Friday, August 14, 2009

Who's Speaking Up For The Little Guy?

The great country of America, with its vocal and loyal supporters of public education, should be embracing the same noble democratic ideal of healthcare reform. Why the widespread worry, fear and hatred?

This is a country that connects its home prices to the quality of its local public school systems. Yet the thought of having public medical care for all makes Americans queasy and uncertain, protesting "socialism."

Public education isn't socialistic. What if every American had to pay for every hour of education? America should decide that healthcare, like education, should be given freely to all. The way education used to be, it was for the wealthy, because they had the time and leisure to enjoy it and could pay for it. Nowadays public, free or inexpensive education is looked upon as a necessity and a birthright to Americans.

Former President Bill Clinton "recently urged an audience "to debate the major points" – he said he still favored a public option but that there were many options; but he cautioned them not to lose sight of the opportunity they have now with a Democratically controlled Congress." The New York Times, "Bill Clinton: The Time is Now"

Can the country afford "to debate" what should be a right to every citizen? Nationals from countries with public healthcare defend their systems here. "The business" of doctors is to cure the sick. It's not supposed to be about making the most money. This focus on money-making procedures, money mostly made by cutting up patients, distracts doctors from treating patients with increasing efficiency and caring continuity.

Don't Americans care about the way their country appears so brutish to other countries? They are seeing on television the opposition to healthcare reform showing up to town halls with guns to oppose the very subject they should be most open to widening to all members of society? It's just antisocial. Americans are getting distracted from a huge opportunity, not that they seem to care how they appear outside of their borders.

Hearing about the high compensation of those at the upper levels of healthcare, the insurance company executives, drug company executives, senior doctors, it sounds as if everyone above the level of janitors and nurses at hospitals is obsessed with "making it big." But this cycle of increasing prosperity (except for most nurses and janitors) doesn't improve outcomes for American patients. Otherwise, American healthcare would get top marks internationally.

"What's still missing" says Paul Krugman of The New York Times" is a sense of passion and outrage — passion for the goal of ensuring that every American gets the health care he or she needs, outrage at the lies and fear-mongering that are being used to block that goal."

President Obama has many different areas to consider and healthcare reform could be the most useful one he could make. For now, at least. He certainly has our permission to speak up for us. For the man who is at home wondering how to pay for drugs for sick children, or the single mother who's already paying a third of her salary at Walmart to pay for healthcare. Who cares about them?

Not the insurance executives who are loaded, bloated, with excess pay. Or drug company executives who take advantage of the public's capacity to pay for expensive drugs with "high overhead" and "travel costs." Or the senior doctors too busy, uninterested and unmotivated to promote greater cost control efficiencies?

Its going to take a concerted union of insurance executives, drug company executives, doctors and the government to do all the work that needs to be done to open medical care to all and create an efficient and enduring healthcare system that meets the needs of those it is designed to protect: the sick and needy.

Opening up healthcare as America did years ago with education is the courageous, noble and "the right thing to do" even if the consequences aren't yet clear. It's high time to listen to the will and desire of mainstream Americans and take the opportunity to open up public healthcare to all. Everyone will benefit, if public education is taken an example.

By the way, doctors make almost as much in many other countries as they do in America. As for drug companies, it isn't clear that their research is always sourced in the United States -- it often isn't. Federal and state laws help drug companies flourish, profit and charge as much as they can. Insurance company executives mimic government bureaucracy at a much higher price and often stand between the doctor and patient. Is it any wonder that drug and insurance companies are hiring their best people in public relations to persuade the President to listen to them and to encourage disruption at town hall meetings?

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