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COLUMN: What will be done about health care?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 9:45 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I guess I am just going to have to force myself to believe that in spite of all the terrible stories I hear about insurance companies, the overwhelming majority of Americans must be satisfied with their health care. I say that because in this day when almost everyone in this country has at least one telephone, access to a computer, a post office, or a fax machine, that if health care is an issue not getting in touch with a member of Congress, especially one who is standing in the way of health care reform should not be an option. And any advocacy group who knows that some individuals spend hours a day texting their social networks and cannot get members of their group to better use their time needs to find another cause.

In the old days congressional leaders could hide from telephone calls and throw letters in the wastebasket but nowadays there is no hiding place for them. So, if they are not forced to face the consequences of their behavior it's nobody's fault but the public's. I don't think anyone can smirk at the possibility of getting thousands of e-mails a day or thousands of faxes. I personally tremble at the thought of it and it would certainly be irresponsible for anyone planning to run for elected office simply to ignore appeals from the public.

In any case, I really hope people are looking at the big picture. What are individuals and their families to do when they get sick, have no insurance and cannot pay the bills for health care providers? Most hospitals are required to treat sick people without consideration of their ability to pay.

Will states be required to pay for these people from their welfare program funds which rely on tax-payer monies? Will the federal government have to step in to subsidize the states? Will those who can afford insurance be forced to pay higher rates to cover the losses these providers suffer?

Isn't it true that if the sick cannot afford to pay, the healthy people will have to pay the bill? Where do we come to the point that all of us do not have to go into our pockets to pay for the uninsured?

I guess I don't see any way around this. Medical practitioners and hospitals are entitled to be paid for their services. Aside from the government, who else can come up with a plan to cover the uninsured sick? I've seen films of Third World countries where dead people are piled up along the sidewalks. As convinced as the optimists are that this could never happen in America would you show us doubters the plan that prevents sick people who cannot afford treatment from getting terminally ill and dropping dead in the streets? Will those who cannot afford life insurance or burial plans be interred free-of-charge or will they have to be piled up in morgues until there is no more space?

Of course, from the condition this country is already in, caused by this dysfunctional political system, probably in a few years dead bodies piled on the street will be a small problem compared to other troubles we will have. At least these problems will no longer have to be dealt with by the middle class – because there will not be a middle class. The poor, of course, will be in no condition to help out, so that leaves the fat cats (the ones with the big bonuses) with this mess of their own creation. Maybe, some other country will be willing and able to pull us out of the danger zone.

Want to hold your breath while waiting?

Still, I have faith in those individuals who have tried to live a decent life and do the right things when they have had the opportunity to make a difference. These are the folks who are concerned about the legacy they will leave behind for the children of the world and I am confident they will find some way to weather whatever storms we may face.

I hope in days to come those who failed to see the difficulties they were opening the door to by inaction will profit from the lessons learned. I try to believe that these individuals did not really understand that this democracy of ours was at best, just a noble experiment. But in spite of its many shortcomings, it turned out to be land of great promise.

Hopefully, this health care crisis too shall pass.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at nolen@iland.net.


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