Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Show Me

The Town hall meetings, the endless discussion and cycle of arguments from the left and the right have left us right where we started, with multiple bills none of which are the one which will be signed into law. Thus the Congressional Budget Office can declare the proposed bill to cost ONLY $829 billion over 10 years and that it would lower the deficit by $81 billion by cutting costs in Medicare payments, taxing insurance plans deemed too expensive and not providing coverage to 25 million of the currently uninsured.

But if health care is a right not to be withheld for moral reasons, the 25 million left out in the cold by this proposal are unjustly singled out. If healthcare is designed to ensure no one suffers from a lack of coverage, then isn’t the extra value added tax to higher end plans going to discourage people from getting the coverage they perhaps need? If Medicare payments are cut, who will make up the difference for the doctors? The patients who rely on Medicare? The doctors? These are not partisan hack questions, they are serious ones. Even proponents of the healthcare bills in all its forms do not seriously believe that increasing spending by instituting a new government entitlement will result in a deficit reduction without draconian cuts in other areas that may not be possible.

We keep hearing how unjust insurance companies are for saying “No.” but the government by paying pennies on the dollars to doctors, also says “No.” and in a substantial way. What are the protections for the patients, the doctors and the tax payers who in this circumstance absorb all the risks the insurance companies once handled. What will be covered? What won’t? And Why? Who decides? Will the government pay for a Down syndrome child to have open heart surgery the way my insurance did for my son? Will it pay for others home health care the way insurance did for my grandmother when she suffered the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease? Will it take care of a child who faces down death nightly because of an extremely rare condition that causes her autonomic functions to shut down when she sleeps? Will it pay for the medications my friend who is on her third kidney at the age of 43 because of Juvenal diabetes needs? Will it pay for a tenth pregnancy the way it pays for a first should such a thing happen? These are real and difficult situations I know of that insurance companies have handled. Will the government do the same?

As tax payers, we need to know what our government is proposing to do in creating this new added on value program that will seek to address real and pressing needs.

We can’t simply trust the government just because the government says “Trust us.” even if we have the belief that the current administration’s goals are purely benign. We can’t know that if the bill won’t be seen or read until it reaches the President’s desk after being reconciled in committee. We’d like the chance to see the bill, critique it, criticize it and ask real questions that need real answers not because we fear change or wish the poor to die quickly and decrease the surplus population, or because we wish people to suffer or society to be divided into the haves and have nots. We’d like to examine the bill because at 1000 pages each in its multiple draft forms, there is a lot to digest and not all of it is good and much of it gives cause for serious concern. The bill put on the President’s desk ought to represent more than the machinations of a few cherry picked legislators if it is going to count on the economic support of all the American people.

Insulting those who want answers like why the number of people affected keeps shifting and what the coverage provided by the government will cover, calling those who show up unpatriotic, racists, bigots, xenophobes, Neanderthals, tea baggers and idiots –to name only the polite terms used, does not constitute argument or legitimate discussion of legitimate issues. Nor does such ungenerous rhetoric by those in power engender trust or the presumption of benign motivations in the minds of people asking the questions. The American people deserve better from their elected leaders, the elected leaders’ surrogates and the press. Trust is a two way street. Show us the bill. Make your case to the American people based on factual issues rather than political posturing.

We may not love everything. We may object, but surely we can be trusted to look at what you have created rather than simply take it. If you want us to trust you with our healthcare and our tax money for the greater good, trust us with the bill, warts and all. Stop hiding behind insults and protocol and spin. Show us the real bill before it becomes law because it’s the right thing to do whether or not it is the prudent political thing to do.

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