09 September 2009

Universal Healthcare - Part II

I have never been so disgruntled with a political party – and a president – I once believed in. Congress now wants to penalize (fine) Americans up to $3800 for not having health insurance.

I can barely afford the health insurance I have now. The insurance companies are evil incarnate – raising premiums without any corresponding increase in benefits. They seed the so-called town hall meetings with (biased) insurance-company employees who shout down folks with real concerns about quality of care. Nothing would make me happier than if every health insurance company in America went out of business tomorrow.

The cost of health care skyrockets every year. A physician neighbor estimates that only 25% of healthcare spending actually goes to treating patients – the rest is overhead, insurance company profits (and lobbyists), drug company profits, and Congressional salaries.

So now, if one day soon I really can’t afford health insurance any more, the government will fine (tax) me for not being able to afford it!? I feel so sorry for the folks who truly have no choice – those who don’t have jobs, who really have no money for insurance, and who are now getting squeezed by government/corporate greed.

I’ve long felt that the disparity of wealth in this country is our single greatest problem. The “financial crisis” has illustrated this to the extreme, with million-dollar, non-performance bonuses, executive-salary greed, and politicians in the pockets of industry.

I used to believe – I tried to believe – that the Republicans were the evil ones and Democrats the party of the everyday people. But with many Democrats abandoning the “public option” of healthcare reform they have shown their true colors. They are absolutely no different than any other rich, greed-loving, self-serving politicians.

Every citizen deserves a few things from government (whether that’s local, state, or national). Infrastructure (water, sewer, electricity, road repairs). Compassion when in need (food stamps, Medicaid). Healthcare. Nearly every other civilized country (and even many developing countries) offers universal healthcare, often with a private option for the (rich) folks who desire it and can afford it. But basic healthcare for citizens should be a given.

Now this president of hope has caved to political pressure – from his own party and from the opposition – to abandon any hope of real healthcare reform. No matter what Obama says to congress in today’s speech, this is what really needs to happen:

  • Institute a national healthcare system – Medicare for all.
  • Let the rich buy additional health insurance if they want to keep the insurance companies in business. For when they really need botox.
  • Eliminate restrictions on pre-existing conditions (which may actually happen).
  • Set some upper-limit guidelines for payment for various medical services.
  • Remove all lawyers from the healthcare system. Mistakes happen, folks; your doctor isn’t a god. Doctors really do their best. But people die. It doesn’t require a multi-million-dollar malpractice judgment.

What’s on display in Washington today should make every American ashamed. It should make any thinking American want to move to France or England or Cuba, where healthcare is cheaper (or free), universal, and high quality.