It’s been at least a week since the last showdown in Congress, where the economy is more important than the safety of children. The next big fight is going to be over raising the debt ceiling, with Republicans insisting that there be major spending cuts before they agree to release the funds to pay the bills they’ve already amassed. It’s kind of like if American Express made you show next month’s pay stubs before you could use your card to buy dinner in a restaurant today.
Being Republicans, they want to cut the so-called “entitlements,” Social Security and Medicare. “Entitlements” makes it sound like something a spoiled child expects, but, in fact, both programs are paid for by our payroll taxes. However, both programs sit on a big pile of money, and it bothers the GOP that they can’t use it to fight wars or lower the taxes of millionaires.
It is also currently an act of faith to Republicans that the government should get out of the retirement and health care businesses, because the so-called “free market” will handle these areas with greater efficiency. Competition will force them to keep prices low and service levels high.
Except it doesn’t.
As this study shows, for-profit hospitals, nursing homes and the like don’t provide better care. They may make more money, but they do so at the expense of personal attention to their patients.
Is this just a matter of opinion? Maybe, but if I have to live in a nursing home, I’d rather not be sedated so I don’t complain. As a New Yorker, I know it takes a lot more than the usual dose of sedatives to shut me up.
However, it’s also a matter of fact. Despite the number of people who claim the United States has “the greatest health care system in the world” (I don’t know how many there are, but if it is only a handful, my father knew all of them), it just isn’t true. It’s not true for the old and the sick, and it’s not true for the rest of us, either.
If you don’t click to the whole article about how Americans rank poorly compared to the rest of the world in terms of longevity and over-all health in every age group, here’s the key quote: “The panel sought to explain the poor performance. It noted the United States has a highly fragmented health care system, with limited primary care resources and a large uninsured population. It has the highest rates of poverty among the countries studied.”
You might think that, with Obamacare kicking in next year, things have to get better. And you would be wrong. Greedy assholes will still manipulate the system to avoid treating their employees with respect. Things will only get better if we, the people, pay attention and make it happen. We can’t afford to get distracted by the Honey Boo-Boos of the world while the wealthy pervert the political system.
It’s not about the debt. The debt isn’t a problem when interest rates are close to zero. The problem is how to make the United States what we want it to be. Maybe you don’t want it to be a place where people have life, liberty, and are able to pursue happiness. Maybe you do want it, but don’t think it requires accessible health care.
I do. And I vote.
Martha Thomases, Media Goddess, is pulling together all her receipts for her accountant. She spent at least five figures last year on insurance, medical expenses and co-pays.