From the Seattle Post-Globe:
The health care debate is heating up, for good reason. In our state, tens of thousands of people lost their health coverage when they lost their jobs. They will soon be joined by tens of thousands more who are losing their Basic Health coverage. The number of uninsured has spiked to almost 900,000 people. One out of five adults between 19 and 64 has no health coverage. Meanwhile, businesses which offer health coverage are facing another round of escalating health care costs. And just this month Premera Blue Cross is increased its individual rates by over six percent.
Where’s the hope? Wasn’t that what millions of Americans voted for last November? Hope lies in the push by President Obama for universal coverage. It won’t be easy. The national discussion about health care is undergoing the lobbyists’ metamorphism. All during the Presidential campaign, the run-up to the inauguration, and the first months of President Obama’s administration, the focus was on universal health coverage. But in the past two months, it has switched to making sure that private insurance is not undercut by a public program.
But wait, we already have a public program. It is called Medicare. It is administratively efficient and it covers all the elderly citizens in our country. How bad is that? Perhaps we need to step back even further in considering health care. We’ve been getting into trouble ever since we started to consider it a “market” good. It is not a commodity, like a flat screen TV. You don’t choose to have Crohn’s disease, like my son, or breast cancer, like my colleague, or to just get old and start to fall apart, like my Dad.
People don’t consume a cast for their arm, or a colonoscopy, or a skin cancer treatment. Those are not market goods. But once we consider people to be consumers of health care, and health care to be a commodity on the market, we have corrupted the moral dictums of the medical profession. The impulse for health care reform will fail if it centers around “show me the money”.
So that’s the latest tactic to derail health care reform. It’s too expensive, we are told, costing over one trillion dollars over the next decade. Hmmmm, that’s not what Congress said when it authorized over three quarters of a trillion immediately for the financial bailout of the biggest banks who created the recession we are in now. Some state legislators have seen through this. State Representatives Hans Dunshee, D- Snohomish, Marco Liias, D-Edmonds, Mary Helen Roberts, D- Lynnwood, and Mike Sells, D-Everett, and State Senators Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell and Paull Shin, D-Lynnwood have all signed onto a letter to Congress requesting comprehensive health care reform, including the public option.
Citizens have gotten this right as well, with the vast majority in a recent poll willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and believing that the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector. Our senator Patty Murray has come out strongly in favor of health care reform that includes the public program.
It’s time to stop the wobbling. When we look back in December, measuring how far we have come, or not, health care reform will loom large. It is a dealbreaker for the citizens of our state, and for making hope a reality. We failed in 1993 to enact universal health reform. For the health of the people, we can’t afford to fail again.