THE BLOG
07/20/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What If 50 Million More Americans Have No Health Care Coverage?

Considerable lobbying efforts to reform health care proceed the week of June 22 in Washington, with a public rally on the 25th. This is just "frosting on the cake" to everything that is occurring daily inside the beltway as well as (it seems) in every column, blog, newspaper and on-air reporting such as MSNBC, CNN, FOX and the like. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently "scored" the draft of a bill Sens. Kennedy/Dodd are floating through the halls of Congress, the Affordable Health Choices Act, released by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) on June 9, 2009. Doug Elmendorf, Director of the CBO, said in a June 15, 2009 letter to Kennedy (www.cbo.gov) that Kennedy's bill, "would result in a net increase in federal budget deficits of about $1.0 trillion over the 2010-2019 period". The draft bill, once fully implemented, would cover 39 million individuals and that folks who had existing coverage would, "decline by 15 million (roughly 10 percent) and coverage from other sources would fall by about 8 million, so the net decrease in the number of people uninsured would be about 16 million". President Obama spoke on his plans to reform health care at a town hall meeting in GreenBay, Wis. and before the American Medical Association in Chicago the week of June 15 as well. And this is not to mention the ads pummeling us on TV telling us that a government-run plan is not in our best interests. Oh, really?

The CBO report, though admittedly incomplete because it says, "those figures do not represent a formal or complete cost estimate for the draft legislation", is being touted by forces opposing health care reform as an example of why such reform today cannot proceed. We are told it is just too darn expensive. To this, we are hearing about replacing a public plan as one option for all Americans, with the creation of health care co-operatives (co-ops). But when did such regional plans of limited populations of insureds ever measure up the major players in the health care and health care insurance industries? How about, never. Let's face it, those making big profits by charging horrendous costs for health care in our country and for the monumental health care premiums to those of us who can still afford insurance don't want the playing field to change.

But let's back up a moment, by asking what the title to this post states: if nothing is done to our health care system, what will result is that another 50 million (give or take a couple million but who's counting) folks will become uninsured, underinsured and lose everything to a bankruptcy filing because medical bills cannot be paid. Now, consider that the 47 million plus who are presently in these categories cause hospitals to overcharge patients who are insured (to cover the cost for treating uninsured Americans who, for example, use the emergency rooms as a private doctor's office). This is reported to be about $1,000.00 per covered patient. So what will occur if nothing is done, and done pronto, is that millions more Americans will be unable to seek health care for their diseases and illnesses. And those millions more that do get to the emergency room will only make it more costly for those of us who still have insurance because we will be paying even more than $1,000.00 per patient. In the end, if we think our nation is unhealthy because of our lifestyles (obese because of eating too much, then smoking or drinking too much, etc.), what happens when 100 million Americans cannot be treated for their diseases and illnesses?

Now, politicians don't like to do anything until after the fact - - - just look at the Wall Street bailout fiasco. With health care, our elected representatives have a chance once and for all to be proactive. For heaven's sake, they need a kick in the pants from all us voters to do this - - - and to understand what is happening "in the trenches" throughout America. Next week in Washington can certainly be a start! To be sure, however, to do nothing or to further procrastinate will be utter failure to reform a system that is already broken - - - for perhaps millions more Americans who can't get health care or health care coverage. If politicians think that waiting another decade to fix things, heaven help them (us too). The sine qua non of waiting again is certain disaster. There will be no manna from heaven by waiting any longer. With how both houses of Congress and the president are aligned, the "perfect storm" for reforming health care is upon all of us.

At the end of the day, what cures a broken system intended to benefit every single American and those in earnest wanting to become citizens is effective competition among the private and public sectors so that each one of us can choose the option that is best for our particular circumstances. After all, no competitor who wants our business should be fearful of competition if the product and services it offers is quality-based and is affordably priced. But we know that those in the business of providing health care and health care insurance don't see it that way, since competition of the sort being proposed to reform health care now (with a public option) will reduce the bottom lines. Or perhaps those present bottom lines are a result of charges that are bloated with too much 'pork' from a system that has charged too much for too long? The only way to change the status quo is for all Americans to "stand up and be counted". Remember the movie, "Network" where the famous line there was, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any longer"? Well, for Americans today debating health care reform, that line is only too applicable. One other point in conclusion: ask a Member of Congress what type of health insurance he or she has? Betcha it is a public plan that is the best taxpayer money can buy. Trouble is, perhaps, our elected representatives don't want the voters that put them in office to have the option of having what keeps them and their families healthy.

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