While all eyes are on Washington, on the collapse of the Bush administration and the danger America faces from these wounded Republicans, on the war in Iraq and rumors of wars. While we focus on a premature Presidential campaign which is taking our eyes off the ball and distracting us from the real work at hand, many states are striking out on their own.
While it may seem as a joke and as traditional conservatives are laughing behind their hands at the Federal paralysis they've wrought, state government is still government!
States are moving quickly on global warming and health care. California has a health care bill working and here in Oregon, which made physician-assisted death a health matter, rather than a moral one, a bill has been introduced which makes a lot of sense.
The front man for the bill is former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber (D), himself an M.D. The bill has this simple statement, which blows away all of the complexities that the medical industry throws at us, "the objective of our health care system is health, not just the financing and delivery of health care services."
Oh yeah. The object is not making money for the medical industry. What a concept!
The law "Requires (the) Governor, within 90 days of passage of Act, to request congressional approval to redirect federal moneys into (a newly formed) Oregon Health Fund." That means all of the money that the federal government feeds to the state would go to a central fund which includes, "(a) Medicare funds under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act; (b) Medicaid funds under Title XIX of the Social Security Act; (c) General Fund moneys that would otherwise be spent in the Medicaid program; and (d) The value of state tax expenditures for employer-sponsored health insurance coverage."
The law argues that, "the ability of states to maintain the public's health is increasingly constrained by those federal policies, which were built around 'categories' rather than a commitment to ensure all citizens have timely access to the effective treatment of essential health conditions."
Federal policies were written by those beholden to the medical industry, not to insure the health of Americans but to make money for that medical industry.
The proposed Oregon law recognizes that, "clinging to the system of employer-sponsored coverage as it is currently structured is not an option," and similarly, "that clinging to the current structure of Medicaid is not an option." It aims to, "eliminate the need for a special program for the poor by ensuring that all Oregonians, including the most vulnerable members of our society, have access to treatment for at least the same defined set of essential health conditions."
The bill goes on to explain the nuts and bolts of how the Fund would administer health care. Read it for yourself.
While Congress talks itself to death, some states are actually doing something about health care, our most important problem.
The organization pushing the Oregon bill is We Can Do Better. This bill may or may not be the best solution, but it's an open and honest one. One that has just one objective: to keep us healthy and get us health care that doesn't bankrupt us.
The medical industry has had its day. It's time to put the brakes on them. Overtime.