Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Public Healthcare in the United States

The issues of Public Health seem to spur more than just passion from people who haven't actually read the latest plan. It seems to be bringing a near "Red Dawn" scare in those who lived through the Cold War, a taste of McCarthy Era panic, from those who don't comprehend socialized medicine. And for others, it's a desperate plea to finally find a way to get care into their lives when they've had none. First of all, I want anyone reading this blog to READ the plan before they assume any positions on the matter.

It's hard to make an informed decision unless you really understand the points being made. The fear is that we will have huge tax increases, that our choices will be limited. The fear is that those who have chronic illnesses and those who have terminal illnesses will be excluded from the plan. The fear is that those who have private care will no longer be allowed to keep the doctors they have. The fears are enormous, and largely fanned by a media pool addicted to dramatic town meetings. The media isn't showing those discussions that are allowing people like you and me to ask questions and get answers. The media isn't showing the number of letters responded to on both the President's websites, nor the letters written by the Senators and Congressmen who try to explain the facts from the drama.

I do see the issues that have taken place in the Veterans Health Care system and with Medicare that have caused people undue hardships. These are both well documented over years, and with my personal experience in both programs I also have found some of the issues are infuriating. Mental Health, especially, seems to be poorly funded and the issues with those who have long-term illness are often mired with red tape long before care is recieved.

But, both programs are run without the sky-rocketing tax increases threatened by fear-mongers who assume that the Canadian and British taxation that pays for those country's health programs are similar to what we'll experience. It's just not going to happen that way. With nearly 50% of the American public on either VA or Medicare, Medicaid, or other governmental programs, we have a long term history of not using our tax dollars on these. Our construction bonds, military spending, and now "bail out" spending has taken a far greater percentage of our tax dollars, and education, once a larger pie slice is now whittled away.

Be educated about the plan, and you'll see there are faults, but there are benefits. There's not a stipulation stating that those who have private care MUST convert to this program, although I've heard both reporters and politicians state this. Several key points seem to rely on the "Once the Program Is Running" solutions to imminent issues. There is just no way to have millions of people under one system without bumps, potholes, and even traffic jams on the road to the change. There hasn't been such a large scale change expected of the American public since the days when we were allowed to go to gas stations only on odd or even days. Be aware there are going to be problems, but don't be afraid that you will be expected to solve them, or that the solutions lie in your paychecks. We'll all be adjusting, even those who are not electing to take part in the program. And, just be aware- being part of a Socialized Health Care System does not make you a Socialist, which also seems to be the war cry of those who haven't read the plan.

The program is expected to change the way we get our care, but it hasn't fully addressed the FDA, and I believe this is a key gap in the idea. We have had a governmental program in place to protect consumers against failures of medical treatments and pharmaceuticals, but the length of time and the manner of the testing doesn't seem to address the failures of drug companies to work towards healing ALL people, rather than those who will provide the largest dollar amount to the trustees. Until that issue is completely, and honestly addressed, we simply don't have any chance of Universal Health Care. A child with Down's Syndrome deserves the same medical breakthrough research as someone who wants to look younger on television. Yet, there isn't anything in the new plan addressing this.

Whether you support Democrats or Republicans, or if like me, you prefer to remain label-free, you don't have to use that label to determine your agreement to the plan. Libertarians will disagree- by the nature of the beast having one more governmental program is completely against all they stand for, but the concept of choice isn't lost on them either. This is still the land of the free, and the home of the brave. We are part of a growing problem. As Los Angeles and other cities have events that bring thousands to the doctors' office for the first time in some lives- the fact is there are millions of people who have had no care. Ever.

As much as we'd like the government to stay out of our personal lives, we've built a long-term relationship of reliance. The war exists between those who work hard and get very little and those who don't work at all, and get everything handed to them. The word "Free" is a four-letter f-word that inspires hate in those who are tired of seeing people abuse the system. But, the fact- another f-word- exists that there are millions of people who are living paycheck to almost-paycheck. Millions are out of work because jobs are sent overseas. Millions are out of work. Period. The biggest population growth in the last five years is in the senior population and jobs for seniors are harder to obtain. Age descrimination exists in the country obsessed with youth.

We can pontificate the issues of birth control. We can claim that illegal aliens are the reason for the full emergency rooms. We can spout on about the failures of corporations in the concept of employee retention. We can disect the issues of the bad financial management. The country is full of thieves, and it's full of poverty. The fact exists that people are struggling. The fact is people are the country. We, The People. If we deny care to one, we have denied care to all. Pointing out flaws doesn't solve the problem- it only states obvious issues. In the ideal of a country based on the dream that anyone can succeed if only given the right tools- the tools may be something as simple as a pair of glasses, or as complex as surgery for spinal bifida. And, the fact remains, an educated person and a healthy person provide more to a society than one lacking both.

Today's Question- Do you feel comfortable discussing the health plan with peers, family, or employers? Have you read anything about the plan before, and if so, do you plan to note your objections or agreements with your political leaders? Where do you see the health care program in 5 years?


  1. Yes, I have read all 1000+ pages of one of the proposed bills. Sounds fine to me. For most of the people I know, if there is no government healthcare (and there is not for most) there is NO healthcare at all.

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