Saturday, October 24, 2009

All Americans deserve healthcare

Reprinted with permission of author:

All Americans deserve healthcare. Private insurance companies are not getting the job done. Solving this serious national problem is a legitimate function of government. It requires a public solution.

The effects can be seen locally. For example, workers who retired after 2008 and today from Hamilton Sundstrand (where I work) have no employer-funded healthcare. People who are on indefinite layoff as a result of good Sundstrand jobs being moved out of town will likely suffer the same fate. If the company continues to let the air out of the Rockford plants, more of us will join the growing ranks of the uninsured – estimated at over forty-seven million nationwide.

Surging healthcare costs are already threatening millions of families with bankruptcy and putting others at risk of losing their homes. According to a recent Harvard University study, the medical crises contributes to one-half of all home foreclosures and could put as many as 1.5 million Americans at risk of losing their homes each year.

As layoffs continue, more Americans will lose healthcare benefits. Preventative care for these people will be out of reach. Many more will then be forced to use the most expensive and least efficient venue - hospital emergency rooms.

We need a healthcare system that puts the wellbeing of our families, friends, neighbors – and the USA -- ahead of the dollar. Today, however, a triad of pharmaceutical, hospital and insurance corporations engage in the destructive practice of rationing healthcare for profits.

Take the insurance industry. Its bottom line takes precedence over availability to healthcare. Aetna CEO Ron Williams made this very clear in a July 27 conference call to analysts: “We would be willing to forgo membership growth if necessary. We have a clear bias toward profitability over growth.”

Families USA cited these statistics in March-April ’08: “... 18,000 adults nationwide died in 2000 because they did not have health insurance... 22,000 adults died in '06...

“... Uninsured Americans are sicker, uninsured adults are 25 percent more likely to die prematurely, and Americans between 55 and 64 are at much greater risk of premature death than their insured counterparts. This makes lack of health insurance the third leading cause of death for the near-elderly, following heart disease and cancer.”

Corporate lobbyists are sparing no expense in a mind-bending campaign to steer our legislators away from universal healthcare. They are pitting the insured against the uninsured and the healthy against the sick. They want us to believe that our own democratic form of government is a monster and that private insurance companies will treat us more fairly than any public solution. These are the same companies that get between us and our doctors – the same companies that have made a science out of using words like “pre-existing conditions” or “reasonable and customary” to cancel coverage or deny claims.

Although healthcare is a necessity not a commodity like a TV set, taking on an abusive insurance company or finding affordable insurance is neither fair nor competitive. We need a level playing field for consumers and a competitive alternative to private insurance. Only a public option, which favors healthcare delivery over profitability, can provide these critical components.

Luke 14:13 states plainly: “But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.”

We are a nation of great wealth and great promise -- fully capable of providing a healthcare safety net for all Americans. The public option means one more vital choice in the marketplace. That’s why we need it.

Tim Mills

Co-chair, UAW Local 592 Community Action Program (CAP) Committee

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