Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Goodbye and God Bless, Senator Kennedy

It is the end of an era. The magic of the Kennedys has been taken from us, in finality. There will never be others like them. Ted Kennedy was a man. Flawed, as any man is. What made him a great man was his belief in mankind, and his ability to live his values every single day of his life. He made great mistakes. He also made great retribution.

For me, he embodies the difference between “Me Government” versus “We Government.” He was a very rich, powerful man, yet he believed that if you gained something, it did not mean he was losing something. A rising tide lifts all boats. He knew that if you do better, he does better. He knew that if a citizen of this country is suffering, we all suffer. This is very far from the “I’ve got mine, screw you” mentality so prevalent these days. He didn’t need to denigrate you if your opinion was different, no name calling or backstabbing. He showed respect to people from all stations of life, every creed, color, lifestyle. He knew good-hearted people can disagree without being disagreeable.

He lived life about as fully as anyone can, and touched many people along the way. His absence is going to be felt in a very real way, and the world is a sadder place. Godspeed, Teddy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ok, People. How hard is this to Understand?

Healthcare Reform

Ok, one of the main problems is that name. This is not really health CARE reform, it's health insurance, or health system reform. Our actual health care is great. It's the access and affordability of it that's the problem. So let's parse it out, shall we?

Current Health Care System:
A "for profit" system in which people purchase insurance from private companies mandated by corporate law to make a profit, then receive their care from private hospitals likewise mandated to make a profit.

While the insurance companies have little to no regulation, allowing them to pick and choose their clients and refuse care pretty much without cause, the hospitals are mandated to provide care regardless of ability to pay. This means that the care for those who are under-insured or uninsured is passed on to those who are insured, through tax dollar subsidies and elevated premiums.

The idea of insurance is that a lot of people paying into a pool lowers the risk cost for individuals. Not a bad idea, right? But what if the insurance companies can choose only the young and healthy for the pool? That means that the insurance company assumes little risk, and makes the greatest profit. So they exclude "pre-existing conditions" and deny tests and services that are
outside the mainstream, even if they are efficacious. They tell YOUR doctor how long you can stay in the hospital for a given illness or procedure. They tell your doctor which tests he can perform. They tell him how much he can charge, or you pick up the extra cost. Then they take that nice big profit they've made of off your well being, and they pay their CEO's billions in bonuses and take the executives on expensive cruises. It all works very well. For THEM.

Meanwhile, what happens to you? Well, you get a minimum of care while paying through the nose for it. According to the Office of the Governor of California's website:

About half of all personal bankruptcies in the United States are due to medical bills. Several studies—including two published by Harvard Medical School and the Health Affairs journal—put the number of bankruptcies due to medical causes at approximately 50 percent.

Medical bankruptcy hits the middle class. The typical person filing for bankruptcy due to medical costs is about 40 years old, with some college education, middle-class or working-class, and a homeowner.

Many people pay as much for health care costs per month as they do for housing. And if they get sick and are told "that's not covered," what recourse do they have? Little to none. An appeals board? The news is full of stories of people who have literally died while fighting their insurance company for coverage. Remember during election coverage the stories of Barack Obama's mother having to fight for coverage while she was dying of cancer? What do you think would happen to you if you camped out on the lawn of the CEO of your insurance company to protest his policies? Jail time, I'm betting.

Under a Single Payer plan, what would change?

Well, cost. Medicare currently runs under a 3% overhead. THREE PERCENT. Private insurance companies run anywhere from 15-30%, averaged at 25%. Google it if you don't believe me; this info is out there, people. Why the difference? Well, Medicare isn't required to make a profit. It is not answerable to shareholders. It doesn't have to pay those golden parachutes or "retention bonuses." One problem with Medicare, left from the previous administration, thank you very much, is that it can no longer negotiate with drug companies to lower drug prices. That needs to be fixed. Who is Medicare answerable to? Well, Congress provides the funding, right? And you elect those Congressmen? So you can go to his office and picket and protest, and you (provided you behave yourself while you do it) will NOT end up in jail. And your local congress person wants to listen to you, 'cause he's always got another election coming up and he wants your money and your vote.

My personal preference would be Medicare for all. Start it tomorrow. System is already in place; simply begin lowering the age of eligibility, say ten years every year til everyone is covered from birth. Under Medicare, you can choose any doctor. Your doctor makes all decisions for your care without being told what tests he can perform or what drugs he can prescribe. No pre-approval required, no approved referrals required, no redundant tests because the information is available to all your caregivers. Streamlined, simple, and no one, NO ONE comes between you and your doctor.

If you want your own insurance it will always be available. Even in the most socialist systems, private insurance is always available to purchase. Don't like the government system? Opt out.

Talking Points Rebuttal

I don't want my tax dollars going to pay for abortions. It won't. It can't. There is already law in place prohibiting it, and that law is NOT going to be overturned by THIS Supreme Court, even if there were support to change it in Congress, which there isn't.

I don't want my taxes to go up. There are a plethora of ways to pay for this program, starting with repeal of the Bush tax cuts for milloniares, which if completely repealed would pay for the estimated cost twice. And even if your taxes were to go up, your premium cost is going WAY down. Net gain.

Death Boards. Oh dear God. No, the government is not going to kill Grandma. Most states already have provisions for and sometimes require a Health Care Proxy form from all adults receiving care. All the current bill does is allow payment for a consultation with your doctor over YOUR preferences for care. Period. The only Death Boards are the ones the insurance companies use to deny care.

I don't want the Government to get between me and my Doctor. Already addressed. The government doesn't make the health care decisions, it merely pays the bills.

I don't want America to go Socialist. This is the freakiest talking point yet. How will Single Payer Health Care cause the Constitution to change? Are these people aware that Government programs run the Post Office, the Veteran's Administration and Medicare nationally, and state Government runs fire, police, highway departments? That Congress has a government plan, as do soldiers, and federal employees? And horrifically, do these people who want their America back want the America of George Bush, who violated every Amendment to the Constitution except the Third, and most of the main body of the Constitution itself?

I really don't understand the fear that allows these people to accept the nonsensical ramblings and outright lies of Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity and Glen Beck. Do a little reseach, People. is a great place to start; it is the Library of Congress, and THOMAS is the area where all bills are available for review. Listen to the people who are ranting, and the loaded words they're using, and ask yourself why? Why does Sarah Palin bring her kids, and soldiers, into every conversation, no matter how inappropriate? She does it because it scares people, makes them react without thinking. People who don't think are their best friends.

Certainly, there are arguments about Health Care Reform that are worth having, and indeed, vital. There must be dialog. The current anti-everything movement, however, isn't interested in dialog, they want to shut it down. The ultimate goal is make the Democrats and Obama fail. They aren't even secretive about it; it's right there in their talking points when they tell their minions "Disrupt meetings, don't even let them finish their opening statements." So much for the "post partisian" movement.