- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
There is a lot to say about the recent — and hostile — reaction to my previous letter on single payer health care [“Single payer health care is the best option,” Aug. 24, The Calvert Recorder]. It’s understandable; a lot of the rhetoric that has been trending in the national arena has made honest debate impossible. Many people on the right have suggested, for example, that single payer is socialized medicine — and that Obama’s health care plan is in line with socialist values. Such extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Looking honestly at the facts will provide for a framework for more honest discussion.
Avik Roy, a contributor to Forbes Magazine, wrote that the individual mandate was rooted in ideas promoted by the Heritage Foundation — a conservative thinktank. James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal commented: “Heritage did put forward the idea of an individual mandate, though it predated HillaryCare by several years. We know this because we were there: In 1988 to 1990, we were employed at Heritage as a public relations associate (a junior writer and editor), and we wrote at least one press release for a publication touting Heritage’s plan for comprehensive legislation to provide universal “quality, affordable health care.” The article goes on to explain how the Obama administration cited the Heritage Foundation in defense of the individual mandate.
Diane Lund-Muzikant, a writer for the The Lund Report, details the effect of the Affordable Care Act, and reveals how, essentially, it is an opportunity for corporate control of the system — and not a step closer to public choice and diversity of medical treatment: “The 52,000 Oregonians who purchase their own insurance coverage from Regence BlueCross BlueShield ... will ... see their premiums increase — on average — by 8.9 percent, but the majority of people will even face steeper costs — a $2,500 deductible — fewer choices of physicians and hospitals in the Portland area ... and their health plan will no longer cover mental health services or routine eye exams.”
This is one knot in the braid of depravity of the Affordable Care Act. Many papers, incidentally, have noted the similarities between Romney’s health care plan and Obama’s. Business Week reports that the Republican solution to Obamacare is “More Obamacare,” meaning more essential services lost to the catechism of free-market competition, more concentration on the economic gain for insurance companies and a continued struggle for the 30 million Americans who will remain uninsured.
Single payer health care in no way resembles the model that the Obama administration has implemented. As for the question of whether single payer is socialized medicine, the organization Physicians for a National Health Program has answered this in its FAQ section: “No. ... The government pays for care that is delivered in the private (mostly not-for-profit) sector. This is similar to how Medicare works in this country. Doctors are in private practice and are paid on a fee-for-service basis from government funds. The government does not own or manage medical practices or hospitals.” It’s worth noting, additionally, that many doctors leave private practice in favor of medical practice in the military, where doctors draw their salaries from the government. More information on this topic can be found at pnhp.org.
Finally, I emailed political analyst and linguist Noam Chomsky for his thoughts on single payer: “Single-payer — or any plan of the kind that other industrial countries have — would get rid of the deficit and before too long yield a budget surplus. The US health care program is not only morally grotesque, but also ludicrously costly.”
The power of these arguments and the distortion of the facts — that Obama’s plan is not single payer, that the ACA is rooted, fundamentally, in market ideology, that the Republican “solutions” to the ACA only expand on that ideology — reveal something deeply concerning about the effectiveness of the media to report on the very large overlap between the Democrat and Republican parties. More urgently, the lack of public space suffocates the opportunity for genuine discourse with the rest of the community. The uninsured and underinsured, perhaps abundant and present in this county, remain without a voice.
This is why on Tuesday, Sept. 4, the Health is a Human Right Campaign created a chapter in Calvert County. As mentioned before, two-thirds of the public and the majority of physicians believe health care to be a right. So desperately does this “silenced majority” need a place to organize and express its opinion. So desperately does an honest dialogue involving the most courageous nurses, doctors, patients and the voiceless uninsured need to be opened.
Concern for others is what drives people to become involved and participate in the political process. There is a sense, now more than ever, that all things are going wrong. People of all political stripes feel that political leaders do not care genuinely for the general welfare. And perhaps, most desperately of all, people feel powerless to create the change they feel is needed.
With the arrival of the Health is a Human Right Campaign, community discussion and participation in the political process is undoubtedly going to follow. It’s important to remember that democracy as a value depends crucially on faith being put, not in leaders or in political parties, but in the people around you.
Stephen Wallace, Huntingtown