Monday, August 17, 2009
HEALTH CARE: A GOVERNMENT OPTION
I am neither Democrat nor Republican—the two largest lobbies in this country. I am not Socialist. I have voted "Green," Democratic and Republican. I am an Independent. As an Independent, I stand on the side of a major overhaul for health care, for universal health care. It is bewildering that the Democrats, who have a clear mandate and the votes to effect this, would settle for anything less. Having lived in Canada—I am also a Canadian citizen—and having been the beneficiary of its health care system; having seen the functioning of this system as friends, associates, relatives, and Canadians from all walks utilized it, I say that it is the best system I know. I have friends and associates who say the British, or various European, or the Japanese are best. For the critics and health care lobbyists who would point to that great neighbour (the "u" in neighbour is no misspelling) to the North and spread tales about its health care system, I point you to the fine and balanced journalism in the recent NPR report on the Canadian health care system. There needs to be change to the current system in the US, where there are millions of people without health coverage, where the cost is too expensive for those who have coverage—I know of people whose health care premiums go up every year at a rate that outstrips any pay increase; I know of people whose premiums, this year alone, went up a whopping 40%. This is in addition to increased co-pays and reduced coverage. For the critics who say we cannot afford universal health care, I say, we could not afford the billions spent in Vietnam, and we cannot afford the billions being spent in Iraq and Afghanistan. This did not stop us from going anyway. For the critics who say we cannot afford universal health care, I say, we could not, and cannot, afford to bail out Wall Street (and the foreign millionaires and entities who own much of Wall Street) and the rest of the world's economies. This did not stop us from doing so, anyway. We can afford a universal health care system and, as a democracy and a society that is not socialist, we can also afford platinum health care systems for those who are wealthy enough and would like to pay for such coverage. For those lobbyists and alarmists who say that a government health care system would drive private systems out of the business, there is the example of carriers: the US Post Office and such private companies as Fedex and DHL exist side-by-side; private and state universities and colleges exist side-by-side in this country. For those who say that the government cannot run anything efficiently, I give you our current recession, where private enterprise and Wall Street ran the US and world economy into the ground—in fact, they do this all the time, manifest every 7-10 years in a recession, and then turn to governments for alms. We cannot afford such bailouts and yet we do. We cannot afford such greed and inefficiencies and yet we do. What we cannot afford is the current health care system. The version of a public option being offered just last week by President Obama—already he is backpedalling like any "good" politician—is better that no change. We need to support the President's government option—if the President is still offering it tomorrow. To the health care lobby: consider a government health option as a "Wall Street bailout"; compete; provide the best care at the best price; provide better and more efficient coverage than a government option; support a government option if you believe in the efficiencies of capitalism; this is your moment to shine. The time has come for health care reform, for universal coverage; the time has come for change; the time has come to support President Obama's government option for health care coverage—if it is still on the table tomorrow.