The Journal Gazette
Thursday, May 03, 2018 1:00 am

Help examine health care options

Elaine Fazzaro And Edith Kenna

We are all tired of still having to talk about health care, but many are still struggling with this broken health care non-system that fails to provide reasonable access or affordable medical care when needed.

Health care is one-sixth of our gross domestic product, and one might think that, because of that, we might want to do a better job.

As Warren Buffett has said, “Health care is the tapeworm in our economy.” And America is being eaten alive.

The Affordable Care Act did make some progress in making health care available to more people. Yet thousands of people have been left out in many states that failed to expand Medicaid. The marketplace exchanges have been cumbersome and unwieldy, and ordinary Americans have needed professional navigators to access care.

And now, of course, Congress has bollixed up the works even more. The American Health Care Act failed because it offered nothing in the way of health care to Americans.

Senators were nervous about going home to greet constituents who may have expected positive change and not a Rubik's cube of health care options –inaccessible, unaffordable and beyond understanding. And now, we have all kinds of attempts by both parties to limit care to make political gains and not better care for us.

There are problems and lawsuits regarding the cost-sharing reductions rates to private insurance companies (your hard-earned tax dollars paid to insurance companies so that each company continues to profit) and association plans that are less expensive, offer fewer covered services and reflect pre-existing conditions, age and gender rating.

The Democratic Party is back with a version of the public option which may shrink the risk pool and will drive up costs on the exchanges without making Medicare payments viable for providers.

Congress continues to talk about privatizing Medicaid and Medicare, requiring recipients to work. Nothing, absolutely nothing, despite the president's promise, has been done to control ever-rising pharmaceutical prices.

Premiums continue to rise with an intentionally skimpy network of providers and entirely unfettered cost increases for co-pays, medications and medical services.

It defies credibility that the nation that first split the atom, sent astronauts to the moon and developed the internet cannot devise a functioning health care system. Our lack of such a system is a major public health problem, a social problem, an economic problem and a moral crisis.

This deficiency is not one of means, but of motivation. The for-profit system of health care, where we are vehicles to make profits, is a Titanic of a failed system.

If we learned one thing from the ACA, if the for-profit health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies need to be subsidized by our tax dollars, they are failed businesses at what their intent was in the beginning. Private health insurance, with profit as the motive, is unaffordable to individuals and to employers who want to provide it as a benefit to workers.

There has never been a public hearing on a single-payer health care, Medicare for All plan. Never, though House Resolution 676 was first introduced in 2004 by Rep. John Conyers, Democrat of Michigan. Single payer was not part of the discussion when crafting the ACA. Currently, there are 100 representatives who endorse HR 676, and Sen. Bernie Sanders I-Vermont, has introduced S 1804; there are 18 co-sponsoring senators.

If a for-profit system could work, why hasn't it worked yet? Because it can't; it no longer meets the needs of America's people, our business models or our economy.

It works for the profiteers

If you think it's working, think of your neighbors, think of other Americans. And think about what will happen if you or a family member becomes critically or chronically sick.

Access to affordable, portable and quality care is something each of us needs. If you think health care is not a right, then it is certainly a public good. America cannot be strong if its people are sick.

Health care is a service that can unite us, not divide us.

Winston Churchill knew that in Britain after World War II, and Otto von Bismarck knew in 1883 that providing national health care to its citizens would loosen the grip of socialism in Germany.

Congress refuses to have a hearing on a Medicare for All system of health care. So Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Care is holding a public forum on Sunday at the Allen County Public Library.

Most clergy in the city have been invited. We have invited many elected officials, and we are inviting you to this civil discussion about what we can do to improve health care in this country.

Five physicians and other health care professionals will be present to discuss with you and to answer your questions.

We need you. We need one another. Please come and participate. Simply put, access to affordable, portable, quality and equitable health care is a matter of life and death.

Elaine Fazzaro, left, and Edith Kenna are coordinators for Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan. 

Health care forum 1:30 p.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Allen County Public Library, downtown Fort Wayne, Meeting Room A

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