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Debunking Conservative Talking Points on Health Care

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Headlined to H2 11/25/09
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Joan Neubauer, of the Davis Mountains Trans-Pecos Heritage Association has posted an article entitled "Government in My Doctor's Office" which can be read here: http://dmtpha.wordpress.com/read-all-about-it/

She also submitted it to the Alpine Avalanche and it was printed under the title "Address health concerns through free market" in the November 19, 2009 issue of that paper

This article is written in response and will be published in the Alpine Avalanche as well. It is also posted at click here

Joan Neubauer wins the prize for the most misinformation per square inch of print for her latest column on the US House version of health care reform. However, rest assured that most of the inaccuracies she repeated didn't originate with her. Her entire column was a repetition of talking points corporate America is slipping into the hands of conservative and libertarian spokesmen and pushing on their media subsidiary, Fox News.

Their purpose is simple and it goes like this: The United States is the only advanced nation that collectively finances health care primarily through corporate, for-profit insurers. (Note, I'm talking about health care financing, not the provision of care by doctors and hospitals and other providers; this is how we PAY for care, not how it's provided.) Those for-profit, corporate insurers have pocketed our health care dollars instead of paying for the care we need. Meanwhile, forty-six million Americans are uninsured, and 45,000 die every year because they don't have access to a doctor. Almost a million Americans have gone bankrupt because of health related costs, and costs are rising such that we are spending almost twice as much per person on health care as any other nation.

Private insurers broke this system and they know it. They want to keep our money flowing their way so their CEO's can live in the "manner to which they have become accustomed" and their stockholders can make more money with our money. The only way they can keep this scam going is to prevent regulation and corner their already restricted market. There is NO "free market" in health care financing! We're talking about an industry that was mistakenly given exemption from anti-trust regulation!

There is only one entity big enough to stand up to mega-corporations (if it will), and that is the US government. So, at the first moves in over a decade to rein them in, their strategy is to demonize the government and elected representatives who are seeking reform. Folks, the US Government is not some beast out there bent upon devouring us; it is the collective representative of us, operated by our elected representatives, with our tax dollars and for the purposes stated in the US Constitution. In the Preamble to the US Constitution you will see one purpose is to "promote the general welfare." Ask yourself this: When was the last time your friendly neighborhood health insurer came to your home town, conducted public town hall meetings or held regular office hours to hear from and help you? Never! Did you vote for them? No way!

Further, Ms Neubauer spoke of the fraud that has been discovered in Medicare, and that certainly is important to control. But one reason we know about that fraud is because Medicare is a government-run program with some transparency, oversight and accountability. Just imagine what's happening in the private health insurance realm where there is less accountability and no incentive to control costs.

The corporate insurers know the real facts, but they don't want YOU to know. So they make things up. I'll just run through a few of the tales, but, in sum, Neubauer's column contains nothing BUT misinformation. Here's one whopper: Health care reform is "government intrusion into one of the most private of human relationships, that between a patient and doctor." Talk to some folks who receive health care financed by Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, SCHIP and the VA (all of them government managed) and you will find patient satisfaction is high. The government ENABLES doctor/patient relationships to exist where none would otherwise exist at all! Yet the for-profit insurers intrude in that relationship daily, as any doctor who has had to negotiate to get their patients care will tell you. And they prevent millions from even seeing a doctor. Furthermore, decisions on coverage by government programs are based on patient care, while decisions made by private health insurers are based on corporate profits.

Here's another: It is not Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who established that health care reform would lower our deficit. It's the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office who analyzes and scores federal bills. And they also confirmed that our deficit will be far, far worse without reform because we would continue to fund the corporate profits and there will be no downward pressure on prices. How genuinely concerned can conservatives be about the deficit anyway, since they endorsed Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, two unjustified wars and the TARP giveaways. By the way, if we would end those wars, we could easily pay for health care for all.

And another: The planned cuts in Medicare are cuts in payments to certain providers who are now being overpaid, not in benefits to patients. Instead of harming those 65 and older, reform will make Medicare coverage more secure.

Here's another: Health care reform does not contain ANY federal funding of abortion. It enables the current status whereby 85% of private insurance plans, using private funds, cover abortions along with other reproductive health services.

The public option is a non-profit plan some can choose that provides competition for corporate insurance. There is no plan for it to become mandatory. On the contrary, as it stands now, the public option will only be available in the individual market, not in the much larger employer-paid insurance market. While they tout the free market, insurers have already weakened the competition of the public option.

Finally, health care reform will help, not hurt, small businesses (and employers of all kinds, such as state and local government) and it will boost, not cut, employment and wages. And health care provider jobs will increase as those needing care finally get it.

Multiple columns would be required to detail all the points of health care reform winding its way through Congress. It's not perfect, but it's a real start, long overdue. I urge everyone to become informed of the true facts and to back genuine reform that serves the interest of ordinary Americans, not the corporations. They have tremendous clout -- about 2.5 lobbyists for every member of Congress. They're using our money to spread misinformation. But we know where they're coming from and the facts are on our side. We have to insist that our government enact true health care reform now!

 

I'm a retired public health worker focused these days on supporting a variety of progressive issues, such as criminal justice reform, energy efficiency, environmental protection, universal health care, civil rights, and worldwide peace and respect. (more...)
 
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