Will Rodgers, when asked whether he belonged to an organized political party, responded, “Nope. I’m a Democrat.”
Eighty years later, it appears nothing’s changed. This party, voted back into power by a majority of American voters, was charged with the peoples’ mandate to achieve several changes, one of the most important being the reform of our unfair, profiteering and ineffective health insurance industry as it has evolved in the last fifteen years into predominantly a for-profit model unique to this country and without any public approval ever being obtained. It’s brought the percent of our GNP spent on health care costs from 8% to now, over 17%, while over the same era, our status in world health quality has fallen from ninth to seventeenth place. World health experts look at American health, see how we approach it politically and pity us.
Every country we import cars from, including South Korea, enjoys better health than Americans as measured by longevity, incidence of chronic diseases, infant and neonatal mortality (at which the US has slid to twentyeighth place) worldwide. Most of the explanation for why we’re buying their cars and they’re not buying ours is cost, not quality.
For the past eight years Chrysler and GM have been spending more in health insurance premiums for their workers than they pay for the steel these workers use to build the vehicles. A major reason Ford survives is the little known fact that since the ’20s Henry Ford was smart enough to build his own hospital, clinics and labs, and establish Ford-owned multispecialty practices, employing the physicians and other health care providers serving all his workers and their families.
President Obama, poor soul, has inherited probably a bigger bag of political and financial worms than any other new president. Unfortunately, the first year of Democrat supermajority- elected representatives had received campaign funds and were thus beholden to the wealthiest bunch of special interest campaign financiers and lobbyists ever to pollute our political system. Now, thanks to the recent Supreme Court ruling, it’s gonna get even worse. It was as though Barak has moved Michelle and the girls into a new house they’d bought; the former tenants have moved out and they redecorated it, but a plethora of vermin, ghosts and devils remain, resistant to all available DC extermination services, spiritualists and exorcists.
The incredibly well-heeled and organized cadres of influence peddlers from the for-profit health insurance industry, the pharmaceutical supply houses and the malpractice litigation industry has sliced and diced Democratic organization (is that an oxymoron?) to shreds and only emboldened and consolidated the Republican barricade defending the status quo. What other country in the world would have individual states legislating a ban on mandatory health insurance?
In the meantime, the Democrats in Congress have come up with a 796-page (or is it 976?) Health Care Reform Act so complex, so verbose and full of inconsistancies, pork and platitudes, nobody can read and understand it all. And now, they’re fighting about whether to concentrate on health care reform, debt reduction, financial recovery or the Jobs Bill.
DOH! Helloo, you beltway bozos! Health Insurance Reform is the best possible first means to get American industry, main street small businesses, job recreation and thus banking lending and integrity back on track. Hey, I have an idea.
The Canadian Provincial health care systems are all run based on a bill passed by their Parliament which is 11 (that’s eleven) pages long. Canadians enjoy significantly better health than we at just over half the cost we pay per capita. My proposal is that the Republicans, all of whom I know could read and understand this bill, employ their solidarity to do the Democrats a brilliant end-around, change from the party of No to the party of Yes, You Can and introduce the Provincial Health Act retyped in a large font so the politicians can all read it without wearing glasses when on TV, consisting now of 15 pages and retitled The Republican Health Care Reform Act of 2010. Teddy Roosevelt, my favorite Republican of all time and a social progressive, would absolutely love this bill. And so would most of America’s doctors – and industrialists, and businessmen and families. I’ve only been practicing medicine full time now for 41 years, so obviously, I’ve got a lot to learn but, hey, I have an idea.
James Canfield, MD, MPH