This is my Western Tribune column for September 23, 2009. As I have said before, it's nice when the media and pop culture combine to produce videos that support my views.
Here's the column:
There are many reasons to support health care reform with a public option and here are three of the most obvious.
The constitution supports it.
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
It would be hard to say that the “general welfare” of our country is not promoted by our government assuring that everyone has access to affordable, quality health care.
It’s the Christian thing to do.
Many faith traditions support caring for the sick but for Christians this should be a no-brainer. Jesus spent a lot of time and devoted many words to healing the sick and advocating for the unfortunate. The story of the Good Samaritan and others remind us that we are to care for others – we are our brother’s keeper. We should help to shoulder the burdens of others and this is what a public option would do. Medicare for all is a good way to put it.
A public option is the only way to bring down insurance costs.
Remember, insurance companies exist for one reason – to make a profit, which they do very effectively by collecting premiums and denying coverage.
Here is the total compensation for several insurance executives for 2008.
Ron Williams – AETNA, $24,300,112; H. Edward Hanway – CIGNA, $12,236,740; Stephen Helmsley – UnitedHealth Group, $3,241,042; Phillip Pope – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, $2,950,000; UnitedHealth Group deserves special mention because in 2005 their CEO, William McGuire, received compensation totaling $124,774,000. That’s 124 million dollars and it takes a lot of guts to make that kind of money off of the illness (and sometimes denial of treatment) of Americans.
Can we honestly expect the “for profit” insurance companies to police themselves and bring down costs? Of course not. A public option managed by a not for profit government agency is the only way to assure cost reductions and fair coverage for all Americans.
Those who argue otherwise might want to review the Constitution and the Bible and reconsider. Otherwise they are just as much to blame as the CEOs who are robbing the American people at the expense of the uninsured and under insured. And that could be any of us.
As if on cue, Will Ferrell, John Hamm and Linda Cardellini and others made this video as celebrities weigh in on the health care debate. from Funny or Die.
And former insurance executive turned whistle blower Wendell Potter shows up on Bill Maher's Real Time, which we finally got around to watching last night.