Fixing health care in the U.S.

By Mike Shunney, Special to the BDN
Posted Aug. 10, 2009, at 7:51 p.m.

The editorial “Dogging Obama’s Plan” (BDN, July 31) covered the role of Rep. Mike Michaud in the debate over how to fix the American health care system.

The fact that fiscal conservatives, whether they are Democrats or Republicans, are marginalized in this reform effort is unfortunate and unnecessary. That marginalization is a direct result of the very expensive and successful lobbying by the medical insurance and Pharma corporations (more than 1,500 of them). What’s really annoying is that the millions spent on that lobbying come from your and my health insurance premiums. You and I are actually paying the tab for these corporations to keep the pressure on Congress to keep increasing their own profits.

This “compromise” bill in the House is the wrong direction to take if we’re really interested in bringing complete health care to all Americans at an affordable cost. It’s a compromise between what is best for Americans and what the corporations’ desires for profits are. Let’s drop the compromise and do what’s right for Americans.

In a recent letter I received from Michaud he said he wanted the Congressional Budget Office to evaluate the single-payer plan in H.R. 676 “before it was eliminated” as an option.

The only way to meet all three of the goals that Michaud has stated is by eliminating the profits and expenses of the medical insurance corporations. That is $300 billion a year in savings.

Those who say government would not be capable of administering that system don’t know where we are today. A full 47 percent of the money spent on doctors and hospitals and drugs now comes from Medicare, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense. Only 35 percent comes from profit-making medical insurance corporations. The rest comes directly from our pockets. Whether it’s from insurance premiums, taxes or direct — it’s your money.

Medicare, SCHIP, VA and DOD only cost us 6 percent overhead for administration. Insurance companies cost us 25 percent or more while denying coverage and deliver less money to our health care providers.

We don’t need the insurance companies. Most people can’t wait until they get to 65 so they can drop their insurance and go on Medicare. And that’s with Medicare as it is today, not with the improvements that H.R. 676 would make.

Count me in! I’d drop my insurance that costs me 20 percent of my income in a second if I could pay a mere 5 percent of my income for a tax that would give us all health care with the same doctors and hospitals I use now with no deductibles, no co-pays, no exceptions for pre-existing conditions, nobody left out.

Some people wonder about the long-term sustainability of a national health care system because Medicare is in financial trouble now. The answer is in the fact that Medicare is the most expensive portion of health care in America. By adding everyone to the pool and leaving nobody out we’ll save Medicare and improve and extend it to everyone.

What about the poor CEOs and insurance managers that would lose their multimillion dollar jobs and perks if we did away with the medical insurance corporations? Personally I’d love to see them become nurses. Those we need. And we could afford more of those if we fired the 1,500 medical insurance companies now bleeding profits from our health care system.

So let’s all match the pressure that the profit-driven insurance corporations are putting on all the representatives of the people. Call, e-mail, fax or visit every day. You can be sure your health insurance company is.

Mike Shunney of Rockland is a member of Maine Healthcare Reform.

http://bangordailynews.com/2009/08/10/opinion/fixing-health-care-in-the-us/ printed on December 21, 2014