Senator Sanders on Healthcare Reform

With President Obama addressing Congress tonight to discuss health care reform, I felt it was a great time to bring attention to a column Senator Bernie Sanders posted on Huffington Post from August 21, 2009.

We’ve heard such generic terms as single-payer, public option, death panel, socialized medicine and Obamacare.  It’s clear that most Americans are clueless with regards to this topic.  (myself included).

Bernie SandersBy now, we’ve all heard the infamous quote from a town hall – I want government to keep their hands off of Medicare. 

We are bombarded with buzzwords and misinformation, it’s no wonder we’re all lost.  This is an intentional game plan presented by the groups that want healthcare reform to fail – Republicans, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Insurance companies.

Senator Sanders’s post Healthcare Reform 101 best provides a great overview.

“In Vermont, there are many others like me who think the best way to solve the health care crisis (and save $400 billion a year in the process) would be to replace private insurance companies with a single-payer Medicare-for-all system. Unfortunately, there are not many in the United States Senate who agree.”

Single payer is the only way I can see that will significantly reduce the cost – eliminates millions paid to the insurance company’s CEO’s and senior leadership team, millions paid to their corporate lobbyists, millions paid to Congressional coffers and millions paid to pass along misinformation to the public.

“Given that political reality, I am a strong advocate for what is called a ‘public option’ that gives consumers a choice. Those who like their private insurance companies could keep them. Those who prefer a public insurance plan like Medicare could choose that option.”

“A public option is the one mechanism we have left to keep the private insurance companies honest and provide at least some cost containment. President Obama campaigned for that. Once in office, he reasserted that ‘any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange, including a public option to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest.’”

My fear is that even with the public option, I will be forced to remain with my sub-par health care insurance provided by my employer.  I would feel better if I can depart from my company’s plan and choose from a selection of plans to determine which one best meets my needs and the needs of my family.

A couple of other concerns I have with the public option.

Today, my company contributes to my health plan.  If I opt out of my corporate plan, do I lose my employer’s contribution?  Thus, my costs will significantly increase which will make it unreasonable to depart.

When they say public option, do they mean one plan option – take it or leave it?  The type of coverage a mid-40’s couple with one high school senior and a college age student is very different than a late 20’s single woman would want or a 50 year old single person who is somewhat sickly.

The bill that I have read and seems to be most discussed runs over 1000 pages.  ONE THOUSAND PAGES!  As a former college SGA senator and chairman of the Constitutional Revision Committee, I believe that the simplest bills are usually the best.  When a large bill is presented, I am somewhat skeptical that unnecessary items as well as infamous pork projects will sneak through.

I don’t expect most politicians to actually read the bill.  Only 1 person read the Patriot Act before it came up for a vote.  (Russ Feingold)

I expect the Republicans and the rest of the Obstructionist Party & their cohorts in the media to bad mouth the bill without reading it.  Look at how they reacted to Obama’s speech to students before it was released for public viewing.

“I take the president at his word. I am bothered by statements form some people surrounding him who suggest that we should go forward without that option.”

“From a political perspective, what we need to do is precisely what Obama did during his very brilliant campaign, and that is rally tens of millions of people to stand up and fight for a universal, comprehensive and cost effective health care system. In my view, health care is the civil rights issue of our time. It is not acceptable that the United States remains the only industrialized country that does not provide health care as a right of citizenship, that 18,000 Americans die every single years because they get to the doctor too late, that 46 million have no health insurance and even more an under-insured, and that one million people this year are going to go bankrupt because of medically-related costs. We can do better than that. We must do better than that.”

“The truth of the matter is that the Democrats have not been particularly effective in stating the case as to why we need real health care reform.”

Senator Sanders got to the root of the problem here.

Democrats haven’t stated a strong case on WHY we need health care reform.  Nor have they done a good job branding what they’re trying to sell.

Bill Maher dubbed it:  “Medicare for all.”

Instead we got ‘single payer’ and ‘public option.’ 

The Republicans have always used terrific branding to gain the public support – No Child Left Behind, Patriot Act, War on Terror, Clear Skies Act.

The truth of the matter is that there are virtually no Republicans in the Senate who are serious about health care reform. That’s sad and pathetic, but that is the simple reality. Even worse, Republicans are not only opposing serious health care reform but they are grossly distorting what is in the current bills being considered. They are stalling and stalling and very effectively playing the obstructionist role.

While some members of the Democratic caucus may end up voting against a strong health care reform bill, I would hope and expect that every member of the caucus is prepared to stand united in opposition to Republican obstructionism and never-ending filibusters

Here is my bottom line: The system is disintegrating. We spend almost twice as much on health care as any other country. Our health outcomes are worse. The vast majority of people want a public option – among other reforms.

Now is the time for action!

Read Senator Sanders post over at Huffington Post 

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