Saturday, November 28, 2009

Letter to the editor - read it here-probably won't get printed

If you believe our health care system needs improvement, you need to do some reading or have a member of Physicians for a National Health Plan or a Single Payer advocate in your area speak to your group. AHIP, the Association of Health Insurance Plans, has a play book that they work from like any sports team. They pull it out every fifteen years or so, whenever the political climate has shifted to make raining on their parade again a possibility.
You’re probably aware that some business models don’t work forever and plans need to be reviewed and changed to adapt to the changing business climate. Businesses that don’t recognize changing times fail. Witness the financial and auto sector difficulties. The nation’s model for health care is failing. The nation’s economy has evolved from a manufacturing focus to more service based. Duh! Service sector jobs in most cases don’t pay as well as manufacturing jobs did. Factories are cutting wages or closing under the pressures of climbing health care costs and foreign competition. Workers cannot live on a lower pay scale AND pay a larger share for health insurance.

With the economy weak as it is and jobs leaving the country for cheaper labor sources for decades, it seems irrational to swim against the tide any longer. Despite our deep conviction in free market economics and a competitive marketplace, we are the only world power that doesn’t offer universal health care. It’s past time to disconnect health care coverage from employment. Employers cannot stand the burden and many do not offer coverage any longer and more are planning to quit offering coverage. Insurers are behaving badly by denying and delaying care, not covering or charging prohibitive premiums for pre-existing conditions and using devices like rescission to cancel policies when a person becomes ill. And have you heard, being female is a pre-existing condition?!

Economic stimulus – One of the few growing sectors in the country is health care. With the downturn, hospitals are hemorrhaging jobs like every other industry because their income depends on insured workers, a dwindling class. Millions of jobs would be created in excess of those lost in the insurance industry if H.R. 676 were passed by Congress. Everyone would be covered cradle to grave for medical, psychological, dental and optical needs all with no tax increase for most people because we would save so much by cutting the for-profit insurance companies out of it.
Taxpayers already foot 61% of the medical bills in America considering all the public employees that we pay for at every level of government, Medicare for seniors, Medicaid for the poor, the VA hospitals for Veterans, health care for prisoners and American Indians, and the disabled. They are all covered. Now it’s time to cover people who are between jobs, underemployed, have a pre-existing condition. Taxpayers would get more for their money by eliminating the insurance company middle-men. America is number #1 in per capita health care cost. On no other measure do we rank as high. Look at the only logical, sustainable solution. Let’s get our money’s worth and save over 45,000 lives annually in the process.

Many have said they don’t want the government running health care. Why not? If you reach age 65, your chances of getting older are improved because you now qualify for Medicare. Medicare is not the failure that many claim simply because they hate it and it infringes on government support of their business. Representatives spout off the lies from the AHIP playbook to ensure they are re-elected. Let’s get real and cut the insurance companies off of corporate welfare. One insurance plan paid by the public and reviewed and managed by regional committees of health care professionals sounds like a better system than insurance companies denying claims for profit. It would cut provider administrative expenses enormously and permit more savings and lower rates.

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