A Tale of Two Doctors: Neocon Republicans vs Democratic Health Care Proposal

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It is wonderful to see how the Republicans recruit physicians to become sort of expert witnesses on health care topics. You have Gingery and Burgess, and perhaps others, in the House. And you have Coburn and you had Frist from Tennessee. Of course Frist and his father and his brother all made multi-multi millions from HCA, a huge hospital conglomerate. So Frist can hardly be seen to be impartial. But Coburn pretends to be for the People. Isn’t it strange that he wants to do nothing that will help the People?

The Republicans have introduced legislation to counter the Democratic proposal of universal health care with a public option. Our friend Dr. Coburn, who claims that he has no axe to grind for the for-profit health care industry, did have his own medical business, over and above his medical practice, which he later sold. His solution to the health care crisis is tax breaks and cutting services for Medicaid and Medicare. It does nothing positive to cut medical overhead because that would mean cutting huge salaries for insurance company execs, increasing competition by making all companies take all patients, and by forcing the medical industry to control pricing where they have monopolies.

On the other side of the fence, we have Dr. Howard Dean, who was not only a successful practitioner but was also the governor of a state. These things are not ethereal to him. They are real live flesh and blood. So what did he do? He set up a complete children’s health care program in Vermont when he was governor. If you had children up to something like 18 and they were dependents, they were covered. Great program.

What program does Dr. Dean support? He supports the President’s plan. That plan would create an efficient government program, similar to Medicare, that would offer lower priced options than the private companies charge. It would make any company that wanted to be in the health care business offer its services to any person and take that person as a customer, regardless of pre-conditions.

Unreasonable? To whom? To the patient? Of course not. The citizen needs health care and should not be bankrupted to get it. And the alternative should not be some Dickensian atmosphere where you either have care or you are dumped into some dirty clinic in a back alley. The second part of the President’s program is that there will be reasonably priced pharmaceuticals available through the plan, just as there are through the Veteran’s Administration. By lowering overhead from 20% in private plans to about 2%, the same as the current overhead of Medicare, citizens will be able to afford health care. Any doctor, any where. And children only of non-registered immigrants will also be covered, but not illegal aliens themselves. It would simply be too unfair and financially unsupportable anyway.

There is no plan that can curtail spending and provide reasonably priced health care that does not affect the physician, the hospital and the health insurance company. While it would be nice if they could all maintain their lifestyles, it turns out pretty clearly now that it is precisely those lifestyles, outrageous incomes by CEOs and physician specialists and runaway hospital costs that are causing the incredibly high increases year-over-year by health care companies. They naturally don’t want to change. The Republicans and some Democrats like Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Max Baucus of Montana are hugely supported by the health care interests. They don’t want anything to change.

So if you want health care, you have only once place to go. First, go to your local representative and tell them that you want them to support you, not the healthcare industry. Then, if they do not get you real health care…the Democratic Plan–including a PUBLIC option, because that is the trigger to forcing lower costs–then you will vote for someone else next time. It may not be a Republican but it won’t be a Democrat who voted against health care for you and your family.

Many times we say that “so-and-so DESERVES” something and we think to ourselves…why? Not many people deserve a lot, frankly, who do not earn it. In this case, however, citizens of a country do deserve to have access to doctors and hospitals without bankrupting them. And by the way…we will not go deeply into debt in this program over the long term. We will be much better off, even though we will have to borrow money up front from the Treasury to kick it off. But then certain taxes and some affordable premiums…plus HUGE savings…will pay back the money to keep the system going. Do not listen to junk about the program putting us deep into debt.

Remember, even with the payoff of the long and hugely expensive Viet Nam war and a gigantic inflation in interest rates, we still had a deficit in the billions when Reagan took office. He left us not only with a $2.14 trillion debt, but an imbalance that left a $5.16 trillion dollar debt after Bush the First, and about the same or slightly more after Clinton…Clinton actually eventually reduced the debt a little. But then Bush the Second, Baby Bush, Shrub…whatever spent it up to $11 trillion, where it is now. None of that came under a Democratic President and it all came under the Republicans who now want you to believe that they are fiscally conscientious. Rubbish.

The Neocon Republicans want to bankrupt government. They want to bankrupt you, and they have been bankrupting you, at the rate of about 600,000 personal bankruptcies a year…BEFORE the recession started! Now you have to fight back. The first step was electing Barack Obama. Now you have to take action to get your own, affordable health care. Tell your representatives. Be active. Persuade some friends to do the same.

Dr. Coburn and his pals want to give you more of the same, with a little of the old magician’s dust. “Look over here. We’ve got choice. And tax cuts!” Dean put all the kids in Vermont into health care programs and didn’t bankrupt anyone. That is what Barack Obama will do, if you want it. You can still keep your old plan. It will cost you more, but if Obama’s health care program goes into effect, and if your health care plan screws you as they have so many others, you have some place to go that works with your doctors, your hospitals and your local services.

So go with the docs who care about you. Push the President’s plan for your peace of mind and for all your neighbors who cannot get health care right now.