It's almost unbelievable--when it comes to politics and money, nothing is ever entirely unbelievable--that people are working so hard to block truly meaningful health care reform. Every indication is that our current system's drain on the economy is huge, that it leaves too many people with no reasonable health care options, that the number of uninsured is growing all the time. For what is supposed to be the most developed, open, economically strong country in the world, the state of our health care is tragically poor.
One of the key elements of true reform is a public option that can compete against the private providers, pressuring them to cover more people at reasonable rates or else lose their business. The private insurers, supported by their lackeys in Congress, don't want to have to compete on any playing field except the one they have developed and control. That means the system doesn't change, they still call the shots--and those people in Congress continue to have their government-provided health care while denying a similar system to the rest of us.
As a self-employed freelancer, I know just what a big problem this is. Our health care coverage is expensive and inadequate--a potent combination--and we have it better than a lot of people.
The cost to the nation of the existing situation--underinsured people using emergency rooms as their sold health care providers, with bills going unpaid, lost productivity, a giant portion of people's income going to pay for coverage that may or may not actually cover them in the event of a serious problem, a huge proportion of bankruptcies occurring as a result of medical emergencies--mean that unless this problem is fixed our economy will never recover to the extent that it should. And yet people in Congress are standing in the way, offering up insurance industry-approved alternatives to real reform that will effectively prevent any real reform from happening.
If you feel the same way that I do, it wouldn't hurt to drop an e-mail or make a phone call to your Senators and member of Congress to let them know that you want real reform, with a public option.
Thanks for anything you can do.
UPDATE: There's a NYT/CBS poll from the weekend showing that 72% of people favor a public, government-run option like I discussed above, and would be willing to pay higher taxes to make it happen. Only 20% oppose such an option. So Americans want it, it will help the economy and help untold numbers of American families struggling with the high cost of health care, but a handful of mostly Democratic so-called centrists threaten to kill it. The Republicans have already indicated their willingness to sacrifice anything, including the public good, to sabotage the Obama administration's efforts, so they can't be counted on anyway. But Democrats deep in the pockets of insurance interests can still prevent it from happening. For all our sakes, they can't be allowed to succeed.
Here's Paul Krugman on the controversy, too.