BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
There was a shockingly strange and simple statement made this past week by a leading professional in the health care field. The president of the California Nurses Association said plainly and clearly: “Everybody on Capitol Hill knows what the solution to health care reform is!” That got the attention of this writer.
This nursing leader went on to follow up by saying that although everybody knows the solution, there is a lack of willingness on the part of Congress to do anything about it. She attributed this to the millions of dollars of political contributions from the insurance industry and the activities of their lobbyists at the Capitol.
This lady pointed out that the premium dollars paid by the consumers were being siphoned off to pay armies of lobbyists handing out millions of dollars around and among senators and representatives. They [members of Congress] are not working for the people, she declared; they are being bought by insurance company dollars accumulated through not paying claims of the ill and by putting sick people off coverage.
Citing the deplorable condition of the health care system, which she said nurses know and see the effects of this on patients, she thought it obscene that Congress was fiddling around with minutiae about plans while patients suffer and the uninsured are dying. She cited 43,000 deaths a year because of lack of treatment due to no insurance.
So, if everybody on the Hill knows the solution to our current health care mess, just what is that?
To this nursing leader it was quite simple: “Medicare for everybody.”
Many of us have wondered this same thing, “Why not something similar to Medicare for everybody? Why not just a free and open option for everybody to continue their own health insurance or switch to a government sponsored program with a schedule of benefits similar to Medicare?”
This would certainly seem to be the simplest and best plan. It is a plan that nearly everyone knows about and is not that hard to comprehend in form and detail. The costs of various medical procedures, products, and services have already been set at an affordable rate, not the exorbitant rates billed by hospitals.
Anyone who has had any procedure performed in a hospital lately knows the obscene rates at which services are first billed. This writer had an outpatient service done recently which was billed for $3,000. Medicare paid only $110.
Although some providers complain about Medicare payment schedules, nobody loses money. Hospitals are spending large advertising dollars to attract patients, including Medicare ones.
Paying for medical services at the billed rates would bankrupt the rich. But the rich have insurance companies negotiating rates for them, and Medicare sets its rates. The uninsured have no advocate. They are billed. They are sued. Their property is attached. Their wages are garnished. Or, they declare bankruptcy. Often there is little other choice than the latter.
There a number of facets of the opposition to decent and affordable health care at reasonable rates which this writer has great difficulty in understanding and accepting.
It is hard to understand how politicians, either for personal greed or for the sake of pure politics, are so corrupt that they will oppose something so desperately needed by the people – when they know the solution.
It is difficult to understand how those who proclaim religious and moral beliefs the loudest can ignore a moral imperative, such as people dying unnecessarily and sick people suffering, mistreated or untreated.
It is difficult to understand how those who declare themselves to be conservatives can oppose changes to reduce human hardship while introducing efficiencies into the system, markedly reducing health care insurance premiums for themselves and their employees, and helping businesses survive competitively. The dodge of opposition by calling this “socialized medicine” is rank sophistry, which must plague even a calloused conscience.
What is wrong with Democrats? Why don’t they step out and do exactly what they know to be right? Are they corrupted by money also? Are they fearful of a backlash from right wingers at home? Where is their statesmanship?
How can our “representatives” in government just ignore polls show their constituents favor a public plan by a majority of 64% on up to 73% in different polls?
How much has to do with the proposed surcharge in income tax rates of 3% for those making over a half-million a year? Is this the varmint in the woodpile?
In the end, sooner or later, we must come to the realization the plain and simple solution is indeed the best for all. Everybody, insured or uninsured, should be given a choice. One of the choices which should be available to all is a premium driven form of Medicare operated under the same kind of federal rules.
To use a common expression: No one should die because of the lack of health care coverage, and nobody should go broke because of sickness. It is that simple. So is the solution.
– Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer