Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Insanity Of US Health Care

Okay, let's get this straight. There are approximately 43 to 90 million people in the United States that do not have health insurance. About 25 million are underinsured. Our country spends more on health care per person than any other on the planet, yet underperforms consistently relative to other countries and differs most notably in the fact that Americans have no universal health insurance coverage, according to the Commonwealth Fund. In fact, The US ranked last in most areas, including access to health care, patient safety, timeliness of care, efficiency and equity. Americans were also last in terms of whether they had a regular physician. Since the late 1990’s, health care spending has increased at a faster rate of growth than has gross domestic product, inflation, and population. In the latest year data was available (2003), total national spending on health care rose to $1.67 trillion, or $5,670 per person. According to the World Health Organization (done in the year 2000. They no longer provide this service due to the complexity involved, but there is certainly no indication that anything in the United States has changed for the better since then) the United States ranked 37th in the world for best health care systems, right between Costa Rica and Slovenia (Ireland, I'm proud to say, ranked 19th). France is ranked number 1, Great Britain 18th, and our Canadian neighbors 30th. Chile has a better health care system than we do. The Washington Post reports that the US spends $1.00 in every $6.00 on health care, while still not providing universal coverage for all. More than 70% of Americans want some type of public option that will provide competition for the privatized medical insurance industry to bring rapidly escalating costs under control
Yet according to our Republican friends in Congress and the media everything is just hunky dory. According to Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Rielly, Beck, and other right wing psychopaths, the United States has the very best health care system in the world, and insist that it should be left alone, that no health care crisis exists, and that the President's plans to reform the health care system are nothing more than a socialist plot to enslave the nation. They offer no evidence for their constant blathering to their brain dead audience, still they don't require simple things such as facts or evidence... they have scare tactics, that's what has worked in the past, and that's their tool of choice now.
Republican Congressmen and women at least admit there is a problem with the system. Millions are left out of it, and costs are too high. Yet they offer no alternative solutions, no plan of their own. They just don't want Obama's plan, for purely political reasons while millions of Americans languish, and die under the current system, which provides billions of dollars for the heath care, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries, which, wow, guess what, uses that money to lobby, and provide campaign contributions to the very lawmakers who are intrusted to provide national health care policy, Democrats and Republican alike.
The Senate Finance Committee, led by Chairman, Democratic Senator Max Baucus, has effectively left single payer (universal) health care off the table. The American public has overwhelmingly expressed support for universal, or single payer health care, such as is in effect in those countries mentioned above that have been ranked with better health care systems than our own, France, Great Britain, and Canada. The Republicans cry out that this would be government controlled (socialist. So what? I've never seen so many people so scared of a word) health care, placing bureaucrats between patients and their doctors, they complain of monumental costs, and the destruction of private insurance. All of these scare tactics have proven to be false (1. We already enjoy single payer health care, government run, with medicare and the Veteran's Administration and I've heard no one complain about the quality of service of these institutions (there certainly are some problems, but none comparable to having private insurance for our vets and older citizens) 2. Republicans don't mention the already existing beauracracy of private health insurance officials denying service to their members for pre-exhisting conditions, and other reasons, in order to cut their operating costs. Remember, private insurance is in business to make money, and they do that by denying service, not providing it. 3. They never mention the gigantic costs of maintaining the current system as mentioned above), but remember these are the Republicans, who don't use facts or reality in their calculations. Let me be clear. The private health insurance company's, the pharmaceutical industry, and private health providers will stop at nothing to stop health care reform legislation at any cost, as they know their profits will plummet if they are forced to compete in the market place with government backed service. The Republican Party is the party of big business, and are the lackies of invested corporations, and will move to stop or delay any attempts of the current administration to reform health care as it would cut into their master's profits, and for purely ideological reasons, as they're currently against anything President Obama has put forth, just because he put it forth, even though they provide no alternative, and their actions are contrary to the interests of the American public and their own constituencies. The money put forth by the current health care industry to lawmakers either through lobbying efforts, or campaign contributions, extends to Democrats as well. It is no coincidence that Senator Baucas has shelved the option of single payer insurance for the countries millions of uninsured, and his being the largest beneficiary of campaign contribution largesse, to the tune of 1.5 million in 2007 and 2008. In other words he's been bought and paid for, at the expense of the tax payers who pay his salary, and who he should be looking out for, rather than multi-billion dollar corporations that want to keep things just the way they are.
Have I mentioned that this country is insane?
The President has stated that the time for health care reform is now. He wants legislation, with some kind of public option (single payer has indeed been taken off the bargaining table, but this would still provide competition for the private insurance industry unless they manipulate thelegislature to their advantage) legislation on his desk by the time Congress goes on vacation next month. The Republicans of course want to scrap any reform, or delay it. Fortunately, it doesn't matter what the Republicans want, because the Democrats own both houses of Congress. They have the votes to pass a reform bill without the Republicans.
All we need is for those conservative Democrats in Congress to get on board.
I suggest to them that they put the nation and its citizens who have been denied health services for decades before the interests of those who would maintain the status quo and do nothing at all. The attempt to reform the US health care system has been ongoing for more than 50 years. Now is our chance to finally do it.

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