Columns 2009

Health care for all

Americans can sometimes seem to be quite a contradictory group. Or at least, certain segments of the population are.  For instance, the segment that purports to represent the Moral Majority seems to have as much trouble as other political parties in knowing when to keep their pants zipped. Those same Americans who brandished guns and American flags after 9/11, bragging that those terrorists had met their match when they took on America, seem to be some of the same people squealing with fear over the idea of some Gitmo detainees being brought to America. We’re apparently that scared of them despite the fact that we are the most heavily armed nation in the world.

But I think the contradictions really start to make me nuts when politicians, who receive health care through a government run program, tell the general public that there is no way the government can run a health care program.  Yet I don’t hear these politicians requesting to bow out of their government health insurance program in favor of a tax credit or voucher program for themselves and their families. They’d have a lot more respect from me if they did. As it is, they seem to represent insurance companies and not the average uninsured American for whom a tax credit is meaningless because they make so little money they could never afford the insurance premium for themselves and their families.

People tell me that health insurance is a complicated issue and I simply don’t understand what a costly disaster it would be to provide health care for all Americans. Usually the people telling me this have health insurance through their employers and have never had to face the choice between a medical visit or groceries because they couldn’t afford both.

I just don’t think the basic issue of health care coverage is all that complicated. For goodness sakes, France has figured it out. England, Sweden, Norway… the list goes on and on. And just about every country on that list enjoys a standard of healthy living that puts us to shame when we look at statistics on everything from infant and maternal mortality to elder care.

We hear a lot from politicians and others about the nightmare of a government run health insurance program. The DMV is usually used as a classic example of the kind of service one could expect. First of all, the DMV is a state run agency. And secondly, the last few times I’ve been there, I haven’t had time to even read one story in my magazine before my number was called. So service there wasn’t all that bad.

We trust the federal government to handle nuclear weapons and our entire national defense yet somehow are supposed to believe that same government couldn’t handle a health insurance program. Does that make any sense to anyone? The federal government runs a little program called the IRS. Ever heard of it? Try cheating on your taxes or not paying them at all. Find out just how efficient the feds can be when they want.

The other argument made is that in a government run health care system, you would have to wait months for an appointment. Well, guess what folks. If you’re sick and don’t have health care, you’re don’t have to wait for an appointment because you can’t afford one. I’d rather be in the wait line.

Government funded health care may not be the ideal solution, but I have yet to see an ideal solution proposed. Meanwhile, it beats heck out of waiting until you have to go to the emergency room and have you leg amputated due to uncontrolled diabetes because you couldn’t afford the cost of a doctor’s visit.

The bottom line is that it seems to be the people with private health insurance who are the most vocal about not needing a government program for the millions of working Americans who make too much to quality for Medicaid and two little to buy insurance on their own. Until all those senators and representatives who now receive health care insurance through the federal government voluntarily give it up and accept a voucher or tax credit instead, they have no credibility with me. And they shouldn’t have any with you either.