Thursday, September 10, 2009

American Character

A sense of justice for the strong and security for the weak succinctly paraphrases how Mark Shields, Syndicated Columnist, described the health care plan philosophic focus of President Obama’s address to the Joint Session of the U.S. Congress 9/9/09. This concept is a fundamental aspect of the American character as noted by the President who cited for this view supportive historical references including an account of how Medicare was established.

The President noted that too much government is as dangerous as too little government. The implication is that this needed health care change falls within a safe range for government involvement and would not tip that precarious balance.

There have been many lies and distortions about what health care bill changes will and will not do in an effort to scuttle the program but President Obama effectively explained the truth in each instance. He appropriately chastised those who so deliberately put forth such falsehoods. The failure of those select guilty Congresspersons to react and to instead just sit on their hands speaks volumes about their morals and humanity as others around them applauded. Voters would be wise to identify them and seek to make certain they’re never reelected to office again. That might also be a good action for constituents of Joe Wilson of South Carolina who was so disrespectful shouting out during the President’s speech. He has reportedly since apologized.

President Obama stated to all present that “…we didn’t come to fear the future, we came to shape it.” This was a strong admonishment for our Congress to finally take some action on health care reform. Considering 56 years have passed since the first healthcare bill was introduced in 1943, the fact our current system is unsustainable, the time for change is now.

The rebuttal by Dr. Chas. Boustany, Republican of Louisiana, stated this health care plan would not lower costs and quality of care would decrease. He decried this plan would result in 53 new government bureaus and 500 billion in Medicare cuts. The implication was health care rationing would be implemented under this new plan.

Well, I’m a health care worker, too, and I see how the system works. Costs are not lowering now. They’re going up and up with quality of care decreasing. If in doubt do a search on how our health care system compares with those in other countries. If, as he mentioned, any new government bureaus are needed we might well expect them to function similarly to Medicare which has proven to be quite cost effective compared with health insurance companies. Of course, if even some of those alleged bureaus could be incorporated into the Medicare system it just might be even more cost effective.

Regarding the Dr.’s reference to Medicare cuts, they have continued to be made for quite a few years now and may continue from necessity if the health care status quo continues. I think the ideal plan is a single payer plan but many lies have been told about how that would be. Consequently mindless fear has run rampant resulting in that plan no longer being an option, apparently. I didn’t hear him mention the possibility of displacing the health insurance companies as a cost saving measure. When you think about all the insurance people there are between the patient and the health care provider who take portions of the health care dollar, it’s no wonder health care costs are so high. Think of all the health care workers freed up to practice medicine and alleviate shortages -- doctors and nurses, possibly other office type workers.

I do have a very real concern that more significant Medicare cuts will occur IF a public insurance option is not in any new health care plan. The expected result with a public insurance option is that health insurance companies will have to be competitive so will finally reduce their costs somewhat. Insurance companies do have a vested interest to their shareholders, Wall St. and executive salaries to have all citizens be required to purchase insurance. You can be certain they look forward to making money on this action. Yet, what do we hear about – need to reduce payments to doctors, possibly other care providers, lower reimbursements to hospitals.

Ever since I gagged on hearing health insurance officials declare early this year they would cuts costs I’ve wondered why they haven’t done this before and exactly what costs would be cut. I know they named some cost cutting areas but with no mention of patients directly reaping the consequences through cuts in care. I suggest they’ve been doing that for years and will likely continue with their practice of cutting patient care and possibly ramping it up. Can’t we consider that to be “rationing?” Just think we’ve had rationing all along but health insurer reformer opponents would have us believe we’ll only get it if we change our current system. Are we really so poorly informed we believe them?

If we truly want to reduce health care costs, then ideas such as others have suggested in recent years would need to be adopted. The government engaging in drug price negotiations with pharmaceutical companies for large bulk purchasing would be one such cost reduction idea. Another such cut should be eliminating the bonanza flat payment that insurers receive for those who sign over their Medicare coverage to the insurer. Financial data show that payment to provide excessive profits for insurers at taxpayers expense.

American character again comes to mind. I hope it’s not greed disguised as legitimate profiteering. Why do so many business people, companies and large corporations, including health care, justify immoral actions because “it’s just business?” Haven’t they learned anything from the recent financial debacle from which we have not yet completely extricated ourselves?

Have these business people, stock holders and congressional persons who claim to represent “the people – you and me” no compassion for the rest of us? What about the little verse most of us learned as children, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Do any of them take that seriously and practice the sentiment?
They don’t even want to give all our citizens what we’ve given them – excellent free health care coverage. Unlike many citizens, most congress people could likely pay out of pocket for their own health care. There's a cost savings for them to enact.

I think we’re long past due for obstinate ideological positions to be set aside and focus given to practical solutions to a long standing problem that is only going to become worse if no action is taken. Some bipartisan health care changes desperately need to be taken based on rational reasonable choices made with compassion. A public insurance option needs to be part of any plan offered since that seems to be the only choice left to us presently.


  1. Oh Jo Ann, this is just wonderful. I posted on Obama's speech also, but am tempted to go take it off my blog because yours is so well written and done with such civility that I am sorry that I used the words 'whackos' and 'idiots' on my post.

    Thank you for saying it so well and with such class. Of course, I agree with everything you said.

  2.'ve said it all...beautifully. This was a wonderful post.

  3. Good post and I agree with what you said. I just wish the right would stop being partisan and start being the patriots they claim to be.

  4. I guess I was a little over the top in my comments on my blog. But I truly think the rest of the country has carried the South too long.

  5. Thanks to all: You've each written some pretty good pieces on this health care topic. Think we need to continue and maybe even pursue getting wider media exposure.

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