16 April 2007

Blackout on the truth

The National Education Association supports single-payer, universal healthcare. Who knew?

And that's the point. We didn't know. The media has effected such an effective blackout on single-payer that it seems like a silly, socialist, pie-in-the-sky idea. Then you dig in a bit and find out that the former head of Caterpillar has said single-payer's what we need, it's the only thing that makes sense; you find out that Ford Motors' former CEO has said much the same thing; that the nurses associations are for it and that the NEA backs single-payer.

But common wisdom still would have it that anyone who thinks single-payer is the solution to our healthcare Catch-22s is unrealistic — when in fact it's unrealistic to think that anything other than single-payer will contain costs and provide healthcare justice.

That doesn't mean that rich people don't get more healthcare under single-payer systems. That's just life. Rich people will always get more. As it turns out, however, more isn't always better. Too bad for them. No doubt when they figure out how to stay young for 50 extra years it won't be covered. That's fine — we're just looking for a normal life-span, like not dying at age 45.

I talked with a woman (we'll call her Julie) from Pueblo, Colorado, tonight. Julie's worried sick about her mother's health. Her dad gets health insurance through the government because he's disabled. He makes $7 and some change an hour. Julie says her mother's salary always supported the family, and that her mom has always gotten her own healthcare through a clinic for the indigent. Now Julie doesn't know what to do, because her mother is sick. Julie herself is a single parent, a junior in college on a scholarship that doesn't pay for her mother's healthcare.

Julie says that politicians keep talking about covering the kids. Good, she says, but it's not enough. "What are people supposed to do between the ages of 18 and 65?"

Julie says that she's heard the horror stories about people having to wait for surgery in countries that have healthcare justice, but that she's talked with people from Britain and elsewhere, who tell her it's not like that at all. "They say it's us that have the crazy system."

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