Thursday, September 17, 2009

We have no option.

Somehow with all the give and take we’ve lost sight of the
fundamental healthcare issue before the nation.  A very large number of us either have totally inadequate
coverage or none at all. 
The second group is growing by the day, as unemployment threatens not
only foreclosures on their homes but on their insurance as well.  Those who can’t meet their mortgage
payments are likely unable to pay their premiums.

So we dance around the obvious and stand ready, or at least some of those
who can make it happen stand ready, to postpone the inevitable yet another
time.  We’ve stopped talking about
the disgrace of people left hung out to die in the wealthiest nation on earth
and rather are talking about what it might cost to at long last do the right
thing.  We don’t seem to lack the
will when it comes to building armaments and sending our citizens out to kill
and be killed, but somehow have become financial pacifists when it comes to
keeping them healthy.  We know that
other nations take care of all their people, spend less and have equal, or in
many cases better, outcomes.

To talk about healthcare reform without at least a public option (a
Medicare for juniors as well as seniors) is like Nero playing his fiddle as
Rome burns, but with blinders on.  Without
a public component, there is no reform, no a solution. It is a heartless joke.

On September 14, NPR reported on the results of new survey
conducted by Drs. Salomeh Keyhani and Alex Federman of Mount Sinai School of
Medicine and just published in the New England Journal of Medicine.   They found that 63% of the
physicians polled favored a public option and another 10% favored a public-only
program, in other words universal Medicare (my words not theirs).  That means that 73%, a decisive majority, were in favor of
at least the option.  Thinking back
to the historic opposition of the AMA and doctors in general to any public
program in earlier days, this is an astounding turn around for the people
closest to the problem.  I have
little doubt that if the same doctors were asked if they believe a Medicare
expansion and universal coverage is in our future, even a larger number would
agree.  It is inevitable.

So what are we waiting for? 
The facts speak for themselves, the solution is so obvious and now our
doctors want to write the prescription. 
Perhaps there has been no political incentive to join together, but I
really wonder how that will play out if Massachusetts, as now seems more than
likely, will allow its Governor to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat.  60 aye, 40 no?  For the sake of our democracy, for its moral compass, say it won’t be so.

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