Monday, March 22, 2010

The Next “New Deal”?

The Morning After

Last night, landmark healthcare legislation was passed that will forever change the healthcare landscape. To me, this is not a polarizing issue as it is too many Americans. However, I have mixed feelings about what our government has now made into law. I work in the public housing field and through my church we have spent the last two winters housing the homeless. I see how lives are affected by healthcare.

Why am I conflicted?

At my job, I’ve seen people get public housing because they have lost their jobs as a result of their health. These people probably lost their jobs because these same companies that have let them go did not provide healthcare. If they don’t have healthcare, they do not go to the doctor unless they are really ill, than it is too late. At our temporary homeless shelter, I know someone made a choice to either pay to keep his home or pay for chemotherapy to keep him alive. He choice was to stay alive and take the medicine.

On the other hand, by working in this field, I also see abuse of the system. Too many doctors allow patients to go after “mental health disability”. If you are depressed and/or have bipolar disease, work to overcome it. Take the medicine, see a counselor. This is abused and stricter guidelines need to be in place. Or how about the mother that is on public assistance and Medicaid that takes her children to the emergency room whenever they have a fever or cold. If I would do that, I am penalized financially. So should they.

Current legislation needs to be tweaked as well to work on the issues. Give everyone a vested interest in using the current health care system efficiently and effectively. Checks and balances need to be established. Are they in the new legislation? Who knows!

My Vested interest

Since I started working at the housing authority, healthcare was always a hot topic. We started out with a Traditional Blue Cross plan. Then we started to see double digit renewals yearly. Over recent years, we changed plans, providers, and tried to implement other cost saving measures, but still the increases come. Shouldn’t these increases be close to inflation rates? 24%, 32%, or even 12% is exorbitant, but yet these were all rates that we saw over the past decade. Why? Sure our agency is dominated by 50+ aged population, but is that justification?

Me and my children’s future

If we continued to stay the course, how many more companies would have chosen to cut health care as a benefit? If the trend continued where I work, how much more would I have to dip into my personal income to just stay status quo? By passing this legislation, things are going to change. My opinion and it is just that, my opinion is that healthcare for everyone will bring costs down eventually, right?

By insuring everyone, preventative care is now an option for the currently uninsured. That strep infection will not turn to pneumonia. That untreated blood pressure may not necessarily turn into a heart attack. That inner city hospital will now get paid for that emergency room visit.

My wife worked for an inner city hospital and all the clientele that went to this hospital was either uninsured or on public assistance. As a result, the hospital continues to operate in the red. When someone cannot pay for a service, someone else is force to absorb that cost. That is probably another reason why my company’s renewal rates are driven higher as well. By the way, my wife was let go from this hospital as a cost cutting measure. Not a good sign for them and higher premiums for all of us.

Something had to be done for our future, by “our” I mean the USA. Healthcare is unaffordable and should not be a privilege for fewer and fewer people. That is reality and is where we were headed. We have the best healthcare in the world, right? But it isn’t accessible for everyone. If other countries can provide it and provide it well, so can we.

But we are not Canada, France, or …..

Listen, you are right, we are not anyone of these countries that provide healthcare to their citizens. Some of these countries may or may not have inferior healthcare. It doesn’t matter. This is the USA. Stop using this as an argument. Our systems are different. Period. You are comparing apples to oranges in this argument.

Next your argument is calling it socialized medicine. Again, when you can substantiate this argument with solid scenarios instead of using catchphrases to scare the public, I am open to listen to your discussion.

I cannot stand these ideological stances that both parties are taking.

Democrats are just as guilty as Republicans by digging their heals into the ground and not budging. It took a year to do this and neither party worked together. Republicans just stood by and wagged your fingers and said no. Democrats pushed this legislation and thumbed their noses at the Republican party and said, “Ha, Ha, we can do it without you.” Bipartisanship is dead. It has been dead since 2001 when the Republican party took over the Whitehouse.

Neither party is doing this country justice. Mark my word, the next big election will swing Republican. Then back to Democrat. Why? Because whoever is the majority in political office will not work with their minority peers. The pendulum will keep swinging. Until the two parties reach across the aisles, nothing will change. Americans voted in change because we felt that Democrats and Republicans would work together. Boy, we were wrong and we will continue to be wrong.

A New Deal

When FDR took office, the country was in the Great Depression. The New Deal was a series of legislation that was designed to work on the three “R’s”: relief, recovery, and reform. It was to provide relief to the unemployed, it was to provide recovery by creating jobs, and it was supposed to provide financial reform. Wow. This sounds familiar. How does the old saying goes, “If you don’t learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it.” You can draw your own conclusions.

It is unfortunate that our country has to reconcile the blunders and greed of Wall Street. I am not an obstructionist; I believe in the free market system. But greed has bankrupted this country. It is a bitter pill to swallow America, but these tough legislative decisions have to be done. The actions of few will have deep long-term repercussions for decades.

Either party:

If you have a solution, fix it. Don’t complain about it. Work to solve it. These are tough times and tough decisions will have to be made. Not everyone will be happy. Do the right thing for this country, not the right thing for you or your party! As one venerable modern day philosopher put it, “Git-r-done.”!

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