Thursday, September 10, 2009

Healthcare Reform Now

Healthcare Reform Now by Charlotte Waldo

During the August recess, our representative Sam Farr held several town hall meetings and forums regarding healthcare insurance reform. Congressman Farr met the highly inflammatory statements and questions of anti-reformers with reasoned, intelligent answers. There are a lot of special interests who are working overtime to kill healthcare reform. These interests are spreading deliberate lies about death panels, rationing of Medicare and in the latest round, saying that healthcare reform will lead to breast cancer. That some of these lies are taking hold speaks to the fact we need to do more work talking to our neighbors and families about what healthcare reform really means.

According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. spends more money on healthcare than any nation in the world, and yet we are ranked 37th when it comes to quality of healthcare. For over 90 years, progressives have called to reform our healthcare system so more people have affordable access to it. Now is the time to pass meaningful healthcare legislation, but that will only happen if we keep up the pressure on our leaders to stand firm and do our part to educate people about the real stakes. Today, 47 million are uninsured, and even those fortunate enough to have insurance face premiums and co-pays that have spiraled out of control.

There are many progressive provisions of healthcare reform shaping up in both houses. These provisions include prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and getting rid of lifetime spending caps on plans.

The major sticking point is the public option. The idea is that a public insurance plan would compete with private insurance companies. Advocates argue that this is a more cost effective way to treat people, citing the relatively low administrative costs of another government-run insurance plan, Medicare. If a person likes their insurance plan, they can keep it, or they can choose from a variety of insurance plans, including a public option. The Obama administration and many healthcare experts have stated that this is the best way to keep private insurance costs down.

Opponents of healthcare reform, including the most powerful insurance lobbyists are fighting tooth and nail against a public option. They argue that this plan is too costly and that private insurance could not compete with a non-profit public insurance. As of this writing, the Obama administration has indicated that while they still support the idea of a public option, they are willing to consider other reform measures. Obama will be addressing the nation this week and we will be getting a clearer understanding on where he stands on the public option and other reform measures.

As our representatives go back to Congress, we need to make sure that they understand that the majority of their constituents want health care reform now. As the Democratic Women’s Club, we have already sent letters to Representatives Farr and Eshoo and Senators Feinstein and Boxer encouraging them to support a public health care option. You can also help by writing the President and our representatives demanding that they pass a reform bill that insures quality, affordable healthcare for all.

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