Friday, September 18, 2009

Being for the Public Option

The public option, or something very similar to it--I don't care what it's called only what it does-- is necessary as a means for small businesses, the working class, and the poor to purchase health care insurance. It is also necessary as a means for private cost control for those already with insurance that will increasingly be unable to pay due to expediential increases in premimum rates. To my surprise Bill O'Reilly of Fox News is also for a public option.

An exceptionally staunch conservative wealthy friend and I were at dinner last night. He's an American was born in Canada but has spent most of his life in the US. He's in his late 40's. Three years ago his mother, who had moved back to Canada much later in life, got pancreatic cancer. Because he was more comfortable with the care here he insisted that she come back for treatment. She did and is in good health. Thank God.

I had heard the story before but last night at dinner as we debated health care, he retold the story in great detail, reliving the horror he and his siblings faced. He is incredibly proud to be an American and is eternally grateful for the care his mother received. Being such a staunch conservative and so concerned about the deficit, perhaps one would perhaps have thought that he would have paid for her health care bills. A suggestion was made during one of the town halls by a conservataive representative that neighbors, let alone family members, should care for one another. The embodies the notion of being our brother keeper he said to a woman in wheelchair. This was incredibly altruistic.

The wheel-chaired bound woman spoke of the increasingly difficult time she was having paying for her meds, while the representative spoke of being our brother’s keeper as if a block club bake sale or yard sale or maybe even a lemonade stand, could pay for the likes of three major surgeries when a very wealthy son depended on the government to care for his beloved mother. My friend’s mother is on Medicare and a Medicare supplement that saved her life. She's 78 and beautiful.

As he spoke in tears of his mother's care, he derided government ran healthcare. I stopped him in his tracks and asked one question: "Who paid for the cancer surgeries and care for your mother?" His tears dried up and there was a seriousness on his face that was unexplainable. It was like he had not even thought of that. Are many of us simply deluded in some areas? The federal government paid for his mother's treatment. Medicare and its supplements are government ran programs. What part of this does my very good astute wealthy friend not understand? What part of this do the many raging over 65-plus crowds at town hall meetings and rallies railing about the lack of government intervention in health care not understand?

Why not offer a program for others that allows them to buy health care at an affordable rate, obviously private insurance will not allow this, and subsidize those who can't afford health care insurance? For me, this is a national security issue, as in the security of our people to live healthy productive lives and the health of our nation to move forward.


zorro said...

Recently Mario Bartiromo was moderating a panel concerning health care. One of the panelists was a 44 year old congressman and to make a point (I'm not sure what point) Bartiromo said to the congressman 'If medicare is so great, why aren't you on it?".
Of course it made no sense, but I think it is similar to the idea you discussed that many intellegent people don't seem to realize that Medicare is single payer health care. Conservatives seem to be wedded to principles (like government can't do anything right) to such a degree that they will almost subconciously ignore facts that put their priciples into dispute.

Judith Ellis said...

Talk to me Zorro. In another post you said that the public option was "silly" if I'm remembering correctly. Help me understand, my thoughtful friend. By the way, government does a lot right. But it is the responsiblity of the people to see that it get better. We are the government. So when it fails, we have failed. But the good thing about it if we are willing we can turn things around again. I am not so much wedded to ideology as I am to whatever works after much analysis.

Marion said...

My 80 year old mother is on Medicare and Medicaid and earlier this year she had heart surgery and it saved her life. I have no qualms with a public option. My only hope is that it will be made affordable.

The only thing I've heard (I listen mostly to NPR News) that has greatly disturbed me is that the government will FINE people who do not buy health insurance. This seems intrusive of our privacy and somehow not right. It bothers the hell out of me.

Thanks for another informative post, Judith. Blessings!

Judith Ellis said...

Marion - To my knowledge the fine is like if you drive your care irresponsibly without getting insurance. If someone hits you without insurance what is your recourse? If you get sick or have an accident and there is affordable insurance available for you and you choose not to get it, should everyone else have to pay for your irresponsibility in the emergency room when affordable insurance was available to you? Not being able to afford it and being irresponible are two different things as I see it. How about you? But I agree that it will have to be various rates that will enable everyone to be insured and, of course, there need to be a plan for parents with kids that are too poor to purchase health care insurance. I believe in many states this is already offered. Although, here in Michigan with the economy as bad as it is the state is having difficulty in matching the federal fund. I imagine many other states are having difficulty too.

Marion said...

My family can't afford one more bill at this point in our life. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we are living well below the poverty level on a fixed income. But we've worked extremely hard all our lives (my husband at one point worked 3 jobs at once for years) and we've paid off our home and vehicles (and have paid and will pay till we're dead what seems a small fortune to insure them both). We have a small amount of money in a retirement account, but we're too young to access it without penalties.

I'm wondering how they'll calculate if a person can afford the insurance. Will my home and small retirement account be considered assets? I just have so many questions, as I'm sure the average American does. I think many folks are just wanting answers to simple questions like mine and are afraid of 'big government'.

I do agree we need some type of affordable health care. I appreciate your input and it does help me understand parts of it better. Thanks, Judith. Blessings!

Bob Foster said...

Judith – In reading and listening to many comments by people in the media, there seems to be a misconception that Medicare is a “free” healthcare program for those over 65. Here’s the reality:

I have a friend who is 75 and in good health. This friend has an income of $705 per month from social security—her only personal income. Her Medicare benefits are composed of Part B (health insurance), Part D (drug coverage), and Supplemental insurance that covers (sometimes) about 20% of Medicare approved healthcare costs (no dental or eye care coverage). For Medicare healthcare coverage, this person pays out $406 per month in premiums (58% of her income). Of course, this is far lower than what a 75 year old person would have to pay for an individual policy with a private insurance carrier. But, the point is; government run Medicare is not free.

Spend some time in the emergency room of a hospital that is near retirement neighborhoods, and see how many elder people (over 65) are there for care, because they cannot afford the supplemental insurance premiums.

Having said all this, I agree with you completely that we must have some form of public option healthcare (whatever they choose to call it). Medicare, for all its shortcomings, is still a proven system of delivering healthcare, and there is no reason that a similar program could not work for all citizens.

Cost, on the other hand, is a hurdle that may be impossible to get over in the current attempt at healthcare reform.

Judith Ellis said...

Marion - Many blessings to you and yours. I sincerely do not have all the answers. But I'm afraid that nothing is free. If one is of able body and mind (not committed to an institution of sorts) something has to be put out if you want to be covered.

The idea behind Medicare and Medicaid is that if you have worked or contributed to society for over 64 years during year 65 life gives you a break. But, of course, even those who have not worked are automatically enrolled but something has to be given or paid into.

For those who can't afford one dollar, perhaps there are charities or other means by which these can be guaranteed affordable health care. I suppose that there will always be a percentage of people that will not be covered but not turned away at emergency facilities in case of an emergency.

It is my belief that everyone needs to pay into our system. Nothing is free. Somebody pays. I'm wishing for BETTER coverage with this bill. If we have more affordable health care, less than private insurance, maybe then others will be more able to assist those who TRULY can't give one bill.

For example, I would be willing to assist my brother or sister in this respect for such care, but would be unable to assist at the rate of private insurance. If one is able to do this and prove that such is being done for this purpose via a non-profit organization and given a tax break, maybe this will be helpful.

All the best Marion.

Judith Ellis said...

Great point, Bob. But, of course, as you pointed out something is paid into Medicare which is much less than private insurance. If the some 47 million without it and those who fear that they could lose their jobs at any minute can purchase such this would be good. This is what I'm desiring with health care reform.

The idea that there are many seniors in emergency rooms is sincerely disheartening. $700 monthly with today's cost of living doesn't seem like much.

Do you suppose many seniors are also using their fixed income to support their non-working children and grandchildren? I also think at that age a little enjoyment of life is important. I just now thinking of all those people who lost their life savings investing with Madoff and Sanford. What will they now do?

By cost do you mean a set fee structure as in a range per income and input or cost as in increasing the deficit to pay for the program?

zorro said...

Krugman expresses how I feel about health care better than I can.
I'm not against the public option, but I don't think an all or nothing approach makes sense. A good bill might not have the public option. There are countries (Krugman points to Switzerland and the Netherlands) that have programs that are mainly private but everyone is covered. The big argument against the public option, which is hard to refute, is that it will be a slippery slope to single payer. Single payer is fine with me, but it would mean that health care insurance companies would eventually go out of business (fine with me) - but then, I don't work for a health care company.
But if you listen to Republicans carefully, they seem to be against any kind of regulation of the insurance industry - they are against the Baucus plan - even though it does not include a public option. I stole the 'silly' argument from Jonathan Alter - he is far from a Conservative - - According to Krugman (a column from a week or so ago) - Nixon had a health care plan similar to the one Baucus has now - and Ted Kennedy killed it - I bet if Nixon's plan had been passed in 1972, by now we'd have something like the Progessives want now -

It would be silly to vote against
health care reform solely because the plan did not have a public option.

Judith Ellis said...

Got it, Zorro. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I haven't read the Baucus bill, but I would like to. Is it online? I imagine that there will be many amendments and changes to it before it gets to the president;s desk. I also know of the Nixon plan without having read it either. I'll read the Krugman's article. Thanks for the link. I know Alter and he's a rational thinker, pretty down the middle from what I've read and heard.

Just was listening to Countdown and heard the themes of some conservative summit. It is just absolutely amazing the topics at this event like "Thugocracy." This is obviously a racist theme. The Republican party seems to have played this kind of politics for so long that they simply do not know how to do anything else. What they also seem to forget is that Obama has a white mother and was raised by his white grandparents whom he adores.

zorro said...

I have written about this before, but it should be engraved on anything that is named after Ronald Reagan. He kicked off his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi (the town where civil rights workers were killed in the early 1960's) in a park in that town known for holding large KKK rallys. That could not have been just a coinicidence. What we are seeing in the Republican right is just an extention of what the Gipper started.
A poll was done in New Jersey -
61% of the Republicans in that state believe that Obama may not be a US citizen. To me, there is an element of racism in this -
What is ironic about racism is that it hurts working class white people as much as African Americans - because of racism, working class whites vote against thier own interests.

Judith Ellis said...

"What is ironic about racism is that it hurts working class white people as much as African Americans - because of racism, working class whites vote against thier own interests."

Zorro - This is so true.

Are you sure about that 61%?

zorro said...

The 61% was reported on MSNBC last week -
The other stat they gave was
that 30% of same population of Republicans thought it was possible that Obama could be the anti-Christ. This is kind of a wierd question to ask in a poll and so people may not give a serious response, so I don't trust it.

Judith Ellis said...

Okay, Zorro. WOW! Regarding the anti-Christ question, it was probably indeed asked and answered seriously as there are many fundamental Christians who believe the in anti-Christ as a sign of the end times. For that 30% President Obama would be the anti-Christ and the world is ending soon. When Fox News asked the fundamentalist pastor John Hagee out of Texas if President Obama was the anti-Christ. He said "no." Whew! :-) The question was probably a means to distinguish fundamentalists who are typically members of the "religious right."