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Time To Get Healthcare Reform Right

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As of now, most Democrats in Congress support universal healthcare coverage for all Americans, which offer various options for insurance providers, and includes a low-cost, government-funded healthcare option. Under the multi-option scenario, Americans satisfied with their present insurance can opt to keep their coverage. Americans dissatisfied, or without coverage, can opt for government-funded coverage.

Republicans complain that the free-market competition offered by a lower-cost public-sector plan would cause private-sector insurance companies to cut their services, lose customers, would inhibit profitability, or go entirely out of business. For them the healthcare business and its mega-profits trump the need to offer healthcare coverage to help save lives and prevent disease and huge financial burdens on families that cannot afford them.

Still, a growing number of lawmakers and people favor a single-payer healthcare delivery system such as Medicare, in which only low-cost government-funded healthcare coverage is provided to all Americans on an equal basis. A Single-payer is basically a way some countries use to provide its citizens with health insurance. Its name comes from the fact that doctors and hospitals are paid by one organization -- a single payer. By having only one payer, you can simplify the health care system enormously.

In a single-payer health system, everyone has health insurance. According to the Institute of Medicine, 18,000 people in the United States die every year from a lack of health insurance -- that's two people every hour. The US also has higher infant mortality levels (more children under 1 year of age die) compared to most other democratic countries. Babies would be healthier if all pregnant women could get access to a doctor while they're pregnant. Or think of how much less-crowded emergency rooms would be if people could see a primary care doctor when they were sick, instead of only going to an ER when they become sicker.

In a June 2009 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, "... 76 percent of respondents said it was either 'extremely' or 'quite' important to 'give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance.'"

And a New York Times/CBS News telephone survey said that "The national telephone survey, which was conducted from June 12 to 16, found that 72 percent of those questioned supported a government-administered insurance plan -- something like Medicare for those under 65 -- that would compete for customers with private insurers. Twenty percent said they were opposed."

The point here is that, despite the raving and ranting about the cost of healthcare reform and the political posturing of both Democrats and Republicans, there is massive popular support for healthcare reform, universal health insurance, and President Barack Obama's proposal. It is now left to be seen if the gun-shy, let's-get-along, bi-partisan Democrats will have the guts to back their president and create history by bringing American public health into the 21st century.

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MICHAEL D. ROBERTS is a top Political Strategist and Business, Management and Communications Specialist in New York City's Black community. He is an experienced writer whose specialty is socio-political and economic analysis and local (more...)
 

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