Op/Ed 12/4/09

Health care reform top issue of today

By Niecea Freeman

  After the passage of the H.R. 3962—Affordable Health Care for America Act—in the House of Representatives on Nov. 7, Obamacare rolled its way into the Senate for debate on Nov. 30, where if passed, the bill will be on its way to becoming U.S. law.
  This year alone, sources estimate Congress has sifted through, revised and amended over 100 bills of health care literature—ranging well over 200 pages. The proposals, however, in bill 3962 support ideas such as free preventative services—flu shots, diabetes tests and mammograms—a government-operated and regulated system, and an insurance exchange—“a market place where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices,” reported President Obama in an address to Congress.
  Obama’s website—www.whitehouse.gov—informs the public that the new health care plan is meant to provide more “stability and security” for all Americans, whether they currently have insurance or not. Obamacare focuses on securing the safety of health care recipients by immediately addressing medical malpractice reform so that doctors put their patients first, rather than practicing defensive medicine, and making it illegal for insurance companies to drop coverage when people need it most.
  “Under my plan,” said Obama, “individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance—just as most states require people to carry auto insurance.” Likewise, all businesses will be mandated to offer or chip in to help with their employees’ health care services.
  A recent poll on ABC news recorded that Americans are virtually split down the middle on the matter, with 48 percent for the bill in Congress and 49 against it. When ABC asked the public if they liked the idea of universal health care, 62 percent voted for the cause. However, when the pollers clarified some of the points about universal health care—like a limited choice of doctors or waiting lists for non-emergency treatments—support went to over 60 percent against and 30 percent for the plan. Fifty nine percent of the polled expressed a fear of future affordability of health insurance if it pursues this course.
  One may ask why such apprehension is expressed toward such a seemingly attractive plan. With the United States currently spending more than any other country on health care—twice as high as the spending rates in Canada and the U.K.—one could argue that, though expensive, Americans receive quick, efficient treatment. Many think that consideration should also be given to the fact that significant increases in demands for health care treatment, once made more available through universal health care, might be met with a fixed supply in doctors and hospitals, overwhelming their services.
  Additionally, the Heritage Foundation has reported that to cover those without insurance, Obamacare will increase those on welfare by 20 percent through Medicare and Medicaid programs. Others feel that the universal coverage is an idealistic and worthy cause but shouldn’t be implemented at the expense of others. Raising taxes hurts middle class families, who can generally never receive any of the benefits for which they’re taxed.
  America is at a cross roads between traditional and progressive government; its people are split. Some cry “socialism,” while others cry for “equality and consistency.” The truth is somewhere in the middle. Fate lies in the hands of the Senate’s decision, and with the debate already in motion, America lies in wait.


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