Monday, August 17, 2009

A Case for a Public Option: Take Action Today, Demand Action

Today's health care system is broken. It is designed such that at least 15,000,000 Americans will be without health care, even at its best. Today, we know that number to be more like 47,000,000 Americans and rising. That number was calculated when unemployment was at 5%, not at 9.5%. It is surely much higher now.

Some can find excuses for why that number is so high, but they do not deny the number itself. And they do not deny it is rising.

We also know that about 50,000,000 more are underinsured. That means that their insurance does not cover many illnesses that they will need it for, and it does not cover their care adequately in an affordable way. In other words, some may risk home, retirement, and any chance to live above the poverty level to simply stay alive.

None of that even begins to deal with the tens of millions of Americans who lose their health insurance when they lose their job, whether due to job loss, job change, or simply because illness won't let them work anymore, nor having the insurance company drop them or their company due to having too many illnesses.

My brother in law may very well be one of the fully insured that loses his insurance due to an illness that costs him his job. What are these people to do when not only they, but their entire families lose their insurance because of an illness like cancer or worse?

The question on health care is not whether or not there should be a public option. There is no doubt that it MUST have a public option to offset the "Death Panels" of private insurance that deny even evaluation testing as "too expensive" when they know there already exists a potentially deadly illness, but determine it is too expensive to find out what it is, or to even begin to attempt to cure it. We have already put a price on a life, and it is through companies like Aetna and their "bottom line."

The question is what is driving so many to avoid a public option. For some, it may be some fear of a mythical socialism, a line that we long ago passed when we started using government contracts to subsidies every major industry that exists in America today. We will not ever find our way to communism, it would be a folly to try. And it is a folly to dictate all possible market answers. But in some cases, it is vital that we do as a nation.

We owe a lot not just to ourselves for getting here, but to everyone here who has come before us, and to those who come along side us, and to those who will come after us. We owe it to our society to maintain ourselves, but also to maintain each other. We cannot support each and every part of every person's life, but we must maintain the hope, the possibility, and the practicality of the American Dream.

That means we must insure that every American has the possibility of a world class education, not simply the language of one without the backing of actual funding and proclaiming manipulated tests show we have improved while we have enormous drop out rates to boost average scores.

That means we must insure that every American has the possibility of the world class health care system that has been financed on the backs of taxpayers through tax credits and direct financing of those medical industries such as pharmaceuticals. We have already paid for the best medical technology in the world, the question is when will we receive its care?

It is true, we must pay for it. And we must do things like cut token, pet projects that allow members of Congress to be remembered forever because they financed a building in their own names; or obscure museums; or roads to no where; or defense projects that are so beyond wasteful that it should make us cry. That is not to say there is not legitimate government spending on the arts, or important building needs, or specific highways, or key defense projects; there are absolutely legitimate projects. However, there is no doubt that there are hundreds of billions of wasted funds in a three trillion dollar federal budget.

We owe it to ourselves to insist that we get what we deserve, what we paid for: a public option to health care for all Americans. Write your Congressman and Senators daily. Write them in emails, in letters, and give them calls. Don't just do it once or twice, do it every single day until we receive it. Demand, whether they are Republican or Democrat, that they give you a public option for health care.

Our lives depend on it. The American Dream depends on it.

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