Focus is on Iran, American health care reform needs to be at the forefront

While it seems that the national issue of the moment is the fallout over the Iranian elections, and what stance President Obama should take, I’d like to invite everyone to backpedal with me for a moment in order to talk about the health care reform that is currently being debated in the Senate.

I won’t bother criticizing why-at our own moment of national crisis-we need to concern ourselves with how another sovereign nation handles popular unrest. Let me just say that if the “Team America” days of policing the world aren’t behind us yet, then we’ll just have to address that at some point in the future.

For now I’d like to argue that the most important area of concern for the American people should, in fact, be themselves. Wake up, America! In case you missed it – between your morning latte and your afternoon buying spree at Target – we’ve got our own problems.

For instance, a February 2009 report from the Institute of Medicine shows nearly 46 percent of Americans are uninsured. Also, partly due to recent economic factors, health insurance coverage in America is in a downward trend.

Personally, I don’t need a report to tell me this. My coverage at work has recently been significantly reduced, and I have never been happy with health insurance to begin with.

The IOM report also states a number of common sense conclusions concerning the health of uninsured Americans. The uninsured and under-insured are less likely to receive preventative care, and more likely to suffer and die from preventable or manageable ailments. A 2004 IOM report found that 18,000 Americans died every year as a result of lacking insurance.

Why should you care? Well, if you’re completely heartless and honestly don’t mind that 10 percent of American children being uninsured, perhaps you’d appreciate better care for yourself at a lower cost? According to the IOM report, larger numbers of uninsured Americans affect health care at local levels, resulting in higher costs and lower quality for those with insurance.

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Now we’ve reached the heart of the matter. Sadly, that heart is not filled with compassion for our fellow citizens, but instead with concern for ourselves and the bottom line.

The stiffest resistance to the health care reform bill Congress is debating stems from the possible implementation of a national health care option. Now, before anyone throws out the “S” word, we are not exactly talking about socialized medicine, as much as the bill’s opponents would like you to believe.

At best the “public option,” as the government managed health care plan is being called, offers Americans a choice-an option other than whatever, if anything, your employer offers, and the private plans that no on can realistically afford. At it’s worst, perhaps it really is a step in the direction of a single-payer universal health care system. Either way, if you ask me, it’s an honest effort to approach the change we all wanted when we elected President Obama.

Divorce yourself from the media, and from any propaganda you may have been subjected to over the years concerning socialized medicine. Don’t think about the supposed costs, and forget the issues surrounding healthcare and insurance for just a moment. Now, ask yourself one simple question: on a base level, shouldn’t every single American have access to heath care?

If you’re curious how others stand on the issue, in a recent New York Times poll 72 percent of Americans supported the idea of a government-run health insurance alternative. Another 61 percent categorized the threat of rising heath care costs to the nation’s economy as “very serious.” Also 85 percent of those polled thought the current health care system either needed fundamental changes, or a complete rebuild.

So with public support of health care reform at record levels, where is the resistance coming from? One objector, House republican leader John A. Boehner told the New York Times “Families and small businesses . will not support it.” According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Boehner and his Political Action Campaign have received over $1.9 million in health sector contributions since 1990, with the majority-over $1.1 million-going directly to Boehner. The greatest contribution, $731,000, was received just last year.

In fact, according to the CRP, contributions to democrats from the health sector are up across the board. For the first time since President Clinton’s failed health care reform, democrats-now in control of congress-have received substantially more in contributions than republicans.

At the risk of sounding like a whining liberal, is it truly the American people that Rep. Boehner feels won’t stand for this bill-or is it his special interest contributors?

Personally, I’m on the fence concerning this bill. I believe that reform is necessary, but I don’t know if this bill, or the version eventually adopted by the Senate, will go far enough. Hopefully, whether this reform bill is adopted or not, our legislators will eventually do the right thing and stop trying to scare the American people away from a single-payer universal health care system.

Because, on a fundamental level, I believe that everyone realizes that health should not be a privilege of the wealthy.