Health Care Debate is Beyond Debate

    "You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore’s movie…" – Barclay Fitzpatrick, Vice President of Corporate Communications Capital BlueCross

    I expected Michael Moore, in his newest documentary, Sicko, to tell us in no uncertain terms that our health care delivery system in America is ill. And, just as he did in Roger & Me (against corporate giant General Motors), Bowling for Columbine (the National Rifle Association and gun lobby) and Fahrenheit 9/11 (Bush administration), I expected Moore to hit the high-profit centers of health care – the insurance industry, pharmaceutical industry – hard. He did.

    But what he also did is take the issue home, to the average person’s life. He showed us how the cost of prescription drugs is destroying people’s peace of mind. He showed us the effect of catastrophic illness, giving us a glimpse into a few of the thousands upon thousands of sad stories out there about families who have become bankrupt and homeless as a result of unpaid hospital bills.

    And the issue is not getting better. Health care is at the forefront of discussion in the current presidential debates, but conversation between politicians is anesthetizing. I stop listening as soon as they begin the insurance-speak.

    What speaks more loudly are the facts: health care costs cause 45 percent of all bankruptcies; and 45 million Americans currently are without health care insurance, equaling the population of 24 states. And many of those people are going to get sick. And every one of them who does get sick will become part of the system, a system that exists to make insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies and hospitals and doctors richer.

    None of us expect the establishment to change that. In fact, our system of government guarantees only one thing: promises will be made, and nothing will be resolved – and more wealthy Americans will be elected to high office.

    Sicko’s promotional tagline reads: "This might hurt a little." Little did I know how much. For when the filmmaker put his microscope on the nation’s health care industry, it actually revealed more about our system of government, and about how America’s version of it is spiked so much with capitalism to the point that you really can’t taste the democracy. I recognized that fact in our election process – it won’t be long before a presidential campaign will cost $1 trillion – but it shook me up to see how compassionate other nations are toward their sick and how indifferent ours appears in comparison. In fact, for a nation that prides itself on being the caretaker of the world, it dumps too many of its own people on the streets to fend for themselves.

    I think most of us agree that our system of health care in this country is broken. We need a single-payer system to replace the unnecessary influence of insurance companies on the practice of medicine in America. When medical decisions that harm patients make companies richer, it’s time to stop playing the game.

    But the bigger issue only begins with how we keep our citizenry healthy. The health care debate is beyond debate. What Americans need to come to grips with is the fact that its democratic process has become an autocracy ruled by those with money and power. Greed for both have transformed all three branches of government. And when the Fourth Estate, the free press, is controlled by multinational corporations, we lose the final checks and balances on democracy as we once knew it.

    Michael Moore’s new film – perhaps more appropriately titled Capitalization Gone Wild – aptly reminds us that our nation has lost its center. One could even say it has lost its humanity.

    The top 10 percent of Americans own 85 to 90 percent of all stock, bonds, trust funds and business equity. At the same time, one in every five households in America has more debt than assets.

    There is a segment of our population that angrily dismisses any dialogue on what’s wrong with America. "Love it or leave it," they spew. I remind them that our country was founded when patriots spoke up against the misdeeds of government and blazed a new trail.

    Let’s have an honest debate on the effect of money and greed on our society, on the evils of autocracy. It’s the patriotic thing to do.



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