Our Senators should know better. Both of them continue to misrepresent the people of Louisiana on this issue, though they are doing a fantastic job of representing the private insurance lobby.

The Public Option Is Not A Political Issue; It Is A Human Rights Issue:

I am a 27 year old with cerebral palsy. Fortunately, my disability is very mild, and it does not affect cognition. I have degrees in Religious Studies and English from Rice University, and I’ve spent the past two and a half years working as the special assistant to the Mayor of Alexandria, Louisiana.

Until I was ten years old, I was covered by my family’s private health care plan, Traveler’s Insurance. Because of my disability, I spent much of my childhood either in hospitals or in physical therapy.Picture 4

I was fortunate to be born into a family that recognized the power of preventative, pediatric intervention and treatment. For most kids with CP, it is absolutely crucial to ensure that bones can grow correctly, which usually requires rounds of orthopedic and/or neurological surgery and years of hands-on physical therapy.

At ten years old, Traveler’s told my family that I was no longer eligible for coverage.

At ten years old, I was told that, essentially, I was the best I could ever be; as I recall, they specifically refused any additional payments for physical therapy.

I had metal screws and metal plates in my body– things that were implanted as temporary fixes, as a way of guiding and instructing my growth, things that needed to come out.

My disability is somewhat unique and rare, and as a result, it was and remains difficult to find a doctor who thoroughly understands proper treatment. When I was very young, I was treated by a neurosurgeon, T.S. Park, who was recently featured by NBC Nightly News for conducting rhizotomies, a procedure that I was one of the first in the world to receive (paid for, in part, by my family’s private insurance company). Afterward and until the age of about 15, I was treated by Dr. Jim Gage of Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon roundly considered one of the world’s top experts in cerebral palsy. (After I lost my health care coverage, Dr. Gage remained one of my champions, providing me with medical care, no doubt, at a loss).

So I lost my insurance when I was ten, and my parents were making (barely) too much money for me to get government insurance. They tried to get me included in other private insurance plans, but I was always summarily rejected.

I was uninsurable.

And I had screws and plates in my body that needed to come out. I had other surgeries that were needed. I had physical therapy too. Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in needed treatment.

There was only one solution at the time: My parents had to relinquish custody of me to my grandparents, who made less money than my family, in order to qualify me for Medicaid. I had to move out of my family home, away from my brother and my sister and my mom and dad, for an entire year.

You can say that I cheated the system, I suppose, except that “the system” allowed and actually encouraged such action. (Fair warning: If you believe I somehow cheated, then I will immediately dismiss you as inhumane. After all, I was ten years old, disabled, with screws in my bones, and in obvious need of medical care).

I don’t pay into any privatized health care plan in my current job because I fear losing the paltry plan I have today– public insurance that runs nearly $200 a month.

Access to health care should be considered a fundamental human right. And in the richest country in the history of our planet, this access should be unfettered and should include the services of the best professionals in their fields.

More importantly, this fundamental right to access should never be predicated on the whims and desires of a for-profit corporation.

When taking a stand against the public option, you are effectively standing against the poor, the elderly, the infirm, and the disabled. Period.

And most importantly: I know that I am not entirely unique. I know there are, right now, kids just like I used to be, kids filing through the doors of our publicly-subsidized hospitals, kids whose families can only hope that their child will be able to see the doctor who drove up in a Porsche (this, to be sure, is my experience with a certain doctor), kids who are deemed uninsurable, and kids who will never have the opportunities that I had because, fortunately, despite my disability, I belong to a family who believed in exhausting every option.

Today, because of the care I was provided, I am able to live independently. I walk without aid. I drive my own vehicle to work.

I have traveled the world. I snow ski in the Rockies. I have scuba-dived into the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, explored caves in the Galapagos, and “backpacked” through Europe. In a few months, I plan to be in Africa on a safari.

Without the care with which I was provided as a child, I would be confined and restricted, spastic and stationary.

Please be forewarned: Although I have never (seriously) asked for you guys and gals to come together to fundraise for a cause, I understand now that we can make an impact on this issue with only $10,000. I firmly believe that in the course of one or two months, we can raise much more toward a good cause.

PS22 sings “Don’t Stop Believing”:

Stay tuned.

19 thoughts

  1. Lamar,

    Your are (unfortunately for you) a great argument against your own cause. You are walking, talking proof that our system, flawed though it may be, can and does work (if not always). I am not unsympathetic to the cause of the uninsured/underinsured, and in your case, uninsurable, I have been there myself.

    All of my children were birthed with Medicaid funding. We were a poor/broke university family. Again, proof that our system does work, flawed though it may be. During my working career, I’ve used prohibitively expensive employer-subsidized plans, then rejected those plans based on cost. Finally, in only the last couple of years, the military has finally provided reservists with an affordable option (the DOD, after 100+ years realizes that keeping it’s reservists in good health, DOES have a positive impact on the all important factor – readiness.) So, thanks to all the taxpayers out there for that.

    However, having a public, universal coverage plan directly compete with private plans will destroy the private plans. Once the private plans are destroyed, “single payer” will be a fact of life. Once that happens, rationed care and decreased quality of medical care will occur – it is inevitable. Bureaucrats will be making medical decisions, period. I just want everyone to understand that this is an immutable fact.

    I wish there was a viable alternative to capitalism. Unfortunately, there isn’t.

    1. Ace:

      We already have rationed care. We pay 50% more for the same care that other industrialized nations provide their people. Hell, their people are living LONGER than we are, and paying half the cost!

      Our system does NOT work. It’s broken, especially when 47 million of our citizens do not have health insurance. That’s nearly 1/6 of our people. If you think it works, then let me know what you’re smoking.

    2. Ace, I am not proof of the system “working.” I am proof of a family working and a system rigged to fail. For decades, we have allowed people to couch health care as an economic issue, when it is, in fact, a basic human right.

      1. Lamar,

        Much like other discussions, it is complicated. In our system (and I don’t want to get into defending the status quo in this case – I can’t), you and your family managed to get the care you needed. My father is still alive. In Canada, my father would be dead. He needed a bypass operation that would have been a 6 month to a year wait in Canada. Dr. Dewitt consulted with him on a Monday, and they did the surgery the following Thursday.

        Our system has weaknesses. The pharmaceutical companies have far too much influence with the doctors in the trenches (GPs, OB/GYNs and Peds, particularly). Many of the hospital corporations have unrealistic demands. The private insurers and HMOs have not done themselves any favors in their treatment of their customers.

        But world leaders rarely sneak out of their countries in the middle of the night to seek medical treatment in Europe (occasionally Sweden or Great Britain). They come to the U.S. if they want the best, latest, most proven treatment. The “profitability” of medicine in the U.S. attracts a higher quality of talent, particularly in surgery and research, than in many places. Americans aren’t losing the “life expectancy” contest with the rest of the industrialized world because our health care system is inadequate. We live like Americans, and, unfortunately, our lifestyle choices result in lower lifespans, relative to Canada/Europe.

        I think the fear (according to President Obama’s speech) is that we will screw up what’s good about the system, in any major overhaul, and this “screw up” will dwarf any benefit in increased coverage. The U.S. federal government, to its discredit, has done so poorly, with so many things, over such a long period of time, and so reliably, that this fear has a significant “gravitas”.

        As far as the “basic human right” question: It is my understanding that emergency rooms cannot deny treatment based on the inability to pay. So, beyond treatment for life-threatening conditions, how far does this right extend? Do we stop at life threatening conditions? Do we add serious, long-term debilitating conditions such as developmental disabilities, cerebal palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis? Are all people “entitled” to the most expensive, most advanced treatement, or merely “adequate” treatment? Who will decide who is entitled to what, and for how long?

        Is everyone entitled to uniformly “poor”, “mediocre” or “adequate” health care? I’m not saying it’s an easy question. I’m saying the opposite.

  2. “Universal health care is implemented in all but one of the wealthy, industrialized countries, with the exception being the United States.[1][2] It is also provided in many developing countries and is the trend worldwide.”

    Interested in seeing how many other countries have UHC, I found this on Wikipedia. It is interesting that out of all wealthy, industrialized countries, the U.S. is the only one that does not have a Universal Health Care Plan. I have always been a fan of having a UHC plan. Everyone should be covered. Everyone should have access to the doctors and treatment they need. We (the US) waste so much money on other junk, I don’t see why we couldn’t cut the crap and thereby fund a UHC plan. That is my uneducated opinion.

    Andrea

  3. Ace,

    This is free enterprise “working?” Lamar loses his health insurance, and manages to get top notch care from his docs, whose benevolence, I might add, at least in reference to Lamar, is beyond reproach. This, to put it mildly, is not capitalism. It’s charity. I’ll ask this one for you Ace: Lamar, do you think the docs deserve to be paid for their work?

  4. I strongly feel we should have some sort of blanket medical insurance for everyone. But not government run or supervised. What the anwser is I do not know. Young couples with children today do not get married because they would be denied medical treatment for their children if they did. They can not even begin to afford medical insurance at the rates charged by the robber baron insurance companys. The only semi-safe people in the medical blanket are seniors with medicare. Yet they sometimes quickly use up their medicine insurance coverage and end up having to pay prices for medicine that substains their life at a sky-high cost once the reach their limit. Our medical and medical insurance and drug company’s are bloated profit making jugernauts.
    There is no easy fix. By the time a plan is formed it ends up full of
    graft and nonsense. I would not even begin to think our current congresmen and senators would come up with anything that would fairly cover everyone. I wish with all my heart it could happen, but I really dont think everyone could come together for a true humanatarian effort.
    The plans in Canada and other country’s are as flawed as our system. There are always people who get left out in the cold, so to speak.
    In my mind I can only wish.

  5. I thank everyone for their comments and insight.

    Ace, I want to respond point by point to this comment:

    Lamar,

    Much like other discussions, it is complicated. In our system (and I don’t want to get into defending the status quo in this case – I can’t), you and your family managed to get the care you needed. My father is still alive. In Canada, my father would be dead. He needed a bypass operation that would have been a 6 month to a year wait in Canada. Dr. Dewitt consulted with him on a Monday, and they did the surgery the following Thursday.

    With all due respect, this is an absurd argument. How do you know your father would be DEAD if he were in Canada? It’s total conjecture based on nothing but a preconceived notion about wait times. C’mon Ace, I know you’re smarter than this.

    Our system has weaknesses. The pharmaceutical companies have far too much influence with the doctors in the trenches (GPs, OB/GYNs and Peds, particularly). Many of the hospital corporations have unrealistic demands. The private insurers and HMOs have not done themselves any favors in their treatment of their customers.

    Amen.

    But world leaders rarely sneak out of their countries in the middle of the night to seek medical treatment in Europe (occasionally Sweden or Great Britain). They come to the U.S. if they want the best, latest, most proven treatment. The “profitability” of medicine in the U.S. attracts a higher quality of talent, particularly in surgery and research, than in many places. Americans aren’t losing the “life expectancy” contest with the rest of the industrialized world because our health care system is inadequate. We live like Americans, and, unfortunately, our lifestyle choices result in lower lifespans, relative to Canada/Europe.

    Again, with all due respect, you completely miss the central point: Our end-of-life care is AWESOME because it’s an amazing profit center for hospitals and doctors, but preventative care is atrocious; you can blame it on “lifestyle” choices, but ultimately, preventative care aims to reduce those liabilities by directly caring for the living, not simply the dying.

    I think the fear (according to President Obama’s speech) is that we will screw up what’s good about the system, in any major overhaul, and this “screw up” will dwarf any benefit in increased coverage. The U.S. federal government, to its discredit, has done so poorly, with so many things, over such a long period of time, and so reliably, that this fear has a significant “gravitas”.

    What has the United States Government done so poorly with? We spend the vast majority of our tax dollars protecting and defending our country. Have we done poorly in that regard? To me, this is a Trojan Horse of an argument, an argument filled with sound and fury but signifying nothing.

    As far as the “basic human right” question: It is my understanding that emergency rooms cannot deny treatment based on the inability to pay. So, beyond treatment for life-threatening conditions, how far does this right extend? Do we stop at life threatening conditions?

    No.

    Do we add serious, long-term debilitating conditions such as developmental disabilities, cerebal palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis?

    Are you serious? Seriously.

    Ace, I don’t know you, but I have always respected your insight. However, I don’t know how on earth you think it is appropriate to challenge or question whether or not the treatment of CHILDREN with those disabilities is appropriate. M.D. and C.P. are disabilities that must be addressed and treated at an early age.

    I am trying not to be offended, but to be honest, it is difficult.

    Are all people “entitled” to the most expensive, most advanced treatement, or merely “adequate” treatment? Who will decide who is entitled to what, and for how long?”

    We live in the richest country in the history of the world. We are all entitled to the best care that our society can provide.

    1. Lamar,

      I appreciate the discussion, and I certainly didn’t mean to offend. My father would most likely be dead in Canada, in my opinion, because he would have experienced a wait time to see a specialist, and another wait time to have the procedure, and he just didn’t have time to wait. In another system, resources might not be expended to prolong the life of a 67 year old (and, maybe from a social cost-benefit analysis, they shouldn’t, but that’s an argument for a different time).

      I’m not challenging the notion that those conditions warrant treatment at a young age. But, I was asking the tough questions as to how far health care as a “basic human right” extends. Because, as you have framed the argument, the government (i.e. you and I and all of the taxpayers) is going to have to provide this “basic human right” at no additional cost to the patient.

      Does it extend to treatment of obesity? Does it extend to the treatment of conditions resulting from a lifetime of smoking? Does it extend to mental health care? Does it extend to the treatment of the effects of drug or alcohol abuse? Does it extend to vanity procedures?

      I am asking these questions because the market is in play, to a certain degree, with many of these. If the direct cost (as we know, under single payer, the cost of the entire system will be distributed over the taxpaying population, in proportion to their share of the payroll tax, income tax, a new tax or some combination thereof) associated with some of these care issues, then no one will choose not to have the procedures, thus vastly increasing the demand for medical care, across the board. (This is where the rationed part comes in.)

      I’m not saying that I like the current system, because those who are better off, financially, get a better deal in the system generally. But, isn’t that true across the board? Those with more resources have better transportation, entertainment and housing choices. Under our system is it that shocking that it also extends to health care?

      There are cracks and weaknesses in the current system. However, I guess that those of us who oppose a government takeover or any “single payer” system are of the mindset, “better the devil you know.” It will not be better if we change, it will just be different, with different cracks and weaknesses.

      (On the point about defense spending – first off, it’s a constitutional mandate and there’s no one else to do it. Secondly, the Pentagon is certainly not the model of efficiency. We are a highly capable force, but at a premium price.

      No, my point was domestically, the IRS, ATF, FEMA, TSA, even the relatively well regarded FBI, NASA, at least until recently, have suffered from a justified perception of incompetence and inefficiency. Quasi-federal entities like the Federal Reserve, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are also good reasons not to involve the U.S. government unless absolutely necessary. Does the U.S. Congress fill you with confidence in their actions? Does the U.S. Supreme Court? Does the Administration? These are the people you are entrusting your health and the health of your children on the path you propose.)

  6. When you assemble a group of people totally unqualified and to run any type of business in a progressive way , it’s normally, Goverment run. 🙂
    But I understand your feelings, because I was blocked from medical insurance because of those words, “pre-existing condition”
    Also paid out of pocket a considerable amount for a heart stint, even though I had what I thought was a good policy at the time.
    .
    Its a wonderful world we try to live in, sometimes…

  7. Lamar, I’m impressed with your candor. You’ve told me this story before, and I’ve known that because of your personal experiences you have long been a champion of universal health care. Sharing your story like this demonstrates courage. Personal stories like yours are the motivation to continue to fight for real change that improves lives.

    As a graduate student pursuing a Master’s degree in public health, I feel that I have to jump into this thread with my two cents.

    The best article I have read so far about health care reform, which President Obama has made required reading for his entire staff, is Atul Gawande’s recent article in The New Yorker:
    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/06/01/090601fa_fact_gawande.

    Ace is correct: This is a very complicated issue. Everyone has stories that can be told to demonstrate both the failures and successes of our system or other systems, or competing plans. That’s why we can’t allow this debate to be sabotaged by individual [hypothetical] stories like the “Harry and Louise” attack ads did in 1993: personal antidotes can be easily manipulated.

    Indeed statistics are also easily manipulated, but, unlike in 1993, no one can manipulate the statistics to say that there is no health care crisis. There is: 47 million Americans uninsured. 17% of GDP spent on health care (which I believe is the most in the world, both by percentage and amount). Falling productivity and rising employment costs due to our employment based health care system. GM spent more on health care for its workers than on steel. Then it went bankrupt.

    Some dangerous myths often repeated, including in the comments to this blog:

    1) That government run health care (and other programs) is inefficient, corrupt and of poor quality
    2) That the uninsured and under-insured get adequate care in ERs
    3) That Obama is attempting to socialize medicine in the United States and therefore destroy competition creating a nationalized system inevitably leading to rationed care
    4) Everyone comes to America to get quality care because our system is so great, 5) Americans are unhealthier than residents of other countries because of poor lifestyle choices

    1) The Veterans Administration system was terrible in the 90s. It was the leading example of why government run health care (or government run anything) was bad at the core. However, due to a complete shift to EMRs (Electronic Medical Records), increased funding, improved Quality Assurance mechanisms, a push for Evidence Based Medicine, and emphasis on preventative care, now the VA is arguably the best health care system in the world. In his well researched book, Best Care Anywhere (2007), Phillip Longman explains the reasons for the drastic improvement. I know that many veterans can respond to this assertion with a number of horror stories about the VA, including how difficult it is to actually qualify for a number of types of care. No system is perfect. It just happens that the VA is the best.

    Also, the idea that the postal service and public schools are inherently terrible is a myth. The postal service actually offers an incredible service for great rates. Public schools do an amazing job of educating children considering how underfunded they are. We get what we pay for. When we underfund public schools, is it any surprise that they do so poorly? In many states (unfortunately not ours) public schools are fantastic. I was educated K-12 in public school, and I turned out alright. In fact, I graduated from the best high school in the state of Louisiana, the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, which is government run.

    2) It is true that ERs are required by law to stabilize all patients that enter their doors, and 911 is required by law to pick up anyone with a medical emergency. However, this results in their system being clogged and wait times dramatically increased. The answer to this is not more private insurance or a public option. It is community based clinics that provide primary care and preventative services. Too many folks go to the ER for non-emergencies that drive costs up for everyone. This is why Obama’s multi-pronged approach is the only approach that can work: 1) Bring the uninsured, underinsured and uninsurable into the system through the public option, 2) Bolster Evidence Based Medicine (which he’s done partially through billions provided in the Stimulus for EMRs and research) to bring down costs, 3) Invest in prevention and primary care to bring down costs.

    3) A public option will not destroy the private insurance industry, but it will change it, arguably for the better. Private insurance will have to respond to its new competition, that guarantees coverage for everyone. The public option is partially for people that the private plans won’t insure anyway. It will fill the huge gaps. The private companies will be forced to become more efficient, offer better deals, and pursue the cost-saving strategies that the VA has put in place. Those that cannot survive will fail. In fact, the private option should create a great deal of revenue for private doctors, clinics and hospitals, because it will bring a great deal more folks into their doors who never would have come in. Those private plans that figure out how to make money off of more preventative and primary care will thrive.

    4) The idea that “world leaders rarely sneak out of their countries in the middle of the night to seek medical treatment” in other countries besides the US belongs to the mythology of the past. It is based on American exceptionalism, which is a dangerous paradigm, that posits that America and her services/army/system/policies is/are better for the mere fact that it is American. There is nothing inherently better about American things or society. That must be proven empirically. Indeed, in my three years in Asia (including India, with its mixed system of government hospitals and private fee-for-service) I saw an entire range of quality of care. Some better than ours, others worse. All cheaper. The current data suggests that more people, Americans included, are seeking care outside of America based on cost and quality: Here are three articles demonstrating that fact:
    http://caffertyfile.blogs.cnn.com/2009/05/19/willing-to-travel-internationally-for-medical-care/.

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1171024/getting_medical_treatment_at_a_private.html

    5) Ace writes: “Americans aren’t losing the “life expectancy” contest with the rest of the industrialized world because our health care system is inadequate. We live like Americans, and, unfortunately, our lifestyle choices result in lower lifespans, relative to Canada/Europe.” That is also a fallacy. Though the United States has the highest obesity rate of all industrialized nations, the US has “among the lowest rates of smoking and alcoholism, and we are in the middle of the range for cardiovascular disease and diabetes” (Gawande, 2009).

    Some global stats, from http://www.photius.com/rankings/:

    The USA now ranks 41st for life expectancy at birth, at 78 years, putting us behind such industrialized nations as Jordan, Puerto Rico, Guam, Bosnia, and Bermuda.

    The reasons why life expectancies in the US are lower that other industrialized nations are complicated, but the most compelling is the lack of primary care and preventative medicine in the US. Why? Because a fee-for-service system doesn’t reward primary care. It rewards expensive procedures.

    All aspects of the system are complicit, which is why Obama has taken the correct approach by trying to bring all the players to the table.

    Read Atul Gawande’s article. It explains a lot, and his answer is unexpected. I’ll end with an excerpt: “Providing health care is like building a house. The task requires experts, expensive equipment and materials, and a huge amount of coördination. Imagine that, instead of paying a contractor to pull a team together and keep them on track, you paid an electrician for every outlet he recommends, a plumber for every faucet, and a carpenter for every cabinet. Would you be surprised if you got a house with a thousand outlets, faucets, and cabinets, at three times the cost you expected, and the whole thing fell apart a couple of years later? Getting the country’s best electrician on the job (he trained at Harvard, somebody tells you) isn’t going to solve this problem. Nor will changing the person who writes him the check.

    This last point is vital. Activists and policymakers spend an inordinate amount of time arguing about whether the solution to high medical costs is to have government or private insurance companies write the checks. Here’s how this whole debate goes. Advocates of a public option say government financing would save the most money by having leaner administrative costs and forcing doctors and hospitals to take lower payments than they get from private insurance. Opponents say doctors would skimp, quit, or game the system, and make us wait in line for our care; they maintain that private insurers are better at policing doctors. No, the skeptics say: all insurance companies do is reject applicants who need health care and stall on paying their bills. Then we have the economists who say that the people who should pay the doctors are the ones who use them. Have consumers pay with their own dollars, make sure that they have some “skin in the game,” and then they’ll get the care they deserve. These arguments miss the main issue. When it comes to making care better and cheaper, changing who pays the doctor will make no more difference than changing who pays the electrician. The lesson of the high-quality, low-cost communities is that someone has to be accountable for the totality of care. Otherwise, you get a system that has no brakes.”

    An Obama is on to that final point. In the end, with or without a public option, changing the way Americans seek health care and the way doctors are compensated are parts of the final solution. It is complicated, and will take a long time and a lot of money to fix.

    Now go call Mary Landrieu and demand that public option!!!

    1. Ace asks this: Does it extend to treatment of obesity? Does it extend to the treatment of conditions resulting from a lifetime of smoking? Does it extend to mental health care? Does it extend to the treatment of the effects of drug or alcohol abuse? Does it extend to vanity procedures?

      Here is an even tougher question..should the government supply health care to people who contract cancer because they live in a part of the County that has “cancer clusters”?

      My family has no history of cancer and yet 3 years after moving to Louisiana I became another statistic. Where did my cancer come from? Me or the incredibly toxic enviroment I live in.

      Take a look at the EPA website and plug in your zipcode, it is pretty chilling.

      I was raised to believe in the common good and sometimes you are on the receiving end and sometimes the giving. That is the reality. If you are driving a car or living behind a levee system you benefit from tax dollars at work. And sometimes not at work.

      The point is, there is an incredibly broken system and it needs to be fixed.

      http://change-congress.org/mary/

      Thanks Lamar for telling your story, we should not have to come forth with the very private details of our private lives to claim our dignity.

  8. Man I must say,I don’t know if this site is always like this,but to read the comments of both sides and the way you discuss the issues was refreshing. No name calling just strait talk.Some how if our elected officials could do the same we could get something done.I’m feeling you can take what works,and fix what doesn’t to better the whole system.I hope that’s what happens.I know that now there are private plans that don’t cover everything and has overall limits to pay outs.I’m not sure you can put a plan together that pays 100% and forever without all of us paying something into the system.I’d be more than willing to pay to insure all AMERICANS get the health care they need.But the uninsured are not just AMERICANS so who picks up the tab for them?Would the cost saving provide enough saving to bring them in also?I’ll bookmark this site to see what other opinions there are out there.

  9. To Karen Gadbois:

    I am honored that you commented on this issue on my blog. I am a big fan of your work on Squandered Heritage, and with all respect to Lee Zurik, they should have given you a Peabody as well.

    I put out my own personal story on purpose. I made a conscious decision, and as such, I do not feel as if I am revealing my private life as a way of asserting my own dignity. I know, beyond any doubt, that I belong to a much larger community of people who struggle to access health care– rich and poor, young and old, gay and straight, black, white, Hispanic, Asian and native American. And Karen, I know you will agree: We are all dignified.

    To Michael Smith:

    Thank you for saying it better than I ever could. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You and your twin are two of the most brilliant people I have ever encountered, and Louisiana is lucky to have such compassionate, intelligent, and empathetic people living and working within its borders.

  10. This argument against a Public Option ignores some simple economics.

    1. Universal Health care is a must. We know we have to have it. We actually currently do have some sort of system with the uninsured seeking care where and when they can find it. Of course many cannot find it. But those who do receive either free care, indigent care, or medicaid receive that care while inadvertently passing on those expenses to taxpayers or those who can pay (and now pay more).

    2. A public option — one run by the government adds a second layer of competition. If government provides an allowance for health car expenditures, and then offers their own coverage at that amount, then competition will increase and simple economics will cause the prices of competing insurance providers to fall. Whether you use government or private insurance, everyone will pay less in the end.

    3. Somebody’s got to pay for it. With a public option the taxpayers pick up part of the tab but can benefit from it. Otherwise either employers or workers have to pay for everything.

    I don’t believe health care, nor education, nor law enforcement, nor any slew of a number of basic services should be money making ventures. The profit from such systems should be a society-wide profit not a monetary plus for a single company or agency. Certain things should be available to everyone and certain things are worth paying taxes for.

  11. Do you feel good when your taxes pay for your neighbor’s welfare? Probably so if he is truly in need. All prior presidents even Clinton tried to restrict welfare to only those in need. None have ever come close to that goal, but it makes for good politics. Obama and the dems have learned that they can buy any election with welfare addicted voters.
    Now Obama wants you to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage, government-owned banks, and Union-owned auto makers; all unconstitutional while the watch dogs(press) salivate at his glance allowing him to turn the most powerful country in the world into a USSR style failure. Just when you think someone might start complaining(or at least tell the truth) about this peaceful destruction of our country, Obama says he wants taxpayers and their employers to pay for those same neighbor’s who don’t have health insurance. These communists also want to take over the energy industry with “cap and trade”! If the press doesn’t start waking up the sleeping electorate with the truth, nothing will stop the take over. Soon when taxpayers cannot pay for all of the Obama/dem voters’ bills they will have but two choices: 1. Join the addiction and hold their hands out or, 2. Leave. No one will work with 90% taxes or for a communist government. Everytime we pay federal taxes today, we are contributing to the take over of the United States of America unless we can stop the take over!

    Let’s show the Obama-lead take over that we will not allow this to continue on July 4th at Guinn Auditorium Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana from 11:00 to 1:00. Bring some tea.

    1. Sheesh.

      What kind of tea should we bring? Iced tea? Earl Grey? Green?

      You’re so right, George Bennett. Bush would have never bailed out the banks or the auto companies.

      Oh, wait….

      I know you guys are all in denial about this, but Barack Obama was elected President of the United States on November 4, 2008. Pretty solid margin too.

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