July, 2000
by Bruce Weik

The summer was going along just fine. One heart attack and five bypasses later, the summer has taken on a whole new direction. You become grateful for a lot of things you previously took for granted, one of which was the care I received. It was the kind of care every American should have access to. So this flubs for you, AMA, insurance companies, HMO's, pharmaceutical companies, Congress, Bush Jr., and Gore. The answers you've come up with so far to meet the health care crisis in this country are trivial and meaningless. You would sooner see individuals profit from health care rather than providing it to everyone on an equal basis.

The health care system in America is a mess. Everyone knows it. Over 40 million Americans have no health insurance. Countless others are underinsured. As premiums soar, deductibles triple, and pre-existing conditions make getting insurance impossible, corporate America does nothing more than pass on the costs to its employees. The burden becomes ours.

President Clinton promised he would do something about the health-care care crisis when he ran for the presidency in 1992. He immediately learned that corporate America is not interested in universal health-care. The government would monitor the system and profits would be limited. This is not their idea of how capitalism should work. In fact, one of the first words out of their mouths was socialism. The word seems to frighten everyone, and boy did it ever. The health-care system had grown accustom to huge profit-taking off the backs of the sick. They aren't about to let that go without a huge fight.

The idea was soundly defeated by the combined efforts of the AMA, and the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. Universal health-care was presented as an un-American idea that was an affront on the intelligence of every hard working person in America. How dare anyone challenge the right for American corporations to make unlimited profit on their investments? In its place came managed-care, a system guaranteeing the health-care industry still larger and more widespread profit.

We spend more money per person on health-care than any other country in the world. In fact, 75 percent more than the second most costly. Our prescription drugs are the most costly in the world, in spite of the fact that most are made in the United States. Treatment decisions have been taken away from doctors and given to managed-care companies. Pre-existing conditions keep millions from being able to purchase health insurance. The theme ''less care is better'' became the battle cry of managed-care. After all, business exists primarily to make a profit, not to provide more or better care.

One would have hoped the idea to hand over the nation's health-care to corporate America was just some naive notion continuing to linger around Washington. Or that President Clinton would see the dollar signs in their eyes and press on. But alas, that was not to be. The pharmaceutical industry shamelessly dumped millions of dollars into the campaign funds of Republicans and Democrats alike, ending any chances for universal health-care to be enacted. The insurance industry and the AMA did the same. Their investments managed to save the most costly, inefficient and wasteful system in the world.

Looking to corporate America to solve the health-care crisis is plain dumb. Eighty-two percent of Americans believe the health-care system needs to be completely rebuilt. To enact a single-payer, state administered, national health-care program guaranteeing health-care for every American is the only reasonable answer. America is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not have a national health-care program. We are so busy defending capitalism that we fail to see the grave injustices being done to the poor and working poor in this country. America is no longer a leader in health-care delivery in the world. We are a sorry example of greed and unbridled profit making. It has come to the point that if you can't pay for the care, too bad. That's wrong.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online July 25, 2000

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