By Patricia Wilson-Smith
It’s been a long time since I lent my voice to any debate. Life has taken some twists and turns, and I’ve been busy holding on for dear life. But it’s time to blow the dust off my laptop.
I’ve kept a keen watch as the health care reform debate has raged; I’ve watched earlier on as the Democrats did everything they could to woo the likes of Olympia Snowe, who of course supported health care reform just long enough to vote it down once the Senate bill was up for a vote. I’ve watched as the large insurance companies skillfully rallied the well-meaning, but sometimes painfully ignorant radical right to protest in very ugly public ways against reform, screaming and yelling at the tops of their lungs for “the government to keep its hands off of Medicare.”
And I’ve even watched President Obama try with all his might to take a bi-partisan approach to reforming health care, over and over again, reaching out to one Republican or another, only to hit the brick-hard wall of truth that is the right’s complete inability to see beyond their political aims. And I’ve watched the media, who in their zeal to report on each new development, gave voice to the legions of morons around the country who educate themselves by watching 30-second soundbites on cable news, while thousands and thousands of people struggle or die because this country is too consumed with the spectacle of the debate to just get this right.
I’m sick and tired of this. I want health care reform for this country and I want it now! I don’t have to tell anyone this, but it bears repeating – we are the only western nation that does not provide some form of universal health care for its citizens, and that fact alone should be enough to warrant a change. The problem is, those who oppose health care reform have done a masterful job up to now of scaring the bejeezus out of the American people with stories of ‘health care rationing’, and ‘6-month waits’ for treatment. Even though the facts just don’t prove these scare tactics out.
I recently visited London, England and spent time with my husband’s lovely family. I had a blast – I sat around the dinner table with cousins, and nephews, and uncles, and we laughed about the differences in life in the United Kingdom and the States. Mostly, we joked about innocuous things like our use of the word ‘cookie’ and their use of the word ‘biscuit’; how we call the storage areas in our cars ‘trunks’, and they call them ‘boots’; we even joked about how the U.K. really has no concept of an SUV because their streets are too narrow to accommodate them.
But when the talk turned to health care, things toned down a bit. I asked the questions I’d been dying to ask since this debate first begin to rage in this country, when lawmakers were warning us not to look to England’s National Health Care System as a model for care here. I asked them – “are you guys happy with the level of care you get under your system?”
The answer I got was a resounding, “yes”. And what’s worse, because they have access to the very same cable stations that we do, they get to see the lies and misrepresentations being regularly disseminated in the American media, and they’re dumbfounded. For the most part, they are perfectly happy with the level of care they receive, accepting of the level of taxation it takes to support the system, and had no horror stories to tell about long waits, poor care, rationing – nothing.
In particular, my mother in law recently had heart bypass surgery to clear up a blocked artery. She raved about the experience – how she visited her doctor when she wasn’t feeling well, how quickly she was diagnosed, and how even more quickly she was admitted to the hospital and how well she was treated. The whole experience of discussing England’s health care system with my new family left me confused, and aware that I had bought into the lies more than I’d realized.
According to Wikipedia, an independent survey conducted in 2004 found that 92% of British hospital inpatients were satisfied with the level of care they received; 87% of outpatients were satisfied with their treatment. If you don’t trust Wikipedia, how about Gallup? In March of 2009, Gallup reported the results of a survey of residents of OECD nations, and guess what? The United States lags behind the UK in overall satisfaction with our respective health care systems. Let THAT one sink in.
And so I have no choice but to believe that the vehement opposition to either a truly universal single payor system, or its weaker younger brother, the public option, is the evil creation of health care lobbyists and the pathetic members of Congress who would rather continue to align themselves with their benevolent benefactors than stop the carnage that is being caused by our current health care system. I am no expert when it comes to these issues, but I don’t exactly hear anyone disputing the fact that each year 45,000 Americans are dying simply because they’re uninsured. And it’s an undeniable fact that millions of Americans each year are being driven into bankruptcy because of out of control costs, while greedy insurance companies yank their coverage just when they need it most to maximize profits and secure the bloated bonuses going to their inept CEOs. My mother was one of those people who was driven into bankruptcy by medical bills. After decades of working hard and taking care of her family, she had to suffer the humiliation of declaring bankruptcy all because our country won’t do enough to provide for it’s citizens. It makes me sick to my stomach.
So it’s time stop talking about this now, just as President Obama says. There’s too much at stake – too many lives, and I believe the future financial viability of our nation. When President Obama and other Democrats say that our current health care system is not sustainable, I believe them. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist. People are using Emergency Rooms as last-chance health providers, often when they’ve neglected their health for so long, there’s nothing that can be done for them. Employers are gearing up to begin shifting more health care costs to already cash-strapped American families, and the cost of health care has risen 2.4% faster than the GPD since 1970. Our system is a freight train running down hill, and it’s time to stop it.
We have a unique opportunity right now, today. We can either keep walking around like zombies, acting as though we’re powerless to get anything done, or we can drop everything for five minutes, get off of FaceBook or Twitter, or whatever our social network of choice is and call our representatives and DEMAND that they pass a bill now! I’ve had it with this crap! We need to extinguish pre-existing condition denials now! We need to insure the 30 plus million Americans who have no insurance now! We need to ease the financial burden on American workers, the elderly, and we need to do it now! If you do nothing else today, call your representative and tell them – we’re tired of the games, we’re tired of the political spin, we’re just plain tired! Pass the friggin’ bill already! DO IT NOW!
To find your representative, visit the site below:
It’s crunch time. Blow the dust off YOUR laptop or telephone and make your voice heard.