This is being written as a bad-tempered debate rages in Congress on a bill to reform the healthcare service. Depending on who who listen to, this will either be the saving of millions of American lives or the start of an era where death panels of bureaucrats decide who gets to live and who dies. It is rare to find such extreme language of fear being used to debate what should be a reasonably dry subject. With almost 50 million adults in the US without a health plan and the hospital emergency room service buckling under the strain, we should be having a discussion about the morality of leaving so many people to die without help. And, before you all start complaining about unverified assertions, try googling the death rate among the uninsured and see just how many government-based reports there are of higher mortality among the poor and uninsured. There are myths and facts out there. Work out for yourself what the facts are. Why should there be so much opposition to a measure to improve the quality of healthcare? The answer is easy to find. The corporations and professions with the most to lose in this reform have deep pockets and they are spending the money to manipulate public opinion with lies and deceptions. There can be no doubt the US system is broken. We have among the highest costs per head for treatments in the developed world and rank near the bottom for death rates. No-one should want to live in a country where we pay so much and so many people die through lack of proper care. Yet that is the current reality being defended by the Republican party. It would not be so bad if the Republicans had their own agenda for reform. But all they offer is opposition to the Democrats’ proposals. It is a negative to every proposal regardless of its merits. Looking around the internet right now, it’s easy to see the promises of cheap health insurance, but these silvered words only prove partially true. For the middle and high income groups, there are affordable health plans out there. For the rest of the population, you find whatever you can afford and hope for the best. The small print in so many policies gives the insurers many different ways in which to refuse payment on claims or pay only a percentage of what you are expecting. Worse, companies are increasingly driving away people who have more expensive chronic diseases and disorders. Their profits are more important than the need to give fair access to medical treatments. It would be great if there were one or two ethical insurance companies out there, genuinely offering cheap health insurance with terms that offered reasonable cover to those with the misfortune to be injured or fall ill. But the promises of ethics are lost in a world driven by capitalism. The free market means maximizing profits at the expense of the customers. It’s hard to predict whether this latest attempt to reform healthcare will prove more successful than the last effort under President Clinton. Whatever happens tomorrow, today the premium rates are still rising and the quality of the care continues to fall. We still face months or perhaps years of struggle until reform brings down prices.
Watching politics is a fascinating way to pass the time. People always find new ways to repackage the same basic debates in ever different forms. The media float above the fray, supposedly with a dispassionate eye. The code of the professional journalist preserves a neutral position, identifying the key facts and giving both sides of the debate a fair hearing. Unfortunately, the arrival of Fox News and the rise of the Right Wing Jocks has produced an opinion-based approach to reporting the news. This is not simply skewing the coverage. It is actually introducing new levels of venom into the debate itself, raising the profile of news reporters and commentators as demagogues, and personalising the attacks made on government. No other issue has raised the heat of passion in the debate as the proposal to reform the provision of healthcare in the US. Many on the right of the political spectrum see these proposals as a direct attack on their individual liberties and as promoting big government. They approve the rise of activism that has seen groups around the US protesting in the Town Hall Meetings run during the summer and in the so-called Tea Party protests which focus on the rise of big government and the redistribution of wealth through alleged socialist measures. As a momentary aside, let us make a politically incorrect observation of fact.
The membership of the Republican Party is, with the exception of the tokens like Michael Steele, mainly a party of white people. Similarly, the vast majority of the protesters in the events organized in 2009 are white. It is just a coincidence that the primary focus of their anger is Barack Obama. That said, the key measure in the reform package is some change to the current system of insurance. The supporters of reform argue in favor of mandatory insurance. As it is, a significant percentage of the young and healthy do not buy insurance. This forces a sharing of the cost of healthcare among a smaller and older group of people. If all adults were required to hold a policy, it would share the cost of care out among a larger group and so reduce the premiums for everyone. But the suggestion of a mandate to buy insurance is a red flag to the Republicans. The Fund for Personal Liberty has formally promised action if such a bill is signed into law. It will claim the law is unconstitutional, breaching Article 1, Section 8. For those of you uncertain of Section 8, it lists the powers of Congress but does not include mandates to interfere with the purchasing decisions made by citizens. The Fund will argue that the list is exclusive and this use of legislation is therefore unconstitutional. In a sense, it does not matter who is proved right in the courts.
What is clear is the passion on both sides of the debate about how the health insurance industry should be reformed, if at all. For those of who who need to get on with our lives with some insurance in place, spending time online is essential to find as many health insurance quotes as possible. We need to shop around to get the best deal. Selfishly, we would all hope for the premiums to fall. If it takes a mandate to force everyone to carry insurance, that seems a small price to pay.
While there may be future changes to the Health Care Reform Bill passed in March 2010, as it stands now, there are a number of provisions that will help the 24 million diabetics in American. It is still uncertain how exactly the bill will affect coverage of lifestyle products such as diabetic shoes, but it is certain that it will give diabetics better access to medical care and decrease their vulnerability as a whole. As of November 2010, the following is a quick reference list of some of the main changes that will affect diabetic’s medical coverage and treatment.
Note: This information is not intended to supplement or replace advice from a insurance or medical professional. To find out more about how diabetics may benefit from upcoming health care reform, please visit the American Diabetes Association.
Congressman Rogers’ makes his opening statement on Health Care reform legislation that is under debate in Congress.
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