30 July 2009

Health Care : True Reform Must Include Public Option

Public Insurance Option is Necessary For True Reform

It's becoming obvious that these Repubs and Blue Dogs have been bought off by the millions of dollars the lobbyists are throwing at them. To them, getting re-elected is far more important than providing health care for ordinary Americans.
By Ted McLaughlin / The Rag Blog / July 30, 2009

Republicans and "Blue Dog" Democrats keep telling us there is no need for a public health insurance option. They want us to believe the private insurance companies can solve all our health care problems (even though these are the very people who have caused those problems).

It's gotten so bad that even Democratic leaders like Harry Reid (Senate Majority Leader) is now saying a bill could be passed without a public health insurance option. Some are even saying a co-op of private insurance companies could work just as well (even though they can't tell us how these co-ops could work as well as a public option).

It's becoming obvious that these Repubs and Blue Dogs have been bought off by the millions of dollars the lobbyists are throwing at them. To them, getting re-elected is far more important than providing health care for ordinary Americans. Otherwise, they would not be proposing as ridiculous a concept as co-ops for private insurance. A concept that amounts to little more than a gigantic payday for private insurance companies.

Let's review just what private insurance companies have done for America's citizens:
  • Left 55 million Americans without any health insurance at all, and this number keeps growing larger as more jobs disappear each month. Would a co-op system cover everyone? Doubtful.

  • Instituted a "recission" system, where the insurance company drops your policy when your health care becomes too expensive (and cuts into their profits).

  • Priced businesses out of the health insurance market when their employee's medical claims get too high.

  • "Cherry-pick" only healthy people to cover with affordable insurance. Everyone else is either denied or the policy is priced so high they can't afford it.

  • Rationed health care by refusing to pay for expensive treatments. Whether a person gets treatment is determined not by a doctor, but by an insurance company employee (whose bonus depends on how many medical claims he/she can deny).

  • Restricted the choice of a patient's doctor or hospital to only those approved by the insurance company.

  • Make only partial payments for doctors, hospital care and medical tests and procedures. This leaves huge medical bills for the patient (who thought he/she had coverage).

  • Frustrating doctors, hospitals and labs by consistently making their payments months late.

  • Deny treatment because a procedure is not on their approved list of procedures (which usually means it costs too much).

  • Developed a system where profits are more important than patient care. (In a public option, there would be no profit -- making the insurance cheaper).

  • Developed a system where there is 15-40% overhead costs that have nothing to do with medical care. (By comparison, the government program known as Medicare has only a 2% overhead).

  • Caused over 67% of the bankruptcies in America by leaving patients with huge medical bills.
I would like for the Repubs and Blue Dogs to explain to me how these for-profit private companies with huge overheads are going to solve all the problems they themselves created. The truth is they can't explain it. That's why they are resorting only to lies and scare tactics about public health insurance.

In the modern industrialized world, the United States is the only government that does not have a government-run single-payer health insurance system. Did you ever wonder why none of these countries have returned to a system of private insurance coverage? After all, the Repubs and Blue Dogs tell us government can't do it as well as private business can.

The reason they haven't gone back to a private plan is because, regardless of what the right wing says, there are some things the government does better than private companies (such as military defense, fire and rescue protection, police protection, road and bridge building and maintenance, etc.). Whether the Repubs and Blue Dogs like it or not, health care insurance is one of those things.

Don't let them lie to you. They are far more interested in protecting the pocketbooks of their corporate masters, than in seeing you get the best health care available. A "reform" package without a public insurance option is nothing more than a continuance of the current broken system.

But it's beginning to look like that might happen. Listen to what Majority Leader Harry Reid has to say, "It's really premature for me to lay out what should be in this bill." That's not strong leadership. In fact, that's no leadership at all. The Majority Leader should be putting his foot down right now and demanding the reform be real and actually fix our broken system. He should be demanding a public insurance option.

Tell your congressmen that any reform must include a public insurance option. If it doesn't, it is not worthy of support.

[Rag Blog contributor Ted McLaughlin also posts at jobsanger, an excellent Texas political blog.]

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