Editors Note: This article I originally wrote in September of 2009. It was a defense of what I saw as a new administration attempting to enact genuine reform. Since I have seen much in the past three years, I have come to reverse my outlook on the proposed health care reform. I have faithfully transcribed this opinion piece for the sake of analysis and self-criticism, and to show the dangers of taking a politician at face value. -M.P.
President Barack Obama’s address to Congress on August 14th brought civility back into the discussion on health care. For the better part of the summer, the debate on health care descended into organized heckling, ridiculous accusations, and in some cases, outright misinformation. Instead of a serious discussion on fixing an existing system that leaves millions without coverage, we were all inundated with images of angry mobs and oft repeated falsehoods. As a result, the more sensible and progressive voices were almost shut out of the conversation.
Out of political necessity, the President had to acknowledge both sides of the debate, and was forced to address baseless claims. The most horrendous one circulating was the notion that “death panels”- a board to decide end of life issues- would be part of the health care reform bill. Also handily dismissed was the idea that Medicare would be cut in order to pay for health care reform. The plan does not at all call for that, this is just another outright fabrication. With those misrepresentations exposed, the way is clear to move on to what the actual reforms proposed.
Referred to by President Obama as “consumer protections” the health care reform bill would make it illegal to deny coverage for a pre-existing condition. It will also be against the law for insurance companies to drop someone from coverage when they become sick. These are a few of the many proposed reforms that will go along way towards keeping the health care industry honest and forcing monopolies to behave in a humane way towards their customers. Regulation of the health care industry is necessary, seeing as the insurance companies were reluctant to make the adjustments themselves.
There will also be a not for profit public option to competet with the established insurance companies. The public option will also cover the uninsured, to the relief of those without coverage, a figure that increases by 12,000 daily. In addition the public health option will encourage private companies to be more efficient, a move that is needed in light of rising health care costs. Andother important stipulation of the bill is that there will be limitations placed on out of pocket charges.
Health care reform will not be the poorly conceived plan that the conservative opposition originally maligned it as. The different insurance options will be phased in over the next 4 years. This is ample time for the health insurance companies to adjust their current business practices. It is not a “government takeover”, but a way of alleviating the most outlandish abuses.
Now with a much better tone set, the facts out there, lets continue to hold the politicians feet to the flames on the long overdue issue of health reform. Lets not forget those obstructionists who held up this possibility, and fought it every step of the way.Reasonable input, not pointless outbursts, is needed to improve the state of health care for everyone in this country.