Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Public OPTIONal

Let's get this most important (and least discussed) point of the health care debate out of the way, first and foremost. Health care IS a basic human right. Despite what Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and the like would have you believe, it is not about "socialism". These dimwits don't even know what socialism is, as they have now taken to comparing our president to history's most despised fascist, while still tossing about that socialist tag. Fascism, socialism, Marxism, communism, Shintoism, Buddhism, hedonism...as Joycelyn Elders once said, "We have all got to come to grips with our isms." Regardless of the 'ism', or the flag we live under, as human beings we are ALL entitled to basic health care.

This entire debate, and the "outrage" from the far right is absolutely astonishing to me. Having traveled around the globe and seen with my very own eyes the outstanding universal health care offered not only in wealthy western nations like Ireland, Italy, France and Great Britian, but also throughout the developing world. Citizens in countries like Brazil, and of all places, the former Soviet State of Ukraine. These folks are treated free of charge if they are suffering from a cold, if they break a limb, or if they should fall prey to a catastrophic illness like cancer. I know, because I not only lived in Kiev, I broke my finger there. I've seen the care given not only to Ukraine's own people, but to an ex-pat American living abroad...with no questions asked. When I told the doctor and the staff that I was not Ukrainian (pretty obvious with my horribly broken Russian), it simply didn't matter. This is how the civilized world does things. To many around the globe (and a growing majority in this country), our current health care system is nothing short of barbaric. Greed at it's finest. The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave has become the Land of the Deductible and the Bottom Line.

We've got a multi-billion dollar insurance industry in America with not only an entire political party in their back pocket, but with a whole mess of lies to tell.
Fear and intimidation are the weapons of these Republicans who grovel before their masters at the Cignas, the Blue Crosses, Kaiser Permanente's, and United Health Cares. And enough is enough.

This is not only about those fifty million Americans who have no health insurance, but it's also about those of us that do have coverage. We think we're actually okay, right? We're covered aren't we? We think this only to discover that when we actually do get sick, the insurance companies refuse to pay for treatment due to a 'pre-existing condition', a limit, some tretment or medication that's not covered, or some other such nonsense excuse that allows them to opt of out of paying for the care we've paid so diligently for. This is about those Americans who are left bankrupted and unable to pay for that basic human right we should have never been charged for in the first place in the Land of Do I Pay for Medicine This Week or Put Food on the Table? No more of these lies and no more time to waste!

Lie #1: President Obama wants to euthanize your grandma!!!

The truth: These accusations—of "death panels" and forced euthanasia—are, of course, flatly untrue. As an article from the Associated Press puts it: "No 'death panel' in health care bill."1 What's the truth? Reform legislation includes a provision, supported by the AARP, to offer senior citizens access to a professional medical counselor who will provide them with information on preparing a living will and other issues facing older Americans.2

Lie #2: Democrats are going to outlaw private insurance and force you into a government plan!!!

The truth: With reform, choices will increase, not decrease. Obama's reform plans will create a health insurance exchange, a one-stop shopping marketplace for affordable, high-quality insurance options.3 Included in the exchange is the public health insurance option—a nationwide plan with a broad network of providers—that will operate alongside private insurance companies, injecting competition into the market to drive quality up and costs down.4

If you're happy with your coverage and doctors, you can keep them.5 But the new public plan will expand choices to millions of businesses or individuals who choose to opt into it, including many who simply can't afford health care now.

Lie #3: President Obama wants to implement Soviet-style rationing!!!

The truth: Health care reform will expand access to high-quality health insurance, and give individuals, families, and businesses more choices for coverage. Right now, big corporations decide whether to give you coverage, what doctors you get to see, and whether a particular procedure or medicine is covered—that is rationed care. And a big part of reform is to stop that.

Health care reform will do away with some of the most nefarious aspects of this rationing: discrimination for pre-existing conditions, insurers that cancel coverage when you get sick, gender discrimination, and lifetime and yearly limits on coverage.6 And outside of that, as noted above, reform will increase insurance options, not force anyone into a rationed situation.

Lie #4: Obama is secretly plotting to cut senior citizens' Medicare benefits!!!

The truth: Health care reform plans will not reduce Medicare benefits.7 Reform includes savings from Medicare that are unrelated to patient care—in fact, the savings comes from cutting billions of dollars in overpayments to insurance companies and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse.8

Lie #5: Obama's health care plan will bankrupt America!!!

The truth: We need health care reform now in order to prevent bankruptcy—to control spiraling costs that affect individuals, families, small businesses, and the American economy.

Right now, we spend more than $2 trillion dollars a year on health care.9 The average family premium is projected to rise to over $22,000 in the next decade10—and each year, nearly a million people face bankruptcy because of medical expenses.11 Reform, with an affordable, high-quality public option that can spur competition, is necessary to bring down skyrocketing costs. Also, President Obama's reform plans would be fully paid for over 10 years and not add a penny to the deficit.12

We're closer now to real health care reform than we've ever been—and the next few weeks will decide whether it happens. each and every one of us needs to make sure that the truth about health care reform is spread far and wide to combat these right wing lies.

1. "No 'death panel' in health care bill," The Associated Press, August 10, 2009.

2. "Stop Distorting the Truth about End of Life Care," The Huffington Post, July 24, 2009.

3. "Reality Check FAQs," WhiteHouse.gov, accessed August 11, 2009.

4. "Why We Need a Public Health-Care Plan," The Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2009.

5. "Obama: 'If You Like Your Doctor, You Can Keep Your Doctor,'" The Wall Street Journal, 15, 2009.

6. "Reality Check FAQs," WhiteHouse.gov, accessed August 10, 2009.

7. "Obama: No reduced Medicare benefits in health care reform," CNN, July 28, 2009.

8. "Reality Check FAQs," WhiteHouse.gov, accessed August 10, 2009.

9. "Reality Check FAQs," WhiteHouse.gov, accessed August 10, 2009.

10. "Premiums Run Amok," Center for American Progress, July 24, 2009.

11. "Medical bills prompt more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies," CNN, June 5, 2009.

12. "Reality Check FAQs," WhiteHouse.gov, accessed August 10, 2009.


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