BY ANDY ODEN
I can’t decide whether I’m more tired of people yelling at each other, or suffering with Oklahoma’s outrageous and unacceptable poverty and near-poverty rates. Along with education, we must have a healthier community, state and nation. I do not believe any initial plan is THE “silver bullet,” but I do believe our health care system is broken or at least unresponsive for too many of our neighbors.
When our nation chose to send humans to the moon, did we turn to any other nation as our model? Nope. Did some people think it was too expensive? Yep. Did it truly bring growth to our economy from all its related innovations? Yep. We used the creative and diligent resources of America’s best thinkers.
Why can’t we solve health care the same way? It’s clear we need a change, but special interests are trying to block reform with distortions and distractions.
I just joined “40 Days for Health Reform,” a campaign from the faith community to take back the debate and move real reform forward.
Over the next 40 days, people of faith will run a national TV ad campaign, sign petitions, conduct in-district public meetings reaching over 100 Members of Congress, and even host a national webcast and call to action with President Barack Obama!
Here in Oklahoma, every day 140 babies are born. But six of the babies are born to children, 53 of the babies are born without adequate prenatal care, and 11 of the babies are born too small. http://www.odl.state.ok.us/kids/factbook/kidscount2007-2008/intro.html
We need all our neighbors to have access to health care. If Jesus told me to love my enemies, what the heck am I supposed to do with my neighbors?
You can visit www.faithforhealth.org and sign the petition to join the campaign and stay up to date with these folks.
Further, when you hear someone spout something you’re not sure about, do a little fact-checking with this one:
Top Five Health Care Reform Lies
Lie #1: President Obama wants to euthanize your grandma!!!
The truth: These accusations—of “death panels” and forced euthanasia—are, of course, flatly untrue. As an article from the Associated Press puts it: “No ‘death panel’ in health care bill.”4 What’s the real deal? Reform legislation includes a provision, supported by the AARP, to offer senior citizens access to a professional medical counselor who will provide them with information on preparing a living will and other issues facing older Americans.5
Lie #2: Democrats are going to outlaw private insurance and force you into a government plan!!!
The truth: With reform, choices will increase, not decrease. Obama’s reform plans will create a health insurance exchange, a one-stop shopping marketplace for affordable, high-quality insurance options.6 Included in the exchange is the public health insurance option—a nationwide plan with a broad network of providers—that will operate alongside private insurance companies, injecting competition into the market to drive quality up and costs down.7
If you’re happy with your coverage and doctors, you can keep them.8 But the new public plan will expand choices to millions of businesses or individuals who choose to opt into it, including many who simply can’t afford health care now.
Lie #3: President Obama wants to implement Soviet-style rationing!!!
The truth: Health care reform will expand access to high-quality health insurance, and give individuals, families, and businesses more choices for coverage. Right now, big corporations decide whether to give you coverage, what doctors you get to see, and whether a particular procedure or medicine is covered—that is rationed care. And a big part of reform is to stop that.
Health care reform will do away with some of the most nefarious aspects of this rationing: discrimination for pre-existing conditions, insurers that cancel coverage when you get sick, gender discrimination, and lifetime and yearly limits on coverage.9 And outside of that, as noted above, reform will increase insurance options, not force anyone into a rationed situation.
Lie #4: Obama is secretly plotting to cut senior citizens’ Medicare benefits!!!
The truth: Health care reform plans will not reduce Medicare benefits.10 Reform includes savings from Medicare that are unrelated to patient care—in fact, the savings comes from cutting billions of dollars in overpayments to insurance companies and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse.11
Lie #5: Obama’s health care plan will bankrupt America!!!
The truth: We need health care reform now in order to prevent bankruptcy—to control spiraling costs that affect individuals, families, small businesses, and the American economy.
Right now, we spend more than $2 trillion dollars a year on health care.12 The average family premium is projected to rise to over $22,000 in the next decade13—and each year, nearly a million people face bankruptcy because of medical expenses.14 Reform, with an affordable, high-quality public option that can spur competition, is necessary to bring down skyrocketing costs. Also, President Obama’s reform plans would be fully paid for over 10 years and not add a penny to the deficit.15
Also, check out this great new White House “Reality Check” website: http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/ or this excellent piece from Health Care for America Now on some of the most outrageous lies: http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51729&id=16778-3278087-2yGLefx&t=1
1. “More ‘Town Halls Gone Wild’: Angry Far Right Protesters Disrupt Events With ‘Incomprehensible’ Yelling,” Think Progress, August 4, 2009.
2. “Fight the smears,” Health Care for America NOW, accessed August 10, 2009.
3. “Palin Paints Picture of ‘Obama Death Panel’ Giving Thumbs Down to Trig,” ABC News, August 7, 2009.
4. “No ‘death panel’ in health care bill,” The Associated Press, August 10, 2009.
5. “Stop Distorting the Truth about End of Life Care,” The Huffington Post, July 24, 2009.
6. “Reality Check FAQs,” WhiteHouse.gov, accessed August 11, 2009.
7. “Why We Need a Public Health-Care Plan,” The Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2009.
8. “Obama: ‘If You Like Your Doctor, You Can Keep Your Doctor,'” The Wall Street Journal, 15, 2009.
9. “Reality Check FAQs,” WhiteHouse.gov, accessed August 10, 2009.
10. “Obama: No reduced Medicare benefits in health care reform,” CNN, July 28, 2009.
11. “Reality Check FAQs,” WhiteHouse.gov, accessed August 10, 2009.
12. “Reality Check FAQs,” WhiteHouse.gov, accessed August 10, 2009.
13. “Premiums Run Amok,” Center for American Progress, July 24, 2009.
14. “Medical bills prompt more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies,” CNN, June 5, 2009.
15. “Reality Check FAQs,” WhiteHouse.gov, accessed August 10, 2009.
Sources for the Five Lies:
#1: “A euthanasia mandate,” The Washington Times, July 29, 2009.
#2: “It’s Not An Option,” Investor’s Business Daily, July 15, 2009.
#3: “Rationing Health Care,” The Washington Times, April 21, 2009.
#4: “60 Plus Ad Is Chock Full Of Misinformation,” Media Matters for America, August 8, 2009.
#5: “Obama’s ‘Public’ Health Plan Will Bankrupt the Nation,” The National Review, May 13, 2009.
Editor’s Note: Andy Oden lives in Edmond, OK and is an occasional contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. This essay includes verbatim and paraphrased information from the 40 Days for Health Reform campaign.