The demise of universal health care as we know it

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mom-as-simpsonWhen Tom Daschle pulled his name from consideration for Health and Human Services Secretary, I had a sinking heart. It hit me on the long drive home from Arkansas last night that universal healthcare was literally being scrapped in the process. I knew it was too good to be true, when President Obama was campaigning and said he planned to make health care available for all Americans, rich or poor, employed or non, whether they were offered this at their jobs or not. 

The past eight years at my present employment, I have enjoyed watching my health insurance policy become less and less valuable. First, they changed the prescription drug rules, and the formulary, and then they did it again, year after year. And then, I realized that if I went to the local hospital (which I will not name) that was “in network,” I would pay a lot more money for my care than if I went to a clinic or hospital in Arkansas for the same service. 

“Why?” I wondered. Why would it cost me about $700 in Joplin to have my annual checkup and the usual tests, but if I went to a Doctor in Arkansas (also considered “in network”) I paid a $20 copay? 

“It’s in the coding,” I was told. “In the clinic, they do it all under the clinic coding, but if you go here they do it under the hospital code.” 

Oh. Ok, so, why would anybody in their right mind go to the clinic here? Right. Still, the rules changes and the constant premium increases made it impossible for my husband to realistically use the insurance we have at work. So, because he is on Social Security and is retired, we switched him to Medicare part B and a supplement that costs about $172 a month. Then, using Wal-Mart’s $4 prescription plans for generics (or $10 for 90 day supply), we actually save money from the $400 plus I was paying for his coverage at the office, plus he has 100 percent coverage on everything but prescription drugs. My insurance costs me nothing. Or at least it did. 

The word at work is, next year they will begin to charge us premiums for our health coverage. And, we haven’t gotten a raise for two years, and now they are saying they may cut our salaries. That would be a double negative, I believe. But it doesn’t cancel itself out. Of course, that is assuming I will have a job next year. 

I relate all this because it is fairly typical of what is happening across the nation right now; lets hope not everyone in académe is dealing with the same issues, but I’m sure they are. In the meantime, it makes the lack of anyone at the helm of H&HS a frightening thought. 

The United States is the only industrialized Western nation that does not have universal comprehensive health care for its citizens. Tom Daschle’s departure will delay it further. But what happened there? Is it possible that he was politically “assassinated” by the powers that resist a universal health care plan? Did someone working for the AMA or “Big Pharm” do the political equivalent of putting a pipe bomb in Daschle’s limo? This debate, while fresh because of Daschle, is actually nothing new. Dr. Gerry Cavanaugh of Ashland, Oregon, wrote about our national health care woes in an article that ran in the Ashland Sentient Times in 1999:

There is an economic message here obviously, economic self-interest impels these groups. But here is a “class” factor that is even stronger: American corporations would immediately benefit by having the costs of their health care taken Off the corporate books and “socialized” in a universal plan. However, the bosses would lose a powerful weapon of control over their workers if such a plan were enacted. As it is, workers have much to fear when they lose their jobs: they lose their health care coverage as well. And as it is, the bosses can hold down wages by threatening to reduce health care benefits. Actually, over the past two decades, the bosses have been doing both cutting wages and reducing benefits – but working people in general and even “organized labor” are much too weak to do much about it all.


In any case, the health care situation in the United States is serious and it is dire. It is as serious and dire as the economic situation as a whole. I’m grateful, at least, that right now we have coverage, and my husband, who is a heart patient and a cancer survivor, has coverage that ensures he is insured wherever he goes for care. But many are not so lucky. Look at these statistics recently released by the National Coalition on Health Care:

 Who are the uninsured?

  • Nearly 46 million Americans, or 18 percent of the population under the age of 65, were without health insurance in 2007, the latest government data available.
  • The number of uninsured rose 2.2 million between 2005 and 2006 and has increased by almost 8 million people since 2000.
  • The large majority of the uninsured (80 percent) are native or naturalized citizens.
  • The increase in the number of uninsured in 2006 was focused among working age adults. The percentage of working adults (18 to 64) who had no health coverage climbed from 19.7 percent in 2005 to 20.2 percent in 2006.1 Nearly 1.3 million full-time workers lost their health insurance in 2006.
  • Nearly 90 million people – about one-third of the population below the age of 65 spent a portion of either 2006 or 2007 without health coverage.
  • Over 8 in 10 uninsured people come from working families – almost 70 percent from families with one or more full-time workers and 11 percent from families with part-time workers.

Please go to the link for more:
http://www.nchc.org/facts/coverage.shtml

2 thoughts on “The demise of universal health care as we know it

  1. I AM SO ANGRY!

    Tom Daschle, and Nancy Killefer are two of the finest, and most competent public servants you could possibly hope for in these appointments. They have been assassinated by the Washington healthcare lobby through their paid Bush Republican henchmen in congress. These Bush republicans are the same people blocking the economic recovery plan put forth by the Obama administration.

    I am BURNING MAD America. And you should be too. Tome Daschle and Nancy Killefer were exactly what we needed to help turn this country around and fix our economy, and catastrophic healthcare crisis.

    If I were their boss I would tell them to get right back to Washington. And dare congress to not approve them. How ridiculous is it to reject highly qualified people that this country needs just because they made a mistake on their taxes. Don’t stand for that anymore America. They apologized, and paid their taxes, and that should be it. Their country needs them. But President Obama has to do what he thinks is best. I understand that. I’M JUST SO MAD at the anti American Bush Republicans.

    Like many of you I have been trying to enjoy the after glow of this Beautiful historic election. But I see that the republicans in congress and their cohorts aren’t going to be good sports, and LOSER’S!

    SO BE IT!

    In spite of President Obama’s repeated offers, and gestures of collegiality to Republicans. Bush Republicans have seized upon every opportunity to stab President Obama in the back. And by doing so they are stabbing you, and the rest of the American people in the back. Well, you don’t have to put up with that. And you shouldn’t put up with that. President Obama has only been on the job two weeks. And he inherited two wars, and the worst economy since the great depression.

    We had an election. And president Obama, and the democrats won BIG. And Bush Republicans lost miserably!

    The Bush Republicans are the ones responsible for the worst economic crisis since the great depression. And the Bush Republicans are responsible for the worst healthcare crisis in American history. A healthcare crisis that is killing hundreds of thousands of you every year. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Insured, and uninsured. Men, women, children, and babies.

    President Obama, and the Democrats should take back all the concessions they granted the Bush Republicans, and tell them to put up! or shut up!

    Everyone, start calling and contacting these Bush Republicans and tell them to stop blocking President Obama, and the Democrats recovery plan. And stop trying to block, and corrupt healthcare reform. Tell them to get on board with President Obama and the Democrats, or GET OUT!!

    If these Bush Republicans refuse to cooperate I want all of you to immediately begin the process of removing them from office by every legal means possible. Including impeachment, and recall. I want you to bring the full weight and power of the movement down on their heads that swept President Obama, and the Democrats into control of the whitehouse, and congress. Take no prisoners. Use all the techniques you learned over this past historic election. Be flexible, creative, adaptable, and relentless like you were in the past.

    To my cyber warriors I call on you again. You are among the best and the brightest. I call on you to move this fight from the cyber world to the living rooms, dens, and work places of the voters these Bush Republicans misrepresent. I know I can count on you. This is a fight worth fighting.

    To my fellow World citizens. As an American I invite, and welcome you and your advise, input, and help. By delaying Americas recovery, and healthcare reform, these Bush Republicans are delaying our commitment to your recovery, and to being the better America for you that we aspire too.

    I had hoped it would not come to this after our historic election. I had hoped that the Bush Republicans would respect the overpowering will of the people, and the World. But I guess not. All the Bush Republicans really care about is them-selves. Well, SO BE IT! Lets finish the job.

    Sincerely

    jacksmith — Working Class 🙂

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