Politicians Mangle Health Reform
This commentary will appear in the last edition of the 2009 Tradewinds, national award-winning newsletter of Air Transport Employees, Local Lodge 1781, IAMAW. Finamore is former President (ret).
By Carl Finamore
At Tradewinds' November press deadline, Congress is still debating healthcare reform. So far, supporters have succeeded in scuttling any serious government role in offering affordable coverage as already provided to seniors and veterans who, according to numerous polls, overwhelmingly approve of the quality of their care.
Lies and falsehoods are spread by forked-tongued mouthpieces on the payroll of an insurance industry that relishes its monopoly in most of the country. According to the AFL-CIO, "profits at 10 of the country's largest publicly traded health insurance companies rose 428 percent from 2000 to 2007, while consumers paid more for less coverage."
Yet, there is absolutely no price controls in the new legislation to bring down these rising costs.
Most unions favor a Single-Payer plan resembling low-cost, high-quality government systems in Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. But since advocates for Single-Payer House Resolution 676 were not even allowed a seat at the table by either the Senate or , our hopes shifted to at least obtaining a "robust public option."
A government "public option" would be the only competitive restraint on private insurance companies continuing to raise prices. But now, it seems, our hopes have been dashed here as well. A constant cacophony of white noise coming from conservatives has clouded and confused the central issue which is that protecting one's health is too important to be left to those who financially benefit from reducing your coverage once you get sick.
This is why the Fire Departments. When our house is burning we do not want to quarrel over the phone about whether we paid our last bill or whether we have the specific coverage required to put the fire out. operate our
Supporters of "Medicare for All," as Congressman Anthony Weiner (NY) calls his Single-Payer legislation, believe a person's health is every bit as important as one's house and warrants, at a minimum, comparable government protection.
"Public Option" legislation currently being considered would only insure around 6 million people under 65 by the year 2019. This is a negligible amount and will neither provide universal healthcare nor lower costs. Instead of being eligible for the "public option," everyone would be required by the proposed House legislation to obtain private medical care, a huge boon to insurance profiteers.
Opponents of government healthcare are the same folks who tried to scare us away from government Medicare in the 1960s and the same folks who tried to convert government into private, individual Wall St. 401K deposits. Where would be today after the recent stock market crash if we listened to these doomsayers?
Anyone who works in industry should have deep skepticism about arguments that we should stake our futures on private companies. We in the airlines, for one, do not trust the so-called free-enterprise system where corporations only seem "free" to squeeze a profit any chance they get without any regard for our lives
As someone who had his private Company pension thrown overboard by selfish airline executives and who thankfully had social security to fall back on, I'll take my chances with a government health plan thank you very much.