The response was overwhelming to the article I published earlier this week criticizing the people who have been protesting the Obama administration’s health care proposals by disrupting town hall meetings, etc. (Click Here)
Using uncharacteristically harsh and personal language I even called them “cowards” and asked where were they when the government was throwing trillions of dollars in bailout money at the crooks responsible for the financial meltdown.
Well, I got an earful. About half the people who wrote to me agreed with what I was saying, including readers from Canada and Australia which have publicly-funded health care systems that seem to work. The other half did not, vociferously so. I got told to move to Russia (I don’t plan to), cursed at, and lectured about the evils of socialized medicine.
It was a learning process. It’s clear that the lobbyists for the insurance and pharmaceutical companies, along with media outlets like Fox News, are indeed out to protect the profits of those who get rich off what is likely the most expensive and inefficient health care system in the world.
But it is also clear that as the Obama administration’s proposal evolves, it will not even come close to solving the problem. As pointed out, for instance, by Dr. David Himmelstein of Harvard Medical School,
“For someone my age who is making $40,000 a year you are required to lay out $5,000 for an insurance premium for coverage that covers nothing until you have spent $2,000 out of pocket. You are $7,000 out of pocket before you have any coverage at all. For most people that means you are already bankrupt before you have insurance.” (From “This Isn’t Reform, It’s Robbery” by Chris Hedges at https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/this-isn%E2%80%99t-reform-it%E2%80%99s-robbery-by-chris-hedges/.)
The so-called “public option,” whereby the government would cover those most needing assistance, seems to be falling by the wayside as the legislation moves through Congress. Even this was a poor substitute for a single-payer plan that the majority of Americans seem to prefer but who are being ignored by the politicians on the health care industry payroll. On the other hand, we already have two single-payer systems—Medicare and Medicaid—where costs and red tape are totally out of control.
So I want to say to my readers, “Protest!” If this is the line in the sand where you finally get fed up with a government that is broken, so be it. Please be sure, though, you are trying to put something positive in the place of what is broken. In this case, we should consider some type of single-payer plan like those every other civilized nation in the world enjoys. Or maybe single-payer for catastrophic illness combined with a much leaner and competitive system for less serious health problems. (See “How American Health Care Killed My Father” by David Goldhill at http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14904.)
I also had pointed out to me the fact that we would be a lot healthier if we took better care of ourselves, improved our diet, got more exercise, and handled stress better. Then we would get sick less and not have such a need for medical intervention. I completely agree.
I also agree that our health care system is so obsessed with prescribing medication that prevention is usually ignored. Also, the financial crisis has made millions of people ill through stress as their livelihoods have been damaged or destroyed through the recession. So if the government would meet its responsibilities in encouraging a functioning economy, that would help too.
And I apologize for calling some people “cowards.” I should never personalize my commentaries like that. We are all people trying to do our best under circumstances that are, well—trying. Thanks for reading, and thanks for writing.
Copyright 2009 by Richard C. Cook.
Richard C. Cook is author of We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform. His website is at http://www.richardccook.com/. He will be speaking at the annual conference of the American Monetary Institute in Chicago September 24-27, 2009. Register for the conference at http://www.monetary.org/2009conference.html
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