We elected Barack Obama to bring this country “Change You Can Believe In”. What’s happened so far is that we’ve gotten a President who doesn’t seem to be able or willing to really lead this nation. Whenever the Right gets a chill he runs over to them with a blanket—or so it seems.
The entire health care reform debacle has everyone, including me, up in arms. It’s clear to me from empirical evidence, anecdotal evidence, first-hand experience and factual reporting and research that our health care industry is flat-out broken. Americans are being forced to declare bankruptcy over medical bills every 30 seconds and those are just the ones actually declaring bankruptcy. Now we have news that shouldn’t surprise us but, frankly still managed to stun me with regard to the number, that California insurance companies have, since 2002, denied 21% of all claims with one denying 39.4% of all claims.
The industry warns us that these numbers are misleading because they don’t represent actual denials of treatment to patients. Uh, nice try there. No, they can’t actually tell patients, as much as they’d like to, that they can’t receive care from doctors. Instead they’re just telling them they’re not going to pay for it. Gee, thanks for that clarification. That makes things so much better doesn’t it? Remember, that’s 39.4% of claims rejected by people who actually have insurance, or should I more accurately say, thought they had insurance.
In the face of all this there was a bright light. Seeing that the private sector had lost its way the Democrats embarked on a plan that did fit the claim of change we can believe in and talked up a reform plan that included a public option. This would force the industry to cut the waste and greed that has worked its way into their current setup if they planned to stick around to compete.
I had decided that the public option was the best possible way to go forward and found out I wasn’t alone. Nearly a hundred members of Congress joined me by sending the President a note that they wouldn’t sign a bill that didn’t include the public option. It’s about time frankly.
Anyway, now that the Right has seemingly lost all common sense by buying into the complete snow job that the conservative commentators are feeding them, the public option seems pretty dead. I called my own Congressman, John Adler, to tell him that if there was no public option then he’d not get my vote in 2010.
I think I’ve now decided that there are alternatives. Senator Olympia Snowe is pushing a “trigger” solution for a public option that would only institute such a plan should the industry fail to meet certain metrics. My problem with this is that, first, the metrics aren’t mentioned and I suspect they’d be so ridiculously watered-down by the Right that the insurers would have no problem staying ahead and, second, even if they did approach this trigger Congress would experience a shift in the meantime and the entire concept would be scrapped before it ever got a chance to be put into action.
However, I’m still willing to entertain such a risky proposition if a plan could be put forth that still achieves real reform. I believe that might still be possible one of two ways. First, there’s the path of major regulatory control over the industry. The government could regulate the health care industry much the way it does other industries and force some real change. Second, and more radically, they could do what they do with power and turn the health care industry into a public service. It would all still remain privatized but in partnership with government.
What I don’t want to hear in this upcoming speech is simply a request from the President that we all just accept minor changes in the system that will do little, if anything, to change this entirely broken system.