Scare tactics limit debate
To the Editor:
I’ve been watching in frustration as our politicians debate the issue of healthcare in this country. What I hear is the usual 30 second soundbites of “Socialism”, “Rationing”, “Taxes” that passes for debate but instead is meant to scare the listener and shut down the real debate. When I see the statistics that show our country falling so far behind other industrialized countries when it comes to providing healthcare for our citizens, I am reminded of the time many years ago when Blue Cross/Blue Shield was a non-profit company. What happened? How did they and all the other big insurance firms get to be major profit centers more concerned with limiting who gets care and how much they get?
Then, I happened to watch on television last week the playing of some of the Nixon Tapes just now becoming available. This was a real eye-opener.
On February 17, 1971 John Erlichman was in the Oval Office discussing healthcare with President Nixon. What follows is the actual transcript of that conversation.
Erlichman: “...one issue and that is whether we should include these health maintenance organizations like Edgar Kaiser’s Permanente thing.”
Nixon: “You know I’m not too keen on any of these damn medical programs. This is a private enterprise one. Well, that appeals to me. Edgar Kaiser is running his Permanente deal for profit. And, the reason he can do it…I had Edgar Kaiser come in and talk to me about this. And I went into it in some depth. All the incentives are toward less medical care because the less care they give, the more money they make. Fine. And the incentives run the right way. Not bad.” (The bold emphasis is mine. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!)
As I was shaking my head in disbelief, I then saw the speech Nixon gave the very next day. On February 18, 1971, Nixon went before the public and said: “I am proposing today a new national health strategy. The purpose of this program is simply this. I want America to have the finest health care in the world, every American to be able to have that care when he needs it….”
How long are we willing to suspend disbelief and pretend that our leaders will do what is best for the country instead of what is best for interest groups and partisan politics? We have seen most of the Republican Party along with some Democrats obstruct and denounce honest debate about this issue. The healthcare industry is spending $1,400,000 a day lobbying our Congress in order to block any real reform. Just last week, both our Senators, Chambliss and Isakson, voted to continue funding the F-22 fighter jet which is not wanted nor needed for the defense of our county. In fact, we already have 187 of these planes which have never been used in any military battle including Iraq and Afghanistan. Our Senators are okay spending needless money on this program but they are blocking any meaningful reform of our healthcare.
We need to be debating a Single Payer system which really is the only way to guarantee that we can control costs while providing that all Americans are covered. But we can’t even whisper that option without the Republicans screaming “Socialism” and the other buzz words to rile up many of the very people who would benefit from a low-cost, true health insurance. In fact, if the Republicans truly support the idea of a free-market system, they should be at the forefront of this reform.
Our system of healthcare is actually handicapping our free market economy. You need only look at the plight of our car manufacturers. The cost of healthcare is making our cars too expensive to be able to compete with the global marketplace.
Health insurance is trapping many entrepreneurs from striking out with new ideas for the marketplace because they can’t afford to risk losing their healthcare. And, if they could start a small business, the costs of health insurance might stifle that. If the backbone of this country rests on small businesses, then we should be doing all we can to encourage growth.
How many workers do you know who continue in jobs they don’t like because they can’t afford to lose the healthcare their employers provide? Do you think innovation comes from unhappy employees?
How much better might we be competing globally if we could untie healthcare from employment?
The “Socialism” argument is a tired one. The US Post Office didn’t stop Federal Express, UPS, and many other shippers from coming into the marketplace and competing with a public shipper. Our public schools don’t keep out private schools. “Increased taxes” is another buzz word. However, we already pay to cover those who don’t have insurance. That cost is spread across all those who do have coverage. The same goes for the costs of bankruptcies. 60 percent of those declaring bankruptcies today are caused by insurmountable medical bills. The banks and credit card companies don’t absorb those costs. They just pass them on to their customers in the form of hidden fees and escalating interest rates.
When are we going to demand that our Politicians stop with the hypocrisy and outright lies and actually represent what is best for this country? If you are as concerned, you need to call your Senators and your Representative and make your voice heard!
1678 Four Lakes Dr