What about healthcare today in America? Could it really get any worse? I don’t think so, not for the 40+ million Americans who are totally uninsured or for the 80+ million citizens who are tragically under-insured. And what is the classic Republican response to this dilemma? Healthcare in this country is a “privilege” for a certain few and one had better take good care of themselves and not get sick or they will have to access the healthcare delivery system at great personal expense or great expense to the taxpayers (neither of which option is currently working out satisfactorily). No, we as Democrats believe that healthcare is a right — an “inalienable right” guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. In short, how could one possibly have an “inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” without seeing healthcare as a right and not a privilege of the chosen few? Make no mistake about it, this is the lynchpin of the argument that Republicans are using to deny some 120+ million Americans adequate healthcare, saying that this “healthcare thing” is some kind of privilege. Never mind the fact that — sadly and embarrassingly — every other industrialized country in the entire world has universal healthcare except the United States! It’s a travesty, an obscenity, a grave injustice to those without coverage.
Now for a personal example of the injustice of the present system: the company that I work for switched insurance plans and, therefore, insurance carriers on April Fool’s Day of this year (what an appropriate date, given the fact that the joke was on my company. . .). Supposedly we were told that our deductibles were to be transferred from Insurance Company A, our former carrier, to Insurance Company B, our current carrier. To make a long story short, here we are 3 weeks into the month of April and our deductibles still have not been transferred, thereby making one of the medicines I take $800 for 30 pills. Talk about cost shifting!! Even though I have already met my $2,000 Company A deductible, it still has not been transferred to Company B, therefore, all of the medications that I take are being sold at the full commercial price — several hundred dollars each for drugs like generic Lipitor for high cholesterol or Januvia for Type 2 Diabetes. The point being that those deductibles should have been transferred on April Fool’s Day or the very first day we received the new plan. Instead, they began withholding the policy premiums on the very first day we got the coverage! There are huge inequities and injustices being committed by our multi-billion dollar insurance and pharmaceutical companies with their muti-million dollar CEO’s. These same CEO’s are being paid huge bonuses while their companies enjoy “rainy day funds” of millions of dollars at the consumer’s expense. Just how long are we willing to tolerate this garbage? And who says that “Obamacare” is going to be any worse than the present healthcare delivery system in this country? I, for one, am sick of the bogus Republican fear tactics being used against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. “Socialism,” they say. “Bad for Seniors,” they allege. Never mind the fact that the Republicans are the ones in Congress who are attempting to privatize Social Security and Medicare and dismantle these programs as we know them. And that doesn’t even mention what most people already know: that the majority of the Republican Party is being co-opted by big insurance companies, big pharmaceutical companies, big oil companies, and just big corporations in general. Oh, they’ll give a lot of lip service to the Small Business owner, but in reality don’t give a tinker’s damn about them as they cast their votes in Congress for tax breaks for the wealthy and corporate welfare for big oil and other major corporations.
So the next time you hear a Republican say that “Obamacare” is the worst thing that could ever happen to this country, just ask yourself, “Compared to what . . . the present system??” I beg to disagree with them.
David M. Burnett
Marion County Democratic Party Chair