05 September 2009

Just Say No to a Trigger Public Option

I wrote to the White House today, something I never do. Then again, I worked tirelessly to see President Obama elected, and that too previously belonged to the I wouldn’t ever / don’t have time category of my life. In both instances, I recognized that I couldn’t afford not to take the time.

Health care reform isn’t an option, but a necessity, and any true reform will Must include the public option. And no, the public option is not government run health care. It is an expansion of the services afforded to those on Medicare / Medicaid *AND* the government option afforded government employees. You see, what’s been proposed in HR 3200 is basically what our congressmen and women, senators, and government employees already have. Upon hire they receive a list of eight different health insurance plan options, and to be sure Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Kaiser, etc. are on there, the last choice of which we now call the ‘public option’. The existence of this plan choice accomplishes two things primarily. First, it provides an affordable option for those poor schmucks who work for our government, but don’t make a hill of beans. Second, it creates competition among it and the rest of the plans, thereby driving down costs. Which is why our elected officials seem to have such great insurance. But I digress, as a new problem in this inane debate arises.

Now, our attention to the public option must surely be diverted by talk of its imminent and undeniable failure to pass (a bunch of bull), and talk of the more palatable Trigger Public Option. harummph. Really, we’re that stupid we’ll fall for the oldest play in the book? Make them think it’s part of the bill that just might kick in if things grow worse, more untenable, blah blah blah. Are you kidding me?!? Unfortunately no, I whisper silently. People proved themselves gullible enough to buy into the notion of nonexistent death panels and rationing of health care. (Okay, true, they DO exist if you count the insurance giant in existence today who’ve practiced and mastered the art over the last few decades.) The point, however, is that people will almost surely buy into this new smokescreen, which is nothing more than mist clouding our ability to see and know truth.

So, I wrote to the White House, and encourage you to do the same. I encourage you to seek information and to educate yourselves. I encourage you to think, and to ask yourself why this matters so much. I assure you, it is of vital import to our nation’s well being, and that of your own family.

I am writing out of concern for the state of health care in our country, and the ongoing debate over the public option. Please understand that as a former nurse and current teacher I see living examples of our need for the public option. Our country needs health reform, and any effective reform must include the public option, now, not later, not after some imaginary trigger that never kicks in.

As a nurse, and now as a teacher, I could not afford to pay the health insurance premiums for the employer provided health care. That's how little the people who care for our nation's sick, who educate our nation's youth make. As a single mother with that meager salary I still qualify for section 8 housing assistance, but not for medical care, neither form my children nor myself.

With the H1N1 flu, and my son's history of Reactive Airway Disease, I find myself concerned that he could contract a deadly illness, that we could face losing him, because I know that we do not have access to care until it is emergently needed. That is wrong. It is wrong that over 47 million citizens in our nation face the greatest health threat in years with the knowledge that they will be denied preventative and early care, and any deal including a trigger public option will guarantee this remains the case until the majority of those 47 million citizens have succumbed to the negative effects that lack of preventative  and early care naturally leads to.

If the government agrees to health care reform that mandates coverage but fails to include a public option, I know that fines and penalties for failure to comply will befall the poorest, the neediest, and those gentle souls who fill the caring professions so crucial to our nation's everyday functioning. Does that really fit with the change promised to us, and for which we worked and championed with our every waking hour? I think not, and it's time this administration listened to those who fought to put you in charge of our nation's well being. No public option is equivalent to no health care reform, period.

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