The Northern Way
pblackwell, Wed, July 1st, 2009
Today is, of course, Canada Day. If they did it like us, they'd call it the First of July, but they actually notice that other countries have July 1 on their calendars, too. We could take note of that on our Independence Day...
Something else, too. Canada's citizens are born with health care, and keep it until they die. They have come to regard it as a fundamental right - as have most other highly-developed countries. There are hang-ups (as there is with every other system), but no one is turned down because of cost, pre-existing conditions or other fictions.
There are so many things to be proud of in America - but a health-care system that shuts out at least 45 million (and growing) and makes it far too expensive for most of the others is not a point of pride.
Ever since FDR, our leaders have attempted to correct that problem, only to be shouted down by various forms of rich and powerful interests - doctors, insurance companies, drug companies - using scare terms like "socialized medicine".
All the while, premiums have doubled in 10 years and 62 percent of individual bankruptcies result from an inability to pay obscene medical bills. I could repeat the horror stories, but I'm not Tolstoy.
So now the cycle repeats itself - Barack Obama, like FDR and Truman and LBJ and Nixon and Clinton before him, is trying to introduce the "public option" so that every American can be covered. Naturally, the opposing interests are doing everything imaginable to stand in the way.
What are they afraid of? Competition? Actually having to earn the business of consumers, rather than shaking them down?
We ignored this for too long, and it will no doubt be expensive. Then again, the Medicare and Social Security funds will run out within 20 years, and we don't want to see that, right?
Yes, those that have good insurance and good doctors should keep what they have. But to them, I would say - wouldn't it be nice if that coverage was more affordable? Wouldn't it be helpful if doctors could practice without having to worry about (1) malpractice suits or (2) HMO bean counters who put profit above patients?
Just today, a big turnabout - the new head of the American Medical Association, who has long opposed just about any health-care reform in this country, said he's open to a public option, that folks should, at the least, have the same kind of health-care plan that members of Congress get. That was exactly the argument the president has been making, going back to his campaign days.
Those that oppose reform often claim that our health-care system is the best in the world. Yeah - only if you can afford it.
May we soon find the day where our actions back up our boastful words so that, like our friends to the north celebrating their 142nd birthday today, people can never have to worry about going without health insurance....