Tuesday, July 17, 2007

National Health Insurance: An Initiative Whose Time Has Come

When I was asked whether I wanted to go to the Fort Bend County Democratic Party monthly meeting, this time I said “yes”. I don’t usually go. This month there was going to be a guest speaker, Dr. Joseph Bak, a clinical psychologist.

That intrigued me. What was he going to tell Democrats to do?

It turns out that Dr. Bak is a member of Health Care for All Texas, a group that lobbies for national health insurance.

Remember I told you that you have got to see SiCKO? Michael Moore showed Americans what it is like to have a national health program. Well what Dr. Bak proposes falls short of a full blown national health program, but it is a good start.

Bak made a strong case for the gross inefficiency inherent in private and group health insurance programs. Why involve insurance companies with their 15% overhead costs, company HR departments to pick health insurance plans, and the cloud of people to make all of it work together? Why not have one large health insurance pool, Americans, one place for premiums to go, and allow Americans to pick where they want to go for health care?

I’ll tell you why not. Health insurance is a $2 trillion per year business. In overhead, that’s three hundred billion dollars. That’s a lot of lucre and there are people in the health insurance industry, rich people with lobby power, who don’t want to give that up. Understandable, but why punish 300 million people so a few tens of thousands have cush jobs?

That’s why Dr. Bak called the sponsor and co-sponsors of HR 676, The US National Health Insurance Act, heroic. These congressmen and congresswomen are essentially telling the health insurance industry to take a hike because if this bill ever becomes law it will render private healthcare insurers obsolete. All those companies that Michael Moore profiled, the ones that denied life saving procedures to their insured clients, will have to find something else to do.

The bill is sponsored by John Conyers (D – Mich.) and co-sponsored by 75 others. Look on the co-sponsor list and you see Texas Congressman Al Green (CD 9) and Congresswomen Sheila Jackson-Lee (CD 18) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (CD 30). These are our Texas heroes.

We need to make more of them.

Or at least we need to convince more of our congressmen to vote for this bill when it comes to the House floor. National Health Insurance will not disqualify you because of a pre-existing condition. It is full coverage from pre-natal to grave, and takes care of a full gamut of medical care including mental health, chiropractics and vision. The list is here.

It is an initiative whose time has come.

So here’s what you can do to show your support for HR 676.

Go to this website: Physicians for a National Health Program and follow the instructions for writing your congressmen. A sample letter is provided so you can edit out the stuff about being a physician and put in your own text and ideas.

I deleted the text about being a physician and added commentary about those of us who are insured but have been denied benefits.

I suppose when we get this bill to pass the House we’ll have to start working on our senators, but it’ll be up to you guys in other states to convince your senators to vote for this bill. My two are as useless as screen doors on submarines.

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