Thursday, July 23, 2009


We are forgetting something! America’s health care delivery system must be reformed or it will ruin our economy!
by Charlie Leck

E.J. Dionne, the Washington Post columnist, put it quite clearly about the health care reform debate, calling it…
“the greatest economic justice battle of our moment”
He said that in a speech he delivered at the Chautauqua Institution in New York, in which he discussed “the limits of economic markets and the ethics of capitalism.” It was both a brilliant and interesting presentation. I invite you to listen to it.

The health care crisis in America is double pronged. First, it is a matter of human justice. People should not be left without health insurance. Civilized nations in the world have shown that every citizen can be covered and is covered. Health care is an important human right that should not be withheld from anyone. Second, the health care crisis is also an economic crisis. The cost of health care in America rises each year at a far greater rate than does our general cost of living index. The nation can economically handle that only so long. Such rapidly increasing costs must be reigned in for the safety of the nation’s economic health.

One of our great (and I mean, “great”) local writers, Jim Klobuchar (father of one of our U.S. Senators) was hopping mad about health care costs in his latest offering. Here’s how he began his piece, which you can find here.
"The quarterly earnings statement of one of the nation’s largest health insurers this week reported increased profits of nearly 155 per cent above a year ago. Its net earnings were more than $850 million.

"All of us, in the midst of the recession malaise and the catastrophic loss of jobs, are expected to stand up and applaud this triumph of American corporate enterprise.

"All of us, it should be added, with the exception of the more than 45 million people in America who aren’t covered by health insurance and can’t afford a cancer checkup. Add the thousands who are losing it every day.

"The story in one of the newspapers I read detailing the big profit increase offered a caveat to head off any rash notion that the world is peaches and cream for corporate health insurers.

'Unemployment could continue to surge,' it warned, 'cutting membership rolls (those who can afford insurance). Health reform could produce a government health plan, creating competition and crimping profit.'

Oh, the ugliness of it in the eyes of the swashbucklers of the insurance industry--health care reform and actual competition in the market place for the corporate health insurers, who are now free to pick and choose who they are going to insure and whose lives they have the power to save."
One of the tried and true ways to get costs under control is to provide competition for these greedy insurance companies. One of the primary goals of the President’s proposal is to control costs and to get things under control.

And while all of this goes on, the Republicans, who desperately want to protect the pack of profit hungry wolves in the health care industry, talk about breaking President Obama’s back.

“If we’re about to stop Obama on this,” GOP Senator Jim DeMint said, “It will break him.”

DeMint is, of course, speaking in political terms – of course!

Tim Kaine, the head of the Democratic Party, calls it “slash and burn politics!”

The Republicans talk of the debts we’re leaving our grandchildren. No, they don’t talk about it, they rave, rage and rag about it incessantly. Yet, the staggering debt our health care system is leaving for our children’s children is massive.

Last night, in a prime-time press conference designed to take his case to the American public, the President stated the argument very bluntly.
“If somebody told you that there is a plan out there that is guaranteed to double your health-care costs over the next 10 years,” he said, “that’s guaranteed to result in more Americans losing their health care, and that is by far the biggest contributor to our federal deficit, I think most people would be opposed to that,...

“That’s what we have right now... So if we don’t change, we can’t expect a different result.”
One of the sad, sad events we are being forced to watch right now is political horse-trading. Elected officials are thinking more about protecting their seats (and you could use a more earthy term here) than they care about protecting the health of the American public and the American economic system.

Don’t talk of the American populace as tiring of this debate. Don’t tell me they want it put off. I don’t believe that for a second. Remember the reasons Obama was elected. One of the great cornerstones of his campaign was “health care reform” and “health insurance coverage for every American.”

There are 45 million – yes, yes, I said 45 million – Americans out there with no health care coverage. Many of them are forced into expensive emergency rooms when they need routine health care attention. That bill goes to the public and that bill is staggering.

Jim Klobuchar goes on about the petty, silly, arrogant political in-fight when what we really need is action

“What we know for certain is the ferocity of the opposition to health care reform and to any significant measure of government involvement in that reform. We also know for certain that, every day, thousands of Americans are losing their homes and in danger of adding to the toll of the uninsured. We also know the virtually forgotten truth of the debate is that the American health care system in its present form is one of the most inefficient and costliest in the civilized world, a cost swelled by claims agents whose primary jobs are to deny claims.

“But the very complexity of reforming it through the legislative process, the horse-trading involved in it, is an open invitation to the “outs” in today’s political climate in Washington. That is to ignore the reality of millions of Americans being squeezed harder every day by a recession brought on by the same voices of greed and privilege who are now trying to sink health care reform."
Those of you, reading this, who really believe in the President’s attempt to bring all of America under a satisfactory health care umbrella, must declare your support of the President’s proposal. It is very easy to get a message to your U.S. Senator and your U.S. Representative. You can go on line and have the job done in 10 minutes.

Please, stand up and support President Obama now! Let’s not let the Republicans break him. If they break our President they break the dream and we who do not stand up now will be to blame.
*In an commentary in our local on-line newspaper, MinnPost, former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton presents a solid argument for single-payer health insurance. You might like to read it [click here].

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