Sunday, August 16, 2009

"We Have Talked The Problem To Death" (guest essay)

Editor's note: During the current health care debate, Canada's national health insurance program known as medicare has come under attack from opponents of real reform. The program provides health insurance to all Canadians and does so quite a bit less expensively per capita than our own system. Quite a bit of misinformation and outright lies have been told about the Canadian medicare system. A local businessman, who actually lived in Canada and knows the system first hand, shares his thoughts about how the Canadian system really works.


"We Have Talked The Problem To Death"
by Matt Funiciello

Regarding health insurance reform, Barack Obama was quoted today as saying, "We have talked this problem to death." It's enough to make a reasonably-informed, active citizen run screaming into the woods.

As someone without health insurance, as someone who spent more than a dozen school years living in Canada with its fantastic health care system, and as a small business owner tasked with providing HMO coverage for my fellow employees, I am very upset at this latest betrayal by the Democratic Party and its leadership. If I was a Democrat or if I had voted for Obama, I would be absolutely enraged! He is touting mandatory, overpriced heath insurance in place of meaningful, universal health care reform.

The folks who run the faux-left corporate lobby group known as the Democratic Party are now responsible for all kinds of terrible policies, both foreign and domestic and they simply can't blame Bush anymore. For Obama to now pretend that he and his party care about the 100 million Americans who lack appropriate access to health care transcends the corrupt and enters the realm of the criminal. Lack of access health care kills 22,000 people in this country every year. That’s seven and a half 9/11s! Think about that. Let that sink in for a moment.

I have written about the answer to this problem frequently. I have spoken at rallies in support of what I know to be the right answer. I have supported political candidates who support that answer and would use it to save 22,000 American lives every single year (along with barrels of money).

The "answer" I am referring to is Single-Payer Health Care (Improved Medicare For All - H.R. 676). Every American would be completely covered and it would actually cost less than we are already spending for unconscionably bad, non-universal, heath insurance. There are currently 50 million Americans totally without health insurance but there are also 40-50 million more who are considered "undercovered." Our profit-driven, criminal, health care system is currently ranked 38th in the world.

Canada has a single-payer system and they don’t have any cases of people losing their homes due to medical bills... because there are no medical bills. Progressive taxation pays all the costs.

Canadians don’t build two hospitals ten miles apart from each other in small towns and then wonder why their health care costs are so high. They build and support one hospital and figure out how to most effectively transport patients to said hospital. It' a system based entirely on patient care and efficiency, not on profit.

Canadians live THREE YEARS longer than we do! If their system is so damned terrible (as Fox TV and the NY Times tell us on an almost daily basis), how is it possible that they are healthier than we are? How could their infant mortality rate be almost half what ours is?

In Canada, no one waits 3 hours to have a broken arm looked at nor do they wait ridiculously long periods for necessary surgeries. The insurance companies and the corporate media are LYING TO US. They are LIARS! It's really just that simple. They are keeping as much as 35 cents of every single one of your health care dollars for themselves. If profit margins are a corporation's sole motivation, 35% of the 2 TRILLION dollars spent annually on health care would be a fairly compelling reason to lie, wouldn't it?

There is no profit in Canadian health care. This means that while doctors and nurses make a good living there, they are, by and large, people truly motivated to help their patients, first and foremost. Although their are many doctors who play golf in Canada, I would hazard a guess that very few Canadian doctors go into medicine specifically to support their golf habit. I actually know doctors here for whom golf is the center of their existence rather than the healing arts.

Collectively, Americans spend about $7900 per person per year on health care (private insurance, private bills, Medicare and other subsidized programs). Eliminating all that redundancy and removing profit from the equation allows Canadians to save about $2300 per person while covering EVERY single Canadian. Again, our system leaves about 100 million people in fear that if something goes wrong with a family member's health, they may go bankrupt (and they should be scared because it happens every single day and often to people who think they're more than adequately covered).

I know the popular mythology, oft-repeated, is that Slick Willy (Bill Clinton) and his wife, Hillary, tried "really, really, really hard" to get us real health care back in 1994 but we "just weren’t ready for it as a country."

We really need to stop supporting this kind of nonsensical propaganda. If Bill Clinton had really wanted to pass a national health care plan, he would have done exactly that. He had no more excuse then than Obama has now. To so clearly ignore what a majority of Americans so clearly want is, again, for lack of a better word, criminal.

Clinton had a Democratic congress and the American people behind him and instead of championing the very issue that most likely got him elected, he withdrew from it entirely and left his wife, who had never held a political office, to "fight" for this much-needed change all by her lonesome.

Mrs. Clinton got some great television exposure, playing the role perfectly of proud defender of the people and gaining national attention. Then, just as if everyone inside the beltway knew it was pre-ordained, Congress refused to pass it and it just "went away" for 15 years.

Bill Clinton then went on to do more long-term damage to our economy than, perhaps, any other president in American history. He passed NAFTA, selling our manufacturing base to China, India and Mexico for about twelve dollars and sixty three cents. We will likely never recover and, for this, the Democrats love him and speak nostalgically of the "Clinton era."

Later, when Hillary ran for Senate, she had strangely become the darling of the very same HMOs and the pharmaceutical industry that she had so bravely "fought" earlier on. They supported her campaign with historic levels of donation. Those who refuse to see that the Clintons played us all like a violin are just being willfully ignorant because that's precisely what they did.

The same is true with Barack Obama today. This totally fake progressive (who has far more in common with George Bush Jr. than with JFK) comes to the and says, "We’ve talked this problem to death."

While we may well have talked the "problem"to death, Obama and his ilk have refused to even mention once the "answer" that would resolve the problem instantly.

The insurance companies have invaded Washington in massive numbers, spreading their propaganda like evil seed and infecting our "leaders" with the kind of weak will that only sizable donations can secure. When single-payer advocates arrived at the hearings on health care reform asking why single-payer was not even being discussed, Obama’s idiot henchman, Senator Max Baucus, had them all arrested.

This is "progressive" politics? This is "socialism"? Lets call it "corporatism" instead because that’s exactly what it is. There are few better examples out there of our puppets and puppet-masters at work than our government's absolute insistence, not even discussing the health care answer a clear majority of Americans say they want to see made into policy.

For Obama to say that we’ve "talked it to death" is the worst kind of lie. It is reminiscent to me of Gee Dubya’s "You’re either with us or against us!" rhetoric. It is to suggest that we have exhausted all possibilities and that it is time for action when, in fact, one terrible plan is being sold at the expense of altruism, health and sanity.

Obama’s corporate health care plan will simply force every American to buy bad, overpriced, insurance from the very same weasels who engineered the criminal health care nightmare we currently call "a system." The parallels between this and our bailouts of all of the "financial wizards" who brought us "Depression Part II" are simply astounding.

But, I am not mad at Barack Obama. I knew he was a total sellout from the moment the Democrats gave him that national TV spotlight in 2004.

I am mad instead at all the Democrats who lied to us, promising that they would "hold Obama’s feet to the fire."

They told us that while Obama was far less than ideal as a candidate and that he was far too corporate to be real that we all needed to "Wait. Just wait. Give him a chance. You’ll see. We can do things with him in office. We can move him. We can do it! You’ll see. This is a movement for change."

Where did you all go?

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