A Political Health Care Rant

The last time I did a rant of some kind, I touched upon a lot of issues that really weren’t related to each other. This time, though it might not seem like it, it’s all mainly about one thing, health care, though I might go off the range a couple of times. It’s time for this, though; I’ve written about it often enough in posts on my other two blogs, but not this one. I just need to clear the air, so here goes; and no, the image has nothing to do with this post, as we all know by now.

Nutrition in the 1,000 Days
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On Saturday night, the House Democrats finally pushed through the first stage of what will be a very massive and comprehensive health care bill. Well, at least they pushed through a bill, on a vote of 220 – 215. How comprehensive it will be is still in dispute by everyone outside of the House of Representatives.

Why? Because we have no idea what’s really in the bill. What is it going to cover? We already know it’s not covering abortions, but we have no idea what it’s going to cover. We’ve heard that it’s going to be funded by fees and cuts to Medicare. What kind of cuts to Medicare, and why? What kind of fees? I know that if it still has that stupid provision I heard about back in late September about charging individuals $900 and families $3,800 if they decide not to get onto a health care plan, I don’t support that at all. After all, the President said that any health care bill he signed wouldn’t hurt the middle class; just who do we all think those fines, or fees, will be laid upon? The rich have enough money to not have to worry about it, and the poor have Medicaid.

What I have heard is that they won’t allow insurance companies to not cover someone for preexisting conditions, which is a biggie because I got caught under something like that back in 1984 (and still have my tonsils because of it). They also won’t allow insurance companies to drop you if you’re already sick under the plan, unless insurance premiums stop being paid. That’s actually another good thing. I tell you, in general I don’t trust insurance companies and it’s because of stuff like this. However, in my mind, they should have passed these laws years ago, instead of tying it to a health care plan.

Okay, let me go on the record by saying this; I do believe this country needs to have a health care plan to protect everyone who doesn’t have insurance. Having said that, without knowing what this plan is, I don’t know if this is the plan we signed on for. The President said in his 8 principles that any plan Congress came up with has to NOT increase the deficit. Suddenly, this plan is coming with a $1.2 trillion price tag over 10 years; how the heck is that not going to raise the deficit?

Now, raising the deficit is something the Republicans seem to be hanging their hat on, but those phonies and hypocrites were responsible for getting this country into the mess it’s in now, with unemployment finally reaching 10.2% and more than 15 million Americans out of work. They say that they’re worried about the financial burden on our kids; yeah, they’re worried about the money but they could care less about the environment, which they say doesn’t matter to them and that they don’t believe there’s anything wrong with, as Greenland is about to lose its ice mass and glaciers, Alaska has already lost much of its glaciers, ice is melting at both the North Pole and Antarctica at alarming rates, and the snows of Kilamanjaro are disappearing rapidly. Sure, there’s no threat of global warming; please!

And, why is it that these same Republicans, the party of NO, the party that just today supposedly came up with its own version of a health care plan that not only isn’t a health care plan, but is something that half the states in the union have already had in place for nearly 30 years, couldn’t decide to work with the Democrats and actually voice their concerns about portions of the bill while the debate was going on? Why didn’t they offer anything? Oh yeah, because their lobbyists would have had a field day and their political funds would have dried up (I just dropped receiving email from the lobbying from my local Chamber of Commerce because these people obviously have no compassion for anyone except businesses). Someone tell me how rich people are supposed to care about anyone else being able to have health care? Heck, months ago a Republican representative said health care was a privilege, not a right; who elected this moron?

Also, just who were these idiots (yes, I’m name calling) who were showing up at these town meetings over the summer and screaming about the potential for a health care plan instead of engaging in some kind of civil discussion. Here’s the thing; no one took you seriously except for the Republican politicians who were hoping that some kind of public outcry would scare people off this plan. Most of you who were being convinced that a health care option would be a bad thing are the very people who probably need this health care. Rich people don’t march, so they didn’t care. You made jerks out of yourselves and no one heard a single thing you said. I tell you this, it’s certainly a good thing I’m not a politician because I’d have walked right up to you, got in your face, and dared you to keep screaming at me. Threatening? You bet! People tend not to act stupidly when they’re called on it.

One final point; this idea of a public option. Folks, let’s just call it what it is; a government sponsored health care plan to compete against other insurance companies. I’m not sure whether I’m for it or against it, but I don’t think it’s needed. Instead. what would spur competition of prices would be to lift the lid on insurance companies across the country to be able to market their insurance in any market they saw fit. Too many communities have only 2 or 3 insurance company options at the most from which to choose from, and all of them have somewhat inflated rates. For all these people griping about how much the government health care plan is going to cost, who hasn’t at least a couple of times this decade had double digit insurance premium increases at work, where the average seems to be at least 8% every year, and the cost of pharmaceuticals going even higher? With more competition, prices would naturally have to come down, and that might solve some of the problems instead of the government funding their own insurance plan, which they already do through Medicare and Medicaid.

Now, if people were complaining that, instead of a health care plan, we should have been concentrating on improving the economy, I’d have gotten behind that. Sure, we had this stimulus package, but most of that was undercover, to the point that some people are just getting their stimulus money, and others have used it in ways that weren’t its purpose. This wasn’t supposed to save jobs; it was supposed to help create new jobs. But, in my opinion, most of these politicians had no idea how to create jobs. I had my ideas on how to create jobs, but no one ever asked me. What happened to our money czar? Oh yeah, she couldn’t take the job because she had illegal help that she didn’t pay any taxes on; sheesh (okay, we actually do have a new money czar, but I was on a roll here)!

By the way, I had my own version of a health care plan that a colleague consultant didn’t like, saying it wouldn’t be effective, and he came up with his own health care plan, which would have been effective. However, in retrospect, my plan over 10 years would have come to $500 billion at the most, while his would have come to $2 trillion; I still win fiscally.

Morally, this country needs a health care plan. Only the United States and Italy don’t have one for its citizens. Financially, I’m not sure we can afford this one, especially if the figures I mentioned earlier are still a part of the plan. And also, if it’s taking money away from Medicare, which is going to end up closing hospitals at the same rate, eventually, that banks are closing now, a health care plan won’t matter because we won’t have anywhere to go. That plus there’s already a shortage of doctors and nurses in this country because reimbursement is too low and malpractice insurance is too high.

I keep wondering if I were in Congress how I would have voted on this bill. This is something that most people don’t think about; these bills that get put before our elected officials almost never have everything we want in them, and sometimes have stuff sneaked in that has nothing to do with the bill. That’s how the anti-gambling statute got pushed in, through another bill that protects our borders, and why every American who’s paying to play poker online is actually breaking the law. With the little bit I know, this bill wouldn’t be close to my first choice. I might have had to hold my nose, but I think I’d have probably voted for it in the end.

Nope, glad I’m not a politician. Certainly glad I’m not a Republican (I’m not a Democrat either, by the way), since it seems that, so far, in this year they haven’t come up with a single proposal to try to advance something. Think that’s the wrong way to look at it? Prove me wrong. At least they did come together last week with the Democrats to vote for an extension of unemployment; can you imagine how bad that would have looked?

Okay, off the soapbox now. I’m not expecting this one to be read that much, so back to the lighthearted fare most of us are used to tomorrow; whew!


eVitamins

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Small Town Ohio; I’m So Ashamed

First a disclaimer. I have tried to basically stay above the political fray this year, especially once Barack Obama became the Democratic presidential candidate. I did it for a couple of reasons.

One, I don’t really believe there is such a thing as “non-committed” voters. This means that I believe every person has a specific point of view on a lot of topics, and I believe they’ve actually already settled on which way they’re going to go, for the most part. The only reason a person might consider themselves non-committed is because they’re not so sure the person who’s supposed to be representing their values is the person they want to vote for. So, at that point, it becomes more of a popularity contest, not anything that’s going to change anyone’s minds, and I’d rather not deal with it all in public. I have my opinion and my position, and that suffices for me.

Two, because, well, I’ll just say it; Barack Obama is black, and so am I. This automatically means that if I say anything to support him, I’m going to be discounted because he’s black, and if I say anything that doesn’t support him, I’m a sellout. It’s pretty much that simple.

No matter what anyone says about this year’s election, it is really all about race. Race is the only reason Obama isn’t ahead by 15 points or more heading into the home stretch. He has won every debate by a large margin. His education is superior, his intellect is superior, and the only thing McCain has over him is over 30 years in the Senate; longevity has its place.

If the backgrounds were reversed, McCain would have clinched this race back in September, or Obama would have never gotten the nomination to begin with. Those are my feelings; don’t argue on it, because, as I said, I’m not out to change anyone’s minds on politics, and no one is going to change my mind as far as American history goes.

It is in this vein, though, that I have to post this particular video (the video’s been deleted; I wonder why…). This is what it all comes down to in this election; this is why the election is so close. And it’s for reasons like this that I, as a black man, know that America, whether it elects Barack Obama or not next week, has a really, really long way to go. This is sad; and yes, that man said “nigra”:
 

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Blog Action Day – Poverty

As I decided to participate in this event, I sent a message to many of my friends and business associates, asking those who had blogs to participate in some fashion, and asking those who didn’t to read about it and possibly find another way to be a part of it.

Ethiopia
Creative Commons License Steve Evans
via Compfight

I had one of my friends write back and ask me not to send her things like this, saying she didn’t believe in things like this, calling people who do anti-liberal-democrat crazies. I was sort of stunned by that, because I don’t see the topic of poverty as a political one. However, knowing her background, she’s someone who’s never had to struggle, nor worry about whether she was going to miss a meal or not be able to buy something she wanted, and probably has never known anyone who has. I’ve been there, but we hadn’t spoken for a long time when I was going through my little period of near poverty, which I wrote about on this post awhile back.

I’ve had periods of financial strife in my life, but I always knew that I could find a way out of it in some fashion. As a last resort, I could always decide to give up my freedom and my pride and live with my parents; at least back in the day I could, while I was still single, which is when I had my problems. I don’t think it qualifies as true poverty because I always had options; some people never have that option in their entire lives, so even at my lowest point, I had opportunities that would never be afforded them.

On my other blog, in my post on this same subject, I said that I haven’t volunteered as much as I probably should have in my life. I may not have volunteered, but I have worked in a place where many of the people who came live in poverty, and worry every day about whether or not they’ll have meals for their children, or clothes to put on their back, and wonder if the schools they send their children to are sufficient enough to give them a chance that they themselves never had.

I worked at a community health center for 2 ½ years. It was one of the jobs I got to help me get my life back in order back in 1993. The health center is on the edge of an area that’s not quite known as a slum or ghetto, but it is impoverished in its own way, and a very dangerous place to be at night. At an event back in 2003, while giving a presentation, I asked every participant in the room who had been four blocks south of our present location to try to do business, and not a single one of them raised their hands. In a way, it’s the forgotten area of town, only five blocks from the beginning of downtown.

The health center caters to everyone. However, the overwhelming majority of the people who come don’t have much money, if any money at all. Most of them are on Medicaid, which is a good thing. Many physicians across the country won’t see Medicaid patients, which leaves the health center with an almost exclusive clientele. At least 10% to 15% of those who come don’t have any insurance at all; at least half of those either live in one of the missions or is homeless in some other way. I know this because I used to register many of the people who came in.

Many of the people who visit the health center don’t come in cleaned up as if they were going to church. Odd as that sounds, when I was a child, even when I was really sick, my mother made sure to take the time to bathe me in some fashion, even if it was an alcohol bath, put me in clean, ironed clothes, and made me presentable before I could see a doctor. Yet, the directive of the health center is that every patient who comes in gets treated the same, with dignity and fairness, as if they were rich enough to go anywhere in the city or the country. Sometimes it was hard; there are a lot of people who have chips on their shoulder and don’t want to be treated nice. Other times, all they want is for someone to listen to them, give them a little bit of courtesy, and if you can make them laugh or feel comfortable in some way, you may help to make their day and week seem just a little bit nicer.

That’s pretty much the point I want to make in this particular post. Statistics say that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Truth be told, it really doesn’t take a lot to help those who don’t have as much as others life a better life. Even in our presently bad economy, there are some things that could help.

One, there’s plenty of food in the world, so much so that a lot of it is destroyed to keep prices regulated. Scrap that; pass it on to nonprofit organizations around the world to get people fed.

Two, let’s do what we can to stem the tide of poverty as it pertains to education. Without education, almost no one will ever have the chance to be something better than they are. Not everyone needs history and the like, but everyone needs to know how to read and how to do math. Even without homework or without enough books, this can be done.

Three, let’s get people working, and not slave labor jobs either. Every major city in the world has projects that need to be worked on. Contract with companies that agree to have at least 25% to 50% of the workforce on these projects coming from certain neighborhoods of the city, and give them a bonus if they provide childcare.

Four, hire people who work with and help those in need that have some compassion in their soul and a real yearn to install a sense of honor in people who may not be used to being treated with respect in their lives. Tone down the rhetoric against those who don’t have much; they didn’t ask for it.

I’m glad to have this opportunity to have my say on Blog Action Day. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to write for this blog, or how I wanted to end. So, I’ve decided to end with this little video:

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