Over the past month or so President Barack Obama's healthcare reform push has come under heavy fire from the political right and their allies in the Congress. Jaded Republican pundits and their talking heads and timid Democrats have castigated the president in typical cadences calling him a tax and big spending liberal Democrat who is going to bankrupt the nation. Without taking the time to examine the pros and cons of the Obama health plan his political detractors have rejected it out of hand simply to score political points -- the pastime of an intellectually lazy cabal of blow-hards fast becoming irrelevant to the national debate.
In the most glaring attempts to retake and control the national debate, the Republican ultra-right has launched a bitter, scurrilous and sustained offensive trying to prove that President Barack Obama was not born in America and therefore, is in the White House illegally. Leading the charge is CNN's Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh and the famed country singer Pat Boone who are now challenging the president to make public his birth certificate. Contrast that with the indisputable fact that Senator John McCain was born on a US base in Panama and you start to see the glaring double standard.
For Lou Dobbs the thing is simple: all Black people are seen through his jaundiced eyes of "illegal aliens." So it's no quantum leap for him to see even America's first Black president through his racially tinged, DNA plantation predisposition lens of "illegal aliens" a term that conjures up images of green people with bulbous heads and protruding eyes from Mars or elsewhere in the universe.
But no matter what is being said about healthcare reform, one thing is important: the national healthcare system is broken. It needs fixing. As many as 50 million people are without health insurance today, and the large pharmaceuticals are sucking the insured consumers dry. For those like Dobbs, et al. who can afford to buy health insurance or have it paid for by their companies, bashing those who cannot afford it is a safe and cowardly pastime. Painting a well-meaning, caring president as a Lone Ranger on healthcare reform is just so much hot air.
So let us examine the Obama healthcare reform plan and its pros and cons.
In the Obama healthcare lexicon, "Government healthcare" refers to government funding of healthcare services via direct payments to doctors, hospitals and other providers. In U.S. government healthcare, doctors, hospitals and other medical professionals are not employed by the government. Instead, they provide medical and health services, as normal, and are reimbursed by the government, just as insurance companies reimburse them for services. The Obama plan would simplify the process and so cut out the unnecessary bureaucracy, waste and corruption that presently plague the system.
In spite of its critics and others who would want to dismantle the system, an example of a successful U.S. government healthcare program is Medicare, established in 1965 to provide health insurance for people aged 65 and over, or who meet other criteria such as disability. At present the United States is the ONLY industrialized country in the world, democratic or undemocratic, that does not provide universal healthcare for its citizens.
While the healthcare debate rages on in Congress and the media, the fact is that, with 50 million people uninsured, the healthcare system is being placed under more and more strain. When people without insurance use hospital emergency rooms across the nation as walk-in clinics, there are costs that are involved and are defrayed (passed on) to the insured and taxpayer. This is one of the reasons for higher insurance rates and escalating cost of care at hospitals private and public alike. And federal reimbursement rates for services provided by hospitals are a percentage of the dollar and not exact amounts.