LETTER: Time is now for real health care reform

Sunday, July 12, 2009 | 6:26 p.m. CDT; updated 11:17 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 3, 2009

While it is encouraging that Senate and House committees are beginning to seriously consider health care reform legislation, it is critical that the U.S. Congress takeaction and pass real health care reform in the next few months.

America is facing a health care crisis caused by a combination of skyrocketing costs and an insurance system that leaves 47 million of us without any coverage. The current health care system is endangering both our economy and our health, and voters have made it clear that they want change. According to a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, 70 percent of Americans surveyed believe the health care system needs major changes, if not a complete overhaul.

Health care reform legislation must guarantee quality, affordable health care to all U.S. residents. It is universal coverage that will determine the humanity of our system, and all Americans must have health care coverage, including the choice of a quality, affordable public insurance plan.

In addition, it is essential that comparative data on treatments, benefits packages and medical outcomes be made publicly available so that individuals can make informed health decisions.

Congress needs to take additional strong action to reduce the costs of health care for individuals, businesses and communities. As a nation, we are spending $1 out of every $6 we earn on health care. Legislation must provide effective cost controls, equitable distribution of services and allow for efficient and economical delivery of care. Offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan like Medicare that would compete with private health insurance plans will be key.

Achieving this kind of comprehensive system-wide reform will take a shared effort by citizens and Congress. Senators Bond and McCaskill and Representative Luetkemeyer need to support real health care reform.

Elaine Blodgett  is president of League of Women Voters of Columbia/Boone County and Lael Von Holt is health chair of the League of Women Voters of Missouri.

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Ray Shapiro July 18, 2009 | 5:54 p.m.

I agreed with Obama when he implied that heath care should be a basic right for all Americans.
In fact, access to health care exists and has existed for centuries.
Once upon a time churches did the "doctoring/nursing business."
Today there are government health clinics, government hospitals, nonprofit voluntary health and human care service agencies, information on the net and in libraries regarding preventative alternative approaches and the private-for big profit sector..
Today there are also many more people who choose to live an unhealthy lifestyle, which puts a strain on the system. Many of these people living this unhealthy lifestyle are in lower income levels. Many of these people do not even take advantage or participate in existing programs, workshops, clinics and services which they are already eligible for. Do these people suddenly become smarter and lead better lifestyles thanks to Obama? Is he their miracle man? Maybe he's just another insurance salesman.
Access to health care has been around for centuries.
What that access looks like changes based on economics and humanitarian efforts.
I believe that life-saving health care services to all and our humanitarian effort to reduce human suffering of our neighbors should be a motivation greater then economic gain.
IMHO, doctors have an obligation to save lives and reduce human suffering. On the other hand, insurance companies have a financial obligation to their stockholders. As a business, insurance companies sell health care policies to the consumer and malpractice insurance to the health care provider. Insurance companies have a big part in driving up costs and impacting accessibility. It seems "immoral" to package and sell a commodity that doctors and health care professionals should be providing to the dying and suffering.
I also think that aside from government clinics and more involvement in manufacturing of vital medical equipment, supplies and medicines, the feds should not be in the insurance business either.
I believe that the AMA and our health care education/certification process needs to reform their "doctor culture" to get back to the days when being a physician meant that you were a doctor first and an entrepreneur last.
We need to change the health care culture. This would start with not viewing health care services as an insurable commodity and focus on the medical industry workers and our populace at-large.
Take "insurance" out of the picture on this one and see what happens.
My guess is that the government, medical care professionals and "patients" will do just fine without the actuaries.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 18, 2009 | 6:27 p.m.

ray shapiro that is what reasonable politicians would do but I have yet to ever meet any reasonable politicians.

(Report Comment)

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