Observing the debate over health care reform repeatedly surge to the front lines of attention and discourse tells me that perhaps its time has finally come.
Like a patient fighting for life, the popular outcry for a single payer (government sponsored) health care option demands our attention despite celebrity deaths, reality TV, or whatever Sarah Palin just said.
Like an historical reconciliation with civil rights, our national conscience is acknowledging that we are woefully behind modern care for our citizens. And in a deepening recession, not to mention a looting of our treasury by Wall Street, the rebuilding of our economy starts now. At a time when so many Americans are oppressed by health care costs, the single-payer option could address our economic pains at the same time.
I believe we are approaching a turning point in the health care debate for our country, at a time I anticipate will be looked back on as "the health care crisis."
This turning point is similar to halfway through the Bush years, when the steady barrage of exposes, op-ed pieces, documentaries, first-person accounts, and blogs helped the mainstream media cave into their conscience and reflect the reality -- the commander in chief wore no clothes, they were torturing in our name, and our economy was a Federal Ponzi scheme (technically known as a "Fonzie").
Let me break it down: that a public health care option should even be assailed suggests the encroachment of an industry desperately clinging to its racket.
Corporatized medical care, from pharmaceutical companies to insurance companies to hospitals spread thin, has long been alienated from caring for patient well being. What better measure is there than profit?
Many in congress are reluctant to uproot much of our health care gridlock as it stands, because they all get so much goddamn money from pharmaceutical companies and insurance lobbyists, they struggle to not act out like contestants winning a game show. So it is unsurprising that Congress doesn't turn around and screw their biggest donors, at least not at first blush from public outcry.
No, it will take a lot more outcry. My own U.S. Representative, Henry Waxman, who famously stood up to the Bush Administration while his colleagues cowered, has strayed from Rep. John Conyers' single-payer bill, and skirted the issue in his committee. I just went to his website to formally and respectfully register my WTF.
How unreliable and compromised has our health care become? Over a decade ago, the FDA stopped performing its own testing of potentially marketable drugs -- they let the drug makers conduct their own tests. Since, drugs have become five times more likely to get successful test results and 90% of them are reported to be the best drug ever, by the sales team trying to sell it.
Several years ago, around the time of revelations regarding Vioxx as an overpriced pain relief that caused deadly heart complications, I made a documentary about the shocking amount of influence the drug industry has over doctors, congress, and the media. Money Talks: Profits Before Patient Safety spoke with doctors, journalists, and attorneys about how Big Pharma has conducted its own drug testing, paid for endorsements in leading medical journals, and has personally profiled every doctor who can write a prescription.
I've since recognized this same greed and recklessness in insurance companies, HMO's, hospital management, and personal care. The pattern is the same: if we are not paying high costs upfront for doctor visits, medicine, or treatment, the costs to insurance companies come back to haunt us in steep monthly premiums that keep health coverage out of reach for 45 million Americans.
When there is clearly so much conflict of interest in this field, it is expected that there be fear tactics, misinformation, off-topic attacks, and resistance to change. What we need to remember is to not relent, not now, in making the single-payer option a reality that Americans can soon rely on. Push Obama, your senators, your representative. Let this be our Emancipation, Suffrage, New Deal, or better. Of course they're going to make it difficult.