Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican and you are sincere about health care, we will offer the most honest, most factual understanding of the issue that we can find. If you like it, you will be happy about health care reform. If you do not like it you will dislike health care reform. But this is the best information we can provide right now August 15, 2009.
We are not going to pull any punches on our position. We would prefer the eminently more rational single-payer system of health care delivery. In the long run it is better, less expensive and more reliable. We will not say that insurance companies are not greedy…we think that they are. Sorry about that. We will not say that the health care debate is fair and rational. One side is literally trying to obstruct it and kill it. So, with those parameters in mind, we have set out the essential facts on health care reform. We are in favor of it, but we won’t tell lies to defend it, nor is that necessary.
The very first thing you should know is this: if there is no public option, there is no reform. If there is no public plan as a safety valve, then you have only one option with which to leverage the health care companies: legal action. Insurance companies are the last, best refuge of mediocre attorneys. They have legal departments as far as the eye can see. Consequently, anyone or any company looking for legal recourse…even if it is in a state that might provide it…will be long gone before any result could save someone’s life. They have more money and more ability to stall than you do, by far. It is simple. No public option means no reform.
There are at least three bills in the House, basically HR 3200, with various versions. Dennis Kucinich’s bill, HR 676, which, we think, is a much better system for everyone, less expensive and much more directly responsible to the People, and therefore easier to improve, is not being considered at all, as we understand it. We are told that we must understand that the health industry…the term which makes no sense at all to much of the industrialized world…having become 17% of our GNP is one of those “industries” that is apparently “too big to fail.”
Make no mistake about it, with something like $60 million spent to kill any reform, just since April of 2009, you can see why we are not going to do Dennis Kucinich’s bill. The health care “industry” is indeed an industry, just like cigarettes or fast food, and surgeons, radiologists, urologists, hospital directors, health insurance CEOs and top executives want to maintain their good to lavish lifestyles even as the ship goes down. We exempt nurses because they have been for better health care since the sun first came up. They have been battling unsafe conditions and poor administration–at least those in unions have–for many, many years.
The current system and those who run it are not criminal. Whether or not they are even “evil” is a judgement. We do know that the vast majority of those in health care and health insurance management see great difficulties for average citizens every day, and yet they have not spoken out. It is simply the way human nature works and in our current Neocon-Republican, post-Reagan society, no one basically gives a damn about their fellow man.
If they did, they would worry about the 50 million who do not have health care or the 18,000 who die every year about whom it can be clearly documented that they could have been saved if they had been able to be diagnosed sooner. But they had only emergency room care. We would be worrying about the astonishing number of 1,000,000 people who go bankrupt each year because of medical bills that overwhelm them. Three-quarters of those bankrupted families had health insurance that did not cover them. We would worry about what happens to people who are laid off and lose their health care and those who are denied health care because they once had cancer and are cured or had a heart-attack and lead a healthy lifestyle but can’t afford the increased health insurance premiums.
These are not statistics. These are real people with regular, daily extreme hardship, crying out for assistance. And the health insurance industry and the hospital groups, the pharmaceutical industry and the AMA…the very doctors we count on….are spending $60 million, which, by the way, is a minuscule fraction of their profits, to prevent universal health care. We can only assume that they do not want the public to have a fail-safe public option to fall back on. The only evidence is that they don’t want you to have anything to fall back on.
They want to take as much money as possible for the stockholders, like Rick Scott, who now owns hundreds of clinics yet is fighting any change in the system. When he ran another hospital group it was fined $1.7 billion by the federal government for cheating taxpayers. But he is not in jail. He is spending millions on television to keep his current company–who knows if they are not doing the same thing they did before–from being asked to contribute anything to the common good of this country.
When you talk to citizens in other advanced countries of the world about bankruptcy from medical bills, they simply look at you, not able to comment. You may as well ask them what is on the menu when you have dinner with extraterrestrials. They don’t understand the question because they have no context in which to process it.
So, once again, here is the general consensus–from the bills themselves–about what you will get, what it will cost and how it will be paid for. Some of it is a little bit conjectural, in that the Congress may decide, for example, to pay for it a different way. But the parts that are stated here about how it could be paid for are true and researched.
What you will get: Facts about a proposed health care reform plan. These are the basic essentials of health care reform.
1. Insurance available at a reasonable cost, through an insurance exchange. No pre-existing conditions. Health insurance companies may not refuse coverage for past medical history.
2. There will be caps on how much health insurance companies may charge for co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses
3. Check-ups, like physicals, eye exams, mammograms, etc. will be fully covered. The idea is that keeping you healthier is not only good for you but is more cost effective for a health delivery system.
4. You cannot be dropped because you get a serious illiness or have a serious accident.
5. You cannot be charged more because you are a woman or of some ethnic group that may have a proclivity for some illness.
6. There are no lifetime caps on coverage.
7. Children may continue to be covered though age 26.
8. Health insurance companies must renew you as long as you continue the policy in service by paying the premiums.
9. If you cannot find an insurance plan in the private sector, or if you are self-employed or lose your job…or for any reason cannot find or afford health care, you will be able to use the public option. This will not be an emergency room. This will be actual Medicare-style health insurance sponsored by the government that will work exactly like the private plans. The point is that you never have to worry about seeing a doctor.
Those are the basics. It is pretty simple. You can get coverage at a reasonable price and you can’t lose it because you get sick or for any other rational reason.
Now what about some of the nutty ideas?
1. No rationing and no big government takeover of health insurance. Nothing is going to change with you unless you want it to. Period. Except…your premiums will begin to go down. On the other hand, right now you may not be able to get certain procedures approved by your insurance company and that may end with the new bill, depending on what it is.
2. We can afford this. There are about a dozen ways to pay for it, and while some may involve some small sacrifice, the benefit of universal health care will be overwhelmingly better. Enormously more beneficial to individuals and to the country. Most serious economists think that health care will cost nothing in the long run. That is simply because we pay so much now and so many people who could afford moderately priced health care will pay into the system once it is established. The current recession will have some effect on it as it is having on everything else, but not enough to come even close to postponing it. In fact, most people need this plan more today than ever.
3. There will be no euthanasia. It is a silly, stupid lie that has no validity at all. Enough said.
4. Vets’ health care and Medicare and Medicaid will be improved, not worsened. Good delivery programs will be improved with this. That’s all. And 500,000 more veterans will be eligible.
5. Small businesses will finally have a plan that they can work with. There will still be two options. You will be able to purchase supposedly inexpensive health care programs. If not–and if we have a public option–it is very important that we do, your employees will still have health insurance, but every company, like yours, will be asked to pay a small tax to help cover the costs. You will receive tax credits to help pay for the health care you provide, but if the government provides it, you do no get off scot-free. You will pay a tax ranging from 2 to 4% depending on size of payroll. It is the only fair way to assist those who do provide health care. None of this applies to companies with fewer than 50 employees.
6. Medicare will stay the same and be improved. Enough said. That’s all you need to know.
7. If you want to keep your current plan, you can. You have heard this and, again, it is all you need to know.
8. There will be no government bureaucrat standing between you and your doctor. No one will dictate your health care program. No one will tell you how to live or when to die. Those comments are foolish, reckless, lies.
9. This plan calls for MORE family physicians, not fewer. They will be paid more. There will be more doctors graduated from medical schools, rather than the restrictive numbers established by the medical cartel called the American Medical Association, which has curtailed the number of doctors over the years to prop up doctors’ incomes.
10. Illegal immigrants will not have medical care under the public option.
The public option is the key to health care reform. If there is no public option, health insurance companies win, for many reasons that are not quickly apparent. Remember, the health insurance industry has spent over $60 million dollars since April alone to buy up your House or Senate member, to create disruptions around the country and to create mob rule, attacking anyone who trys to reform health care. That is raw political power. This is not controversial policy. 74% of Americans want health care reform. But the health insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry and the AMA have made it controversial for one reason only: to defeat the public option.
If they win–you lose, and you may lose more than health care. If major interests learn that they can defeat our government, with 60 Senators and a huge majority in the House and a highly popularly elected President, then they know that they can do anything. They can put guns in the hands of militia. They can create their own government within a government. They can bankrupt the government to impoverish the middle class. They can kill Medicare, the VA and Social Security. They can achieve all those things that Dick Cheney and George W. Bush wanted. And you won’t be able to do one single thing to stop them.
They are organizing the last bastion of free thought, the Internet, right now in huge meetings around the country. People who think that Jesus is coming. People who hate blacks and never got over segregation. People who think that Mexicans are taking over society. People who think that there is still such a thing as Communism. People who are for white power and want to carry guns to force their viewpoints on the rest of us. People who work for big corporations, make good money, have health care, country club memberships, two new gas-guzzling SUVs and kids in private schools–and don’t want others to have what they have. They want to shut down freedom under the guise of complaining that what they want–freedom for themselves alone–is freedom for everyone.
You can become a part of a new society, forcing responsible action by your government representatives. We’ve made our decisions. We voted at the ballot box for what we want. Don’t let money and power take it away. Don’t sit back now and do nothing and let large international corporations and the very rich dictate what happens in your life by spreading propaganda, rumors, lies and hate speech, using the most despicable elements of our society. If you think mob rule is ugly in this health care fight, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. If they see that this campaign of hate and threat and disruption works, it will be 1930s Germany all over again.
There are evil people in every society. They only go away when they realize that they can’t attract enough followers or hold down the opposition. This is the time to shut them down. But you need to act now. Find your representative’s name and phone number and tell him or her that you want a public option and that you will vote against them next time if they don’t vote for it.