Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Take Back the Health Insurance Reform Debate

by Supporter Val McCall

Everyday, whether in our email in box, or on television, we are bombarded with negative rhetoric -- some quite offensive -- against health insurance reform. The attacks are relentless. If you have health insurance -- the President's plan is going to reduce your benefits, make you pay for those who do not have insurance, and you will eventually have to go to a public health assistance plan. If you are a small business, the President's plan is going to tax you into non-existence. If you are a veteran, you are going to loose your health care benefits. If you are terminally ill or elderly, the President's plan is going to end your life. And on and on and on.

Moreover, when you attempt to attend a town hall meeting to wade through the rhetoric, it turns into a brawl with folks shouting just for the sake of stopping the meeting. Some folks carrying signs with racial slurs against the President. All this and more to deter us from finding out the truth.

We keep hearing about "President Obama's plan." Let us take the President out of the equation for a moment. Let us take the politics out of the equation for a moment, i.e., this not a Democratic plan or a Republican no-plan, or Libertarian, and so on. Let us peel back the skin of this onion and find out what is inside beneath all of the rhetoric. Let us find the truth, realizing that the truth is neither right or wrong, left or right or somewhere inbetween, it just is.

Follow the Money

Start by asking yourself who stands to gain from the current health insurance system as it is and what do they gain. At the end of the day, health insurance is a business, indeed a vast industry. It is a thriving, profitable business where those at the top, like most businesses, make a fortune. The insurance industry will continue to realize profits from the premiums we pay them that allow them to receive high salaries, stock options, big bonuses, out-of-control marketing/sales/advertising budgets, corporate jets and junkets for the top tier of insurance industry employees, and more. The insurance industry will continue to set policies and practices that benefit the industry and not the patient, such as acne being tagged as a pre-existing condition. The insurance industry, and not doctors, will continue to set insurance coverage caps, have entire departments (not a panel) review each claim and determine who will be treated and who will not, regardless of how much money the insureds have paid over the years for such coverage. The insurance industry will continue to enjoy no oversight or government intervention that could provide checks and balances to protect the patient/insured.

The patient/insured, will continue to pay the premiums on a downward sliding scale, i.e., premiums rise (covering the cost of treatment to the uninsured, all of the above insurance company expenditures and more) and benefits decrease. the patient/insured will continue to be subjected to insurance industry policies that do not benefit the patient/insured and will continue to be denied coverage at the 11th hour, i.e., on their hospital bed or just before major, life-saving treatment that has been deemed to be too expensive by the insurance industry. Small businesses without the ability to pay the rising costs of premiums will continue to rise in number. Mid-size employers (100 employees or more) will continue to pass more and more of the cost of health insurance coverage on to their employees. Large-size businesses will continue to consolidate their business in an effort to reduce health insurance costs, often laying off many employees in the process.

Use it Or Loose It

We have a chance, right now, to change the insurance industry and bring about the kind of reform that will benefit all. We can raise our voices and show our numbers at town hall meetings, house meetings, canvassing, phone banks, write letters to the editor, write blogs, write, call, twitter our Congressional leaders, or we can be silent. If we do not use our voice right now, we will loose it.

We cannot afford to take a wait and see attitude. If we do not understand or are confused by all the negative rhetoric -- come out to the town hall meetings and voice concerns.

Public Option - Speak out Now or Loose It

If we want to make sure that the public option -- and a strong public option -- we have to unite -- many in body / one in mind -- and say so. Here's a list of Connecticut activities to get involved with. If you cannot find an activity suitable, create one of your own.

AARP Health Action Now Community Conversations: Don't let the myths stop reform. Special interest groups are trying to block progress on health care reform using myths and scare tactics. Get the facts at the AARP Health Action Now Conversation.
Seats for 50 - 75 people at each event. Pre-registration is required. Lunch will be served. Register on the AARP Reservation line toll-free at: 877-926-8300 or by email at: ctaarp@aarp.org

August 19: Portland Senior Center, 7 Waverly Ave., Portland 12 - 1 Registration and Lunch. 1 - 2:30 Program.
August 28: Enfield Senior Center, 299 Elm St., Enfield 12 - 1 Registration and Lunch. 1 - 2:30 Program.
September 1: New Milford Senior Center, 40 Main St., New Milford 12 - 1 Registration and Lunch. 1 - 2:30 Program.
September 2: North Branch Library Community Center, 3455 Madison Ave., Bridgeport 12 - 1 Registration and Lunch. 1 - 2:30 Program.
September 3: Wallingford Senior Center, 288 Washington St., Wallingford
9:45 - 10 Registration. 10 - 11:30 Program followed by lunch.

Other Events:

Bridgeport: OFC Community Conversation on Health Insurance Reform. August 22nd 11PM-1PM. Contacts: Diane Peterson peterson6@optonline.net and Wayne Winston waynewinston@hotmail.com.

Hartford: Hartford Health Insurance Reform Canvass 10AM.

Hartford: Bruce Springsteen Concert Canvass 4PM.

New Haven: New Haven Jazz Fest Canvass 5PM.

Groton/New London: HCAN Rally at Norms Diner August 23rd.

Norwalk: Town Hall meeting with Congressman Himes September 2nd.

Hartford: Rally and March 4:30PM.

As for the hate, lies and fear tactics, Stevie Wonder says it all.

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