ll become Socialist or even Communist, as well as groups who by principle don’t like the idea of their tax dollars benefiting others. Now, that might sound harsh, but look around. It’s true.

But I really don’t think that these people intend to be so harsh about it. At least not most of them. I prefer to think the best of people, and when it comes to topics like this, I can’t help but believe that a thorough amount of thought simply hasn’t been put forth. Like the people at the healthcare rallies holding signs that say “Keep your government hands off my Medicare”…there was obviously a lapse in linear thought with that one! But really, with Medicare as a model, can we realistically think the worst possible scenario with a public option in healthcare reform? The same arguments were made back in the ‘60s just before that program was signed into law; Socialism, Communism! But none of that happened. As a matter of fact, if anyone tried to take Medicare away, they’d be booted out of office so fast that we’d forget why we got rid of them.

And really, socialized programs aren’t evil. Think about that next time your house is on fire, or you need the police, or you’re taking a leisurely stroll through a park. Those are your tax dollars at work, providing services to the public that the private sector either feels it can’t profit from (public parks) or is too important to deny to anyone (police protection). I personally have a hard time differentiating the need for a doctor from the need for a fireman when the moment comes.