Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Proof's in the Facts

The following is a snippet of
an article by Jennifer Nix on the positive ramifications of a public option plan.
In the wake of the Senate Finance Committee votes last week against including a public insurance option in health-care reform legislation, it remains to be seen whether any kind of robust public option will ever become a reality in the U.S. I wonder, though, if more of my fellow citizens had ever seen a public option, or “socialized medicine” up close, as I have, whether all Americans wouldn’t be clamoring for the exact same health security I enjoy today.

The story of the Medicare End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) program is illustrative of a government plan urging private insurers to cover more Americans than they ever did when induced solely by market forces or their own good intentions. In today’s political parlance, this translates to a public option “keeping private insurance honest.” This history also presents a cautionary tale of how profit-driven forces chipped away at Medicare ESRD’s effectiveness, resulting in higher treatment costs and worse patient outcomes (compared to other industrial nations) for the nearly 530,000 ESRD patients in the U.S. today. [snip]

As I watch the cable news loops of all the disheartening acrimony and misinformation aimed at killing health-care reform, I can’t help but be amazed that Medicare ESRD was ever passed. I wonder how so many Americans today can be made to believe that health-care is “anti-Constitutional” or that a fascist/socialist (and let’s-not-forget-African) Obama wants to kill their grannies, but I am awe-struck by the headstrong self-destruction of the Republican party. There is no clearer proof of GOP decay than comparing the Republican leadership of the 1970s to those controlling the party today.

Nineteen-seventies Republicans were on the side of health-care for all Americans. In a message to Congress on February 18, 1971, President Richard Nixon himself proposed the National Health Insurance Partnership Act. This was a moment in our history when most Americans believed some form of all-inclusive, national health insurance would soon be a reality. Republicans and Democrats alike were working hard to find the best way to make it happen. In 1972, a generation of pragmatic and compassionate Republicans voted in large numbers to help pass the Medicare ESRD Act. It was seen by legislators as a test case, to be followed by government insurance programs—be they catastrophic or comprehensive—for other diagnoses.

This never happened, of course, and right up until our summer of angry town halls, Medicare ESRD has remained what former Senate Finance Committee staffer James Mongan called: “the last train out of the station for national health insurance.”

Today’s Republican leadership follows the lead of hate-speech blowhards and injects vitriol and proven lies into our national discourse, rather than engaging in honest negotiations over the best way to bring health-care to all Americans. They are ginned up for an Obama defeat, by any means necessary—good policy and the American people be damned.

Click HERE to read the complete article.

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