This is likely to be short, but the Dog has a point he would like to make about health care and why we need to have a public option, for everyone, on day one. The Framers of the Constitution knew they were not going to make a perfect document. That is why the preamble states “in order to form a more perfect union” instead of “in order to form a perfect union”. One of the basic ideas motivating the Framers was the concept of the basic dignity of every citizen. They created a system which required the ascent of the citizenry to function. While they fell short in terms of suffrage in many categories, we, their spiritual and actual descendants have moved over time to correct these failings.
"Originally posted at Squarestate.net"
On the issue of health care, we must once again return to that animating concept of the framers, the basic dignity of the individual citizen is something which is not only good to protect, but is required of a democratic government to protect. Today 17% of our fellow citizens are without health insurance of any kind. To them any illness is a serious thing, and to have it treated they give up some of their dignity. These are not the poorest of our citizens, for we have covered the most valuable of us with Medicaid. No these are the are citizens who are working hard, who are paying bills but either work at companies who do not offer health insurance or for some other reason can not afford it, but still don’t qualify for Medicaid.
For these citizens there is a loss of dignity when they have to show up at an Emergency Room and admit they have no health insurance. There is a loss of basic dignity when they have dental issues, but lack the means to have them addressed. They live with the pain, suffering and not even able to say why they suffer without the judgment of those who do have health insurance.
This is intolerable in a nation that founded itself with a declaration which begins “We hold these truths to be self-evident. All Men are created equal”
We can not allow this kind of disparity to exist for our fellow citizens. This is particularly true when we know the insurance industry has caused this state of affairs by a relentless pursuit of unconscionable profit. The Dog is sure you have seen this number before but it is worth stating again. Between the years of 2000 and 2007 the top 10 publicly traded insurance companies saw a 428% increase in their profit. That means if they were making $1,000,000 after all expenses a year in 2000 they are now making 4.28 million. There is no industry which has seen these kinds of increases. Even the oil industry in the same time period only so a 105% increase in profits.
This is due in large part to the way health insurance markets have been allowed to consolidate in the last decade. Over 400 mergers have resulted in 96% of all health insurance markets being what the DOJ calls “highly concentrated”. When you have any single company controlling more than 42% of a market there is really no choice, no competition. This has allowed these companies to charge higher and higher prices and realize higher and higher profits.
It is the proximate cause of 48 million Americans living without basic dignity, without health care and having no way to get it. There is a place for profit in the economy, but this kind of rapacious profit is inexcusable. When it degrades the basic dignity of our citizenry, no matter what the philosophical basis for a market, it undermines the very pillars our nation was founded on.
We as a people can not allow this to continue. The ideals of our Founders and the Framers of the Constitution would not stand for it. This idea of covering all citizens is not new, Theodore Roosevelt, a great President, proposed national heath care in 1913. TR was a great man, who understood that the greatness of America was in one place, its citizens, and that any nation that would be great must provide its citizens the means of basic dignity, like health care.
For all of the arguments about cost, about ways and means, about competition, the one the Dog finds the most persuasive is this; without health care there can be no basic dignity for our citizens. The last time the people of this section of this continent felt they did not have basic dignity as citizens they replaced their government by bloody and costly revolution. We do not have to learn the lesson the British Crown learned, we can act as citizens of a democracy and assure the basic dignity of our fellow citizens by assuring it for ourselves. A strong public option, available from day one is the first step. It restrains the rapacious profiteering of the insurance companies while providing for the basic dignity of the citizenry. This is our challenge, but we are up to it. We must be.
The floor is yours.