Archive for August, 2009

Thou Shalt Not Kill

Monday, August 31st, 2009

What started out to be discussion over badly needed healthcare reform has been quickly transformed to an attempt to replay the November election.

One need look no further than the groups that support healthcare reform and those that oppose it.

Those that support it include every industry organization – insurance, hospitals, physicians, and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Even patients represented by organizations like the AARP support reform. Finally most all the groups that supported President Obama in the last election also support healthcare reform.

The primary opposition is the Republican Party. Their motivation is obvious. It is an opportunity to regain the political advantage. They have gone so far as to say that defeating healthcare would be Obama’s Waterloo. Their tactics are not much different than they were last November. Rather than engage in an honest debate about alternatives, they attack the President’s trustworthiness. Unbiased sites like factcheck.org and politifact.org document the lies, but the polls show the strategy is working.

In lockstep with the Republican Party are Fox News, IBD, Rush Limbaugh, and other right wing media talking heads. Their motivation is simple – money. They feed on hate. They create an “us versus them” mob mentality and chuckle all the way to the bank. When Glen Beck claims that a mixed race man raised by his white grandparents is a racist, he gains viewers from those who fear African Americans. When Fox supports Tea Parties and disrupting public meetings, those who participate get on TV and Fox becomes the #1 news network. When Rush said he hopes the President fails, he becomes the voice of the Republican party. When he claims the President will mandate circumcision, his ratings go up. Reasonable people shake their heads, but the twenty percent or so of those who hate President Obama get all that more radicalized and empowered to act.

Those opposed to abortion have joined in. They continue to beat their drum has hard as they can. Fox and the Republican party give them a platform. The healthcare bills present another opportunity for this group to lobby to change the laws. Even though current government coverage allows payment for abortion in the case of rape, incest, or the maternal health; they object to even this coverage in any future bill.

Finally, there are the right wing special interest groups who have used the Obama presidency as an opportunity to increase their fund raising and membership. Gun sales have risen dramatically since November. People are now taking guns to the sites of Presidential speeches.

The only thing that all of these groups can agree on is their hate of our President. They are being manipulated by those who seek political or monetary gain. They gain comfort from those who share their views. They are not talking to those who disagree with them. It has gone so far that clergy are now encouraging their members to pray for Obama’s death.

This has to stop.

Just as Bill O’Reilly bears responsibility for his part in the murder of the physician he called a “baby killer”, those who preach hate for our President bear the responsibility for his wellbeing. They may not be the ones who pull the trigger, but they help load the gun when they demonize President Obama.

Those who encourage this behavior are trying to dismantle our democracy for their own personal gain. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Healthcare Scare

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

There is a lot of misinformation being circulated as part of the current healthcare debate.

In order to have a healthy debate about the issues, you have to start with some agreed facts.

1.Healthcare costs are growing faster than the economy. Both government and private industry are near the limits of what they can pay. As a result, those who have coverage are paying more for less and the ranks of the uninsured have grown dramatically.

2.Our healthcare system is the most expensive in the world but our population ranks near the bottom of industrialized countries in most health measures. In other words, other countries have figured out how to get better outcomes for less money than what we spend. That puts our country and our industries at a significant competitive disadvantage.

3.Every other industrialized country in the world that ranks higher than us provides some form of universal coverage. Those countries with the healthiest populations focus on prevention of problems while our system focuses on treatment of disease.

The current healthcare system in unsustainable. The uninsured end up receiving care in hospital emergency rooms which is the most expensive care our system can provide. Those costs end up getting passed on to the rest of us through higher insurance premiums and taxes. The baby boomer generation is going to bankrupt the medicare system in the next ten years or so.

Status quo is not an option, yet those who oppose proposed changes to the current system have not offered alternatives. Instead, they are spreading fear and doubt in an effort to defeat ANY change. You have to ask yourself why that is, but I can tell you that it has nothing to do with patriotism and everything to do with profit.

Here are some examples of misinformation.

Illegal aliens will receive free health care. – FALSE

A Healthcare Commissioner will decide health benefits for you. – FALSE

The government will fund abortions. – FALSE

The government will force abortions and put sterilants in drinking water – FALSE

The health care reform bill “would make it mandatory — absolutely require — that every five years people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner.” – FALSE

The healthcare reform bill outlaws private insurance – FALSE

Under a public health care option, 120 million Americans will “lose what they now get from private companies and be forced onto the government-run rolls as businesses decide it is more cost-effective for them to drop coverage.” – FALSE

“Under the Obama plan . . . all the health care in this country is eventually going to be run by the government.” – FALSE

In order to bring down costs we have to do a couple of simple things.

1.Everyone has to have access to affordable preventative care. The rest of the industrialized world has proven that this works to bring down the cost of care and improve the overall health of the population.

2.Provide physicians incentives to adopt new technology which makes it easier to share patient information between all caregivers. Other countries have also proven that this improves care and reduces cost.

3.Reward those who make choices which reduce their costs of care. The government can’t force anyone to be responsible, but it can provide incentives for those who are willing to make lifestyle choices which reduce their need to use the healthcare system. The healthiest industrialized populations have healthcare systems which focus on prevention rather than treatment.

The government doesn’t have to control the healthcare system. It just has to provide an alternative for those who can’t get coverage through the private system. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It only has to transfer care from the emergency room to the examining room to be successful.

The government doesn’t have to control patient information either. It just has to provide the rules and oversight that make sure that the taxpayer’s investments deliver the expected results.

Finally the government doesn’t have to dictate individual behavior. But just like determining what speeds get the most cars down the road with the fewest accidents, it can reduce the cost of care for everyone by providing information on how to prevent disease and rewarding those who choose healthier lifestyles.