With GM spending more on health care than steel and Starbucks spending more on health care than beans, you'd think that every business in the country would see how they could be more competitive on a global basis if they did not have to be in the health insurance business.
I am a small business owner. As a scrappy start up in film and radio, I have not yet been able to afford to offer health care benefits through our company. And this has left my employees and myself with sleepless nights, scrambling to find affordable individual coverage. And when I say scramble, I mean scramble, as "pre-existing conditions" have determined the rates and sometimes fates of finding coverage at all.
But it also makes me think about every individual who has had to take or stay in a dead-end job solely because they needed group health insurance. Does such a system promote greatness in companies and maximize the true talents and passions of our most valuable resource...our citizens?
I am not an expert on health care reform. But I am an individual who is sick and tired of having one industry have so much control over my personal and business life. There is great irony in that those against a public option argue that they don't want government to have more control than it currently does. Well I would much rather have a government option than continue in the hands of an industry driven solely by profits. One that has repeatedly screwed the public and laughed all the way to the bank.
As discussed in my recent interview with Howard Dean, private industry (and its well paid supporters) has had more than enough time to fix the system and is now scrambling to protect its profits. Watch and listen carefully as they continue to spend boatloads of money to convince you that a public option is not necessary and something to fear. Count the number of times you hear phrases like "rationed care", "socialized medicine" and issue dodging like blaming current costs on malpractice suits (less than 2 percent of the total health care costs).
If you doubt this, check out and share Bill Moyers' shocking interview with former Cigna CEO Wendell Potter. You will see the very calculated PR campaign that industry is using to scare the daylights out you and Congress. Given recent events, it appears to be working.
(Shortly after watching the Moyers/Potter interview, I saw former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson and Congressman Paul Ryan mouthing many of the "catch" phrases identified by Wendell Potter. And it made my face burn with shame that they were from my lovely state of Wisconsin.)
The opposition continues to shout their well-rehearsed lines and fails to acknowledge the most beautiful part of this entire proposal. That the public option is just that...an option. If you happen to be one of the fortunate ones who likes your current coverage, you get to keep it. This isn't scary -- it's liberating.
I am a business owner and I support a public health option. I wish the administration did too.
Footnote: Given my former career pushing pills, I can definitely relate to Wendell Potter's angst. For a disturbing behind-the-scenes look at Big Pharma (and to get a sense of why they like things just as they are) I've put my film "Money Talks: Profits Before Patient Safety" online for FREE. Please use it to educate in any way possible.