The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Posts Tagged ‘Universal health care

Americans of a Lesser God?

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Burlington
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I came across this honest piece at the excellent Blog for Iowa.  Sounds like it was originally published in my home-town newspaper, The Burlington Hawk-Eye.  [That’s beautiful Burlington,  left, at the top.]

I had the following published in the Burlington newspaper last Saturday. I offer it here for people to use, distribute further, etc. My essay is a little long and rambling, but I have been silent too long. And we dare not lose this fight.

David Ure
Burlington, Iowa

~To what lesser God do those people who have no health care insurance belong? What sin did they commit? I have no doubt some of them have made mistakes, made bad choices, engaged in illegal or immoral activities in some instances, didn’t get themselves elected to the state house or Congress; but not all 47 million plus.

The time has come, if we are to continue to call ourselves a nation of God and faith and fairness, for every American to have health insurance. My preference is to plop everyone into Medicare whose operational costs are half to 2/3 lower than the private sector, and allow the insurance companies the opportunity to sell all of us supplemental policies as my elderly, now long-gone, relatives purchased for years.

But I won’t say it has to be this way or nothing. More than anything else, I want to see coverage in place for everyone, and for it to be there in as direct and obvious a manner as can be cobbled together. Read the rest of this entry »

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“Someone’s premiums” bought my lunch on gold-rimmed china

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Wendell Potter, former CIGNA exec, tells of the change of heart that caused him to leave the industry. While visiting family members in Tennessee, he drops in on a medical expedition, staffed by volunteers, at a Virginia fairgrounds, in a county where people have little health care access …
clipped from www.democracynow.org
I had no idea what to expect, but when I walked through the fairground gates, it was just absolutely overwhelming … [P]eople … were lined up in the rain by the hundreds … and they were being treated in animal stalls … They also had set up tents. It looked like a MASH unit. It looked like this could have been something that was happening in a war-torn country, and war refugees were there to get their care […]
It was just unbelievable, and it just drove it home to me, maybe for the first time, that we were talking about real human beings and not just numbers […]
[T]wo or three weeks later, I was [flying to a meeting] on one of the corporate jets … I was served my lunch on a gold-rimmed plate, was given gold-plated flatware […]
it just dawned on me, for the first time, that someone’s premiums … were paying for my lunch on gold-trimmed china […]
I thought about those men and women that I had seen in Wise County … not having any idea that this is the way that insurance executives lived and how premium dollars were being spent … I had to leave […]
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One dollar of every three we send to our health insurance companies goes to something other than healthcare. Those who struggle to pay high premiums to protect themselves and their children buy corporate jets, skyscraper penthouses, and fine china for insurance executives. Those who won’t, or can’t, often die prematurely.

Should we really have choose between paying for corporate luxury or risking an early death?

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Former insurance exec tells how industry threatens elected officials

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Last Friday night, Wendell Potter, former head of Corporate Communications at CIGNA, told Bill Moyers of insurance companies’ tactics, and their fear of reduced profits should a Medicare-type system be enacted by Congress.
clipped from thinkprogress.org
BILL MOYERS:  […] “Position Sicko as a threat to Democrats’ larger agenda.” What does that mean?
WENDELL POTTER: That means that part of the effort to discredit this film was to use lobbyists and their own staff to go onto Capitol Hill and say, “Look, you don’t want to believe this movie. You don’t want to talk about it. You don’t want to endorse it. And if you do, we can make things tough for you.”

BILL MOYERS: How?

WENDELL POTTER: By running ads, commercials in your home district when you’re running for reelection, not contributing to your campaigns again, or contributing to your competitor.

[Saying he thought Moore’s movie “hit the nail on the head,” Potter describes it:]

[H]is movie advocated that the government-run systems of other western democracies produce better health care outcomes […]

Potter said he was driven to speak out when “it became really clear to me that the industry is resorting to the same tactics they’ve used over the years […]
The companies “biggest concern” is … “a broader program like our Medicare program” which “could potentially reduce the profits of these big companies.”
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See part 1 of the interview here.

Indeed.  And we’ll see if our Congressmen and women will use government to further increase corporate profits or to begin to decrease the cost of healthcare to ordinary people. The industry’s spending a million dollars a day. Our only hope is in letters and letters and letters.

There’s link in the right sidebar.

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18,000 dead: The moral issues of health care

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It’s not just politics.

Jim Wallis at Sojourners describes three moral issues that live at the center of the health care debate.  Here’s an excerpt.  Read the entire article by clicking here:

The Truth

For decades now, the physical health and well-being of our country has been a proxy battle for partisan politics.

President Truman with

When Truman tried to pass a national health insurance plan, the American Medical Association spent $200 million (in today’s dollars) and was accused of violating ethics rules by having doctors lobby their patients to oppose the legislation. In the 1970’s when Nixon tried to pass a national health insurance plan, strikingly similar to what many democrats are proposing today, the plan was defeated by liberal democrats and unions who thought that they would be able to pass something themselves after the mid-term elections and claim political credit for the plan. In the 1990’s the “Harry and Louise” ads misrepresented the Clinton health care plan but was successful enough PR to shut down that movement for reform. […]

What we need is an honest and fair debate with good information, not sabotage of reform with half-truths and misinformation.* […]

Full Access

About 46 million people in our country today are uninsured and many more find themselves without adequate coverage …  Many of them are working families who live in fear of getting sick or injured. …  An estimated 18,000 people a year die unnecessarily, many from low-income families, because they lack basic health insurance. … Seeing your child sick is a horrible feeling; seeing your child sick and not having the resources to do something about it is a societal sin.

Cost

… An estimated 60 percent of bankruptcies this year will be due to medical bills. Seventy-five percent of those declaring bankruptcy as a result of medical bills have health insurance. … In the end, some are paying too much for care and others are making too much from these present arrangements. […]

… special interests groups … will be promoting their own self-interests during this process. The faith community has the opportunity to step in and speak for the interests of the common good and those who would not otherwise have a voice. I am sure that every one of the 18,000 preventable deaths that will happen this year from a lack of basic health insurance breaks the heart of God. And, it should break ours too […]

Amen to that.  People in this country are dying on our watch.   The life preservers have been kept under lock and key by special interests for a hundred years.  Profits are saved; human beings are sacrificed.

That’s a moral issue.


*As a resource for congregations, small groups, and individuals, Sojourners has worked with its partners to publish a health care tool kit [click here to download] to help frame and guide this necessary debate. This guide gives an overview of the biblical foundations of this issue and frequently asked questions about it.

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Public Option is bipartisan – everywhere but Congress

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{{w|Chuck Grassley}}, U.S. Senator from Iowa.

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Fivethirtyeight.com observes that over 50% of Republicans and 74% of Americans overall favor a strong public insurance option.  Then, an obvious conclusion: The public option has strong bipartisan support.

1/2 of Republicans and 3/4 of all Americans.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

But in the Congress, dogmatic opinions prevent such unity.

So here’s an irony:  America is in pretty good agreement.  But we can’t get our Congress to go along with us.

Matter of fact, there are threats of removing that which we want in order to gain the approval of Congressional holdouts—most notably, Iowa’s Senator Grassley (who, like most of the holdouts, is among the top recipients of health care industry contributions—Mr. Grassley is fifth among Senators).

Should we allow Congress to deny what the people overwhelmingly desire in order to please industry-funded Senators?

Write ’em.

clipped from www.fivethirtyeight.com
the two most credible surveyors of public opinion on this subject, the Kaiser Family Foundation and CBS/New York Times, have both found that at least half of self-identified Republicans favor a well-described public option.

So the question must be asked: if Barack Obama wants to conduct a bipartisan approach to universal health care, what does that mean in terms of the public option? Killing or watering down the public option in order to (maybe) attract the support of Sen. Chuck Grassley, and not much of anybody else in the congressional Republican ranks? Or maintaining it to appeal to rank-and-file Republicans, who favor it despite the views of their “leaders” and the polarized atmosphere in Washington?
ultimately, “bipartisanship” on health care may actually mean looking past congressional Republicans and pitting them against their own supporters across the country, particularly on the public option.
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“I denied a man an operation, and caused his death”

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Former Humana and Blue Cross/Blue Shield cost-cutter Dr. Linda Peeno confesses “I know how managed care kills and maims patients,” and how her salary skyrocketed when she began cutting care that patients needed.

Think this is an exception? That this isn’t how the system was meant to be? You may be surprised when the video cuts to a tape-recording from a historic White House.

clipped from www.youtube.com

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Here’s a written record of what she said in that hearing on May 30, 1996:

I wish to begin by making a public confession: In the spring of 1987, as a physician, I caused the death of a man.

Although this was known to many people, I have not been taken before any court of law or called to account for this in any professional or public forum. In fact, just the opposite occurred: I was “rewarded” for this. It bought me an improved reputation in my job, and contributed to my advancement afterwards. Not only did I demonstrate I could indeed do what was expected of me, I exemplified the “good” company doctor: I saved a half million dollars.

I contend that “managed care,” as we currently know it, is inherently unethical in its organization and operation. Furthermore, I maintain that we have an industry which can exist only through flagrant ethical violations against individuals and the public.

Some insist that health care funding is best left in the hands of private industry. I say the for-profit insurance industry is—by definition—committed to its own wealth, not to America’s health.

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Satire: Top 10 reasons to oppose universal healthcare

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singlepayer10.jpg

#6, yup. #5, uh-huh. #2, yes, that, too.

I’ve actually heard some of these pitched with a straight face—and you may find some in the comments, below.

But here’s the simple truth: Americans pay twice as much for healthcare as that paid by citizens of any other nation. For their money, they get a healthcare system ranked worse than that of more than twenty thirty-six other nations.

Now it’s not Hillary’s plan we’re talking about here – or Obama’s. No, true universal single-payer healthcare is much different, and much more efficient.

Which leads me to the reason I hear the most: “Inefficient government bureaucracy would drive prices sky-high!” Really? Think of this: Those millions of pages of paperwork doctors pass to hundreds of different private insurers—each with its own forms, deductibles, and co-pays; each advertising for its market share; each with its own unique mix of coverages—that’s more efficient?

Twenty Thirty-six other nations get better care for half as much. Have we, just maybe, been sold a pro-business bill of goods?

Take a look at Jane Bryant Quinn: Yes, We Can All Be Insured. Or Physicians for a National Healthcare Plan.

Have you seen the fellow traveling with John Edwards who couldn’t speak for the first fifty years of his life? He couldn’t afford cleft palate surgery. What kind of ruthless dogmatism is it that has persuaded us to keep private insurance at twice the cost—while 47 millions of our neighbors go without?


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Written by Monte

December 25, 2007 at 6:37 pm