Hello everyone!
I'm new to the site and would appreciate any comments on this important issue.
I've been in my first teaching job (University of Applied Sciences, Steyr, Austria) as an English teacher for about five years. In these few years I feel that I have learned just as much from my students as I have taught them. One of the courses I teach is Health Mgt. (English focus), and as we discuss many health care systems throughout the world I am at a loss for words when it comes to the current reform debate in America.
I would like to be able to explain how we have reached this point in America and what is keeping us from passing a comprehensive, universal health bill, but I can't. It seems to me that a private insurance system stems from the fear of socialized medicine where German doctors were controlled by the National Socialism (NAZI) regime, but is this really the case?
As a Kansas native I grew up in the Bible belt, and many of these values I've learned (such as love thy neighbor) I still hold dear. But it seems to me that much of the opposition to universal health care comes from the Christian right who doesn’t want to pay for the health of others. Looking at the facts, I see that the US already spends more per capita than any other nation in the world, yet is still ranked about 30th in the world when it comes to quality and coverage.
In teaching this subject I’m often asked “How can the most powerful nation in the world not care for its citizens?” And this is the answer I’m looking for. I’ve discussed the role of lobbies contributing to election campaigns, but still I have no answer. For most of my studies I was without health care, my mom worked for the gov and my dad had been laid off from the railroad, and I was lucky that I never had any emergencies that would push me into bankruptcy. But what’s the answer for the many who have experienced life’s indiscretion, pain, suffering… and financial despair?
I don’t know the answers, and that’s why I’m posting this. I’d appreciate any comments to help me understand so that I can better communicate the issue with my students.
Many Thanks!
David

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I have continued to research this topic and actually removed the past post to replace it with this one because I think this one actually gets to the foundation better. I posted the links in my previous post that I removed because I had felt that getting information from the 'experts' on both sides of the issue would be the fairest form of intellectually examining issues. What I ended up finding was that sources on both sides are so caught up in strawman arguments, stereotypes, and rude responses that I was ashamed of both sides. Good grief, can't they see that they may be able to talk to their own camps like that and get away with it but to a person there who is undecided they all sound like idiots - both sides.

Instead, I will post a few of my own observations but most importantly I want to encourage you to take the link in the last paragraph. I think you will find the insights to be very valuable, perhaps even paradigm shifting on your understanding of the liberal/conservative divide. Don't worry. It is written by a Modern Liberal for other Modern Liberals.

I think the resistance to the Healthcare bill is partly due to timing because the country is very concerned about the precarious economic conditions in the national economy. I have heard the statement that the bill will save millions but to a population that feels like the economy is teetering on the edge of fatal economic collapse, they need to see that this will not push it over the edge.

It is also partly based on the belief of many of the people that a small government equals a healthy country. Classical liberals also believed this until the early part of the 20th century. Now that same torch is carried by Libertarians and Fiscal Conservatives. It is an ideological divide that will change only when the move to government expansion is seen as needed and affordable to the people as a whole. If time had been spent laying more groundwork for the need and affordable part I think there would be less push back. It has been rushed through pretty fast and is so big a change that it has even many Democrats in the population worried.

The last thing that I would present as the reason is that there is a huge divide between Democrats that are on the Left and Republicans on the Right that there is no trust left for bipartisanship. This was not the climate for cooperation. I think you will find the article at http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/haidt08/haidt08_index.html to be very interesting It is written by a Modern Liberal for an audience of Modern LIberals. Read it all the way through. I think that the question, "Why are so many people voting Republican?" may get some answers there.
Dear Tammy and David,

Well! Here I am, a Conservative, registered Republican, who opposes The Health Care Plan.

However. I would support a Universal Health Care Program! I currently pay, out of pocket. $1573.00 monthly for my family's health care insurance. I carry high deductibles $2500 per person, $5000.00 familly before the insurance kicks in. I would much rather pay a higher tax rate for Universal Coverage.

But, that is not what the health care bill is all about. It is a Tax bill disguised as Health Care Reform. It was a "Pig in a Poke", but the "cat is out of the bag. The major providers of Health Care Costs are secure. Those companies are the Major Health Care Manufacturers, Becton Dickinson (the highest dollar volume Medicare provider and Pharmaceutical Companies). Of course, we are required by the Federal Government to purchase Medical Insurance.....That is a real stretch for the "Commerce Clause" in the Constitution. We'll see what the courts decide.
The belief that Republicans are the Party of Big Business is a lie. The truth is, that both parties are the Parties for Big Business. Members of Congress, need to raise money for their re-election, daily, Who has the money?
Lobbyists that represent Corporations, both profit and non-profit, unions, and political organizations.
We only get to influence Congress during the election year, then they listen....a little.

A Conservative believes that the Federal Government's powers should be more closely aligned to the limits of the Constitution. We do not want to empower a strong federal government. We fear totalitarian control. It is that simple. Liberals prefer a stronger federal government.one that supercides the State's resposibilities.
I guess that it is a matter of trust, I do not trust the Federal Government, Congress and the Administration,
I have more trust in the Supreme Court, they are not subject to re-election and can act honestly.

I went to College in the late 60's, I learned all about the "Military Industrial Complex". how Federal Spending and "donations" to Congress undermine the Honesty of our system. It does not matter, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican. "Money doesn't Talk, it Swears" (Bob Dylan)
I almost joined the SDS, but I realized that they were a little too Psyco for my taste. I joined the NAVY instead.
Until we changed the method of funding for political campaigns, I'll never be able to trust our elected officials.

As far as Party Choice is concerned, each citizen leans toward a party that they believe more closely shares their personal core beliefs. You do not need a PhD to figure that out.

Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, we all want the same thing. A safe secure life for ourselves and our families. We live in a homogeneous population, a young country that is not burdened by thousands of years of tribal hatred and grudges.

Just a few words on Federal Spending....There is a limit, we are there. Call it a tipping point, or a point of no return.....We are all rational, we all know that, If we borrow more than we can pay, we lose the house.

Thanks for your time
John J Caprice
Dear David,

I just saw your blog. What a pitty! It does not change what we think anyway.
I am surprised on what is going on in the country. The country is in a war, spending trillions of dollars, but the government
is sinking the country down.By the way, the old "enemy" Russia has no debt. Even the Bible in Ecclesiast says that there is a different time for everything.
There is no collaborative intelligence in Health Care approach!
There are no scientists who would look at the history and practice! Only the conservative radio quoted it, not the government!
I can tell you that in a socialist Russia there were 5 times more doctors then anywhere in the world, people were coming to doctors with any concern, sneezing, or being upset. Not a single hospital denies a visit from a homeless or unemployed patient. Unemploymment and nonuniform coverage as well a a freedom to have or not to have insurance that is what we have now. When all people will be equal and Amerika will be a socialist country, when the government with or without collaborative intelligence will decide what people should do, things will definitely be different..
Dear David,

One of my students approached me and asked "Miss, Do you know that rich people do not want poor people to have a healthcare?" I wonder what would you answer to this student?
Dear Nellie,

Please note that I do favor a Universal Helath Care System. I have a couple of friends in Canada. Their experiences have all been positive. Once again, I am all for it.....Lets do it.

What we get is not in the best interest of the people. Corporations, profit and non-profit, left and right, control the legislation that our Congress presents and votes on, through their financial support.

Our Senators and House Representatives have to raise money for their election and re-elction campaigns. ALL OF THEM! If they raise enough money, they are eligble to receive funding from their national commitees.
The nature of the system lends itself to corruption. NO MONEY NO RUN! Support = MONEY.
A neighbor of mine is involved in the election campaign in a congressional race in PA. She works on the commitee and is intimately involved in the campaign. The candidate spends 5 hours a day on the phone requesting donations. If elected, who will he represent? Me and you? Or .......follow the money.

So, explain to that child, this is not about rich or poor. We, the "American People" are all really motivated to help one another, This is about who gets to make money and who gets to control the system, There is no "Benevolence" in our elected official's motivation, only the debt that they owe to their contributors.

JJC

PS: A recent Democratic fund raising dinner was just completed in Florida. The participants paid $30,000 a plate to attend. How many of those who attended were poor people? How many dollars of that money was donated at the taxpayer's expense through non-profits that receive federal funding. How much of that money will be paid back with government contarcts and considerations?
It does not matter if it is a Republican or a Democratic candidate, Money doesn't talk, it swears!
JJC
Dear John,

The fact that contributions are required to run a campaign seems not that frightening. There were some claims that the candidate does not have to work for contributors, he is not legally obligated, only morally; plus, why would people pay for useless candidate.

What concerns me, that there are no ways to get to the core of what is going on. There is no way to rely on the press. Talk show hosts do a search on their own. The way things were done after the WW2 was that an independent group of scientist and experts from different fields (politicians, economists , sociologists, mathematicians,historians,policy makers and decision makers, experts each in its own field) were evaluating the problem,giving recommendations.Decision makers would create an infrastructure to see if the solution is viable and works. The press would make it public. That is, to my understanding, a democratic approach, using a collaborative intelligence ( here we go again). Not any more.
I have a suspicion that for a short term monetary gratification the democratic party is selling the country away.
I am teaching my students not to believe a word they hear till they will see a systems approach in problem solving. I do not know if it will work. I pray to God that it would !
I also believe that a certain uniform health care is a good idea, but not at the time when the country is
at war. Imagine that politicians would divert funds to such a project during WW2? It is crazy!
A further Post Script:

We, the people, are subject to an endless stream of mis-information from both sides of the aisle. This information is broadcast through the various media sources that play on our emotions and pander to a particiular point of view.
The message is clear, the other guys are bad. Whether it is Fox News or MSNBC, the "other guys" are no good.

We, the people, are intelligent. We need to understand that there is a truth out there. It seems more like the theme of the "X Files", or the sub plot of the "Matrix".
Since I first became politically aware in the 60s, I could determine that in politics, there is no right or wrong.
It is all about who is in control, and who their buddies are, the guys that they play golf with. All the presidents of all the corporations ,sit on the Borads of Directors of all the associated companies and accompaning charitable organizations.
We eliminated the "Robber Barons" only to replace them with a much larger group CEOs, who donate money and efforts to raise money for their preferred candidate.
This is not a conspiracy theory, it is the way it is. Powerful people on the left and right, playing a big ole chess game with our lives and money. OK, I am start sounding like the Uni-Bomber...Just do a little research and always ask yourself " Who makes money as a result of this Congressional bill? Who will benefit by us invading Iraq? Who lobbied our representatives to authorize the war? It is the matrix. "We are only pawns in their game."
I tend to quote Bob Dylan a lot, I am a 60's child.
JJC
Dear John,

There is an understanding that personal interests and social interests can coinside. Actually I think that
politicians make not that much in comparison to "Bill Gates" '. The question is, if the party supports projects beneficial for the country or not; beneficial in terms of the expert knowledge. The Government does not have an expertise in any field, Polosi and Reed have no profession suitable to solve any problem. The science does. There is an undeniable progress of any enterprise which relies on research. There are undeniable methods of checks and balances, controlled studies and computerized programs, computer models and experiments.
I have a hope that rational and educated people one day will regain forgotten knowledge.
By the way, I just found out that there is an International Society for the Systems Sciences and there is a meeting this year in Canada. I plan to find time to go there. I will keep people posted just in case.
Dear Nellie,

A little note on Bill Gates, His mother was on the board of directors of IBM when IBM adopted "Windows" as their operating system. Prior to that decision, IBM had a similar program called OS1. I am not knocking Bill Gates, He is a Philanthropist, and seems to be an honorable man. I just want to demonstrate that "success" has its connections.

There is no doubt in my mind that "we" can provide and afford health care to all of the people in the US. When I was a kid,1950's, we had a US Public Health Service Hospital on Staten Island, NY. I do not know if it was free, all of my relatives who were adults then have passed on. However, when money was tight, my mom would bring us there for physicals, vacinations and examinations. This facility closed in the mid 1960's.

As a Pharmacist form 1976 to 2001, I observed the transformation of Insurance from providing catastrophic coverage to managing all care services. Their business expanded and was mandated by State Medical Insurance Boards. I had the first hand knowledge of escalating pharmaceutical costs. There was no consumer resistance to the price of medications, they were paying a co-pay. There are life saving drugs and there are "symptom" drugs. We can all justify he costs of drugs the save or sustain life, but prescription cold medicines or allergy medicines were overpriced.
Here are two examples from the year 2000.
Claritin cost me $3.00 for each pill. If a customer had to pay out of pocket for 30 Claritin becouse of a runny nose, they would say "NO THANKS! What do you have over the counter?"
Nasalide, a nasal spray for allergies, cost $75.00 a bottle. The response would be the same!
The reason that these two items cost so much was simple. Nobody paid out of pocket for them.
Health Care Plans also made inside deals for preferred drug coverage, despite the cost.

Remember what I said about Board of Director membership, I had a neighbor who was he president of a small pharmaceutical research firm. He had 15 Board of Director seats in varuious Health Care Companies. He was a nice guy. This is how the system works.
In the 1930's, Will Rodgers had numerous popular quotes on the corruption in government, they are all still true.

Thanks JJC
Thanks to Tammy, Nellie and John for the good discussion! Your comments and the links you've provided have helped me gain a better insight into the issue. Basically where I am now is that the two main parties would rather fight it out and make the other look bad than actually get something landmark accomplished for the people. Campaign contributions are another huge problem I see, and for me and election reform should be next. Lastly, those with money and power don't usually give it up without a fight, I think we can see this with the Pharma lobby and its influence on the media. I do have hope though, when Switzerland decided on reform in 1994 (I think it was '94) it was also something like 50.5% for to 49.5% against. Now an overwhelming majority supports the system as it is, and many other European systems are similar.
Thanks again for your nice comments!
David
Kudos David,

I have some more comments, BUT! It is really nice out today.
I am semi-retired, SO,,,,The water calls.....Goin' Fishin'

See Ya Later
JJC

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