The president and the members of Congress continue to double talk us and make health care more about the game of politics than the grief of people struggling with debilitating illnesses.
I could only hope that beyond the rhetoric of nuclear options, reconciliation, public options, single payer, and universal coverage, we might focus on one aspect of health care reform on which surely we can agree: There are some people among us who through no fault of their own are challenged with severe developmental disabilities or catastrophic diseases that not only destroy their bodies, but their families face catastrophic costs that destroy any semblance of security.
Few people are indifferent to such cases and frankly, their callous, contemptuous and condescending indifference toward others is undeserving of response. As a nation, we can't afford to give free, government-guaranteed, inclusive health policy to those who for whatever reason choose to spend their money on cars, homes, vacations or entertainment.
The so-called "safety net" can't become a hammock that allows some to relax while others work to pay for it. Neither can the government force us to buy a product in order for us to enjoy our rights as citizens.
Most families can't afford the costs of a severely disabled family member and even private insurance often has limits that exhaust the capacity of the policy. It sounds easy to say "we'll make those insurance companies extend the coverage — or not deny coverage no matter what the illness." But that means that the company might go broke or just pass those huge costs to the rest of us.
One way to correct this is creation of a government-guaranteed, but privately insured high-risk pool for those whose extraordinary health care needs greatly exceed the ordinary. It's doable — I know because we had such a plan in Arkansas when I was governor. It didn't replace personal responsibility or eliminate private insurance. It just gave families access to health care and since they paid for as much of it as they could afford, it wasn't a handout, but it was a hand-up to keep from impoverishing a family because they happened to have a special needs family member.
If the president proposed fixing the broken parts of the health care system that most of us could agree on, he could claim a victory for his presidency and for the people who could use some hope and change. If he keeps trying for a political victory through political double talk, he and the people most vulnerable among us will lose.
That's my view, I welcome yours. E-mail your comments to: email@example.com
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