Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Navy Man's thought on Health Insurance Reform

I am pleased to present this opinion piece on HRC from Richmond's own Scott Wichman. A Naval Logistics Specialist, he and his wife Jennie are also one of Richmond's most well known couples, both mainstays of the Theatre.

I don't see where there is a 'Takeover' of the healthcare industry. There is no public option. No single payer. There are, however, mandates in this bill that--- in my opinion-- should have been put in place long ago, namely that if you pay your premiums, you should not be denied care and your insurance company should not be able to drop you once you get sick. Furthermore, the recent arbitrary rate hikes in insurance premiums are completely driven by the profit motive. In many cases to the exclusion of paying for actual care.

These 'abuses,' far from being isolated incidents, have become standard operating procedure in the health insurance industry. I firmly believe that in certain instances when the public welfare is at stake, such as now, Government has a responsibility to step in and make sure that Insurance companies are holding up their end of the bargain.

The same industries that play fast and loose with the rules, (Banking, Healthcare) receive generous subsidies, handouts, bailouts, and Corporate Welfare grants each year and rake in money hand over fist from the Government for the privilege of doing almost whatever they want. The moment someone dares to tighten the chain on big business because of their chicanery, he is accused of being a tyrant.

Furthermore, the disingenuous way in which concerned republicans have suddenly had a rash of 'ideas' is particularly galling to me because they had eight years to put them into place. Not one of them materialized. Yet, Tort reform is addressed in the bill to a certain extent. Caps on damages is something republicans have asked for and gotten. Those are great ideas, but Republicans cannot simultaneously be considered 'Responsible Leaders' when they allow utter falsehoods like 'Death Panels' to be repeated over and over again to scare people away from knowing what is in the actual bill. That is shallow and opportunistic-- Not that they have cornered the market on shallow opportunism. Democrats have shown they are adept at that as well.

One would also think that a Gov't mandate that 'all Americans purchase private insurance' would be a boon to an industry already smimming in record profits. Here come a ton of new customers who will actually be able to afford a service that they will actually receive! And doesn't a fully-insured populace reduce healthcare costs? No more ER bills written off or absorbed by taxpayers, no more bankruptcies due to medical bills.

Yet here is where the insurance industry is freaking out-- they will actually have to deliver on their promises, instead of being able to slip out of their responsibilities so callously. If folks on the right are freaking out over the gov't mandate to buy health insurance, why don't they protest Car insurance mandates as 'Tyranny'?

The Obama plan has targeted costs by making medical records computerized and accessible to physicians (Something the Military is already doing in order to cut costs), not to mention that they are doing it while enacting the largest Middle class tax cut in history. Furthermore, the CBO says that the deficit could be cut in half in ten years through cost savings in the President's proposal.

I'm one of the people on the left who feel that the bill should go further by allowing for a robust public option. If I were President, I would pay for this Public Option by eliminating the use of Private Military Contractors overseas (Companies like Blackwater, etc, who charge the Gov't an arm and a leg and don't play by our Rules of Engagement.) and transferring that money to offer healthcare to people who need it.

It makes no sense to me that when we send food, supplies, and medical care to a country halfway around the world, we are seen in this country as noble and heroic. If the government offers to do the same thing stateside, is is Tyrranical/Socialist/Fascist and people protest it.
Scott Wichman
Richmond, Virginia