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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

February 10, 2008


Health Care Mandates

It's funny when you consider the things the Right wants to make mandatory. Take school prayer, for example. I'm not against anyone praying but I am against using prayer as a means to either convert or ostracize those whose beliefs are different than yours.

In a nation where we mandate that our taxpayers subsidize insurance companies who take huge premiums then cry poverty when they actually have to pay a claim, we ignore the most obvious need of making sure each and every person living within our borders has the right to see a doctor when they are sick. A mandate which forces each and every one of us to have health care is not only a good idea which requires consideration, it's the only choice we have.

By now, we're all familiar with the moral reasons that a health care mandate is the only choice, but there's another reason as well, and it all comes down to dollars. Any health care plan which our new Democratic President (and it has to be a democratic President because John McCain has already taken the Bush Health Savings Accounts as his own) puts forth has to account for those of us who don't go to doctors when they are sick. How many of us have looked at "that little thing" on our arm or leg and ignored it? And how many who ignored it found out later that it was a skin melanoma? And how many of those people found out when it was too late?

I often wonder how many of us don't go to a doctor when we're not feeling well because we're out of shape and just don't want to hear what the medical advice is going to be. After all, no news is good news, right?

Making sure all Americans have health care will allow each and every one of us who needs to, or merely wants to see a doctor be able to see that doctor. it will also reduce the costs of health care nationally because a great many of us who don't see a doctor before it's too late will have the ability to get that checkup to either find our that they're healthily, need a little work, or hear the words, "It's a good thing you got here when you did."

But a financial mandate isn't enough. What I think should be included in any health care mandate is a floating national health check up day. Most of us who are actively employed today get sick and/ or personal days to either take off when we're feeling ill, go to the DMV or use for any other number of reasons. My proposal is to mandate that employers give their employees an extra personal day each year to go to the doctor. It would work something like this:

-Each employee makes a doctor's appointment;
-The employee would get that day off, with pay;
-The employee would then have to bring a note back from the doctor merely stating that the employee showed up.

A health care plan which not only mandates its purchase, but its use, will be the safest and the most cost effective health care plan we could have. Certainly some would object to being forced to have to go to a doctor for regular, annual checkups saying that it would be a restriction on their first amendment rights, and it might actually be. For those individuals I say okay, but you don't get that extra day off.

A Single Payer Universal Health Care (SPUHC) plan might be the idea we should strive towards but it isn't going to happen any time soon. We have seen the power of the health insurance industry and the destruction which Hillary Clinton lived through in 1993-1994 when she tried in vain to gain health care for all as First Lady. It didn't end well and many say that it was the reason the Democrats lost control of the Congress in 1994. I'm one of them. There will be no SPUHC plan as long as the legal system of bribery - a.k.a. paid lobbyists - are allowed to run unperturbed throughout our halls of government. But the cry for a universal health care plan has grown to not only include those of us without coverage, but those of us without enough coverage. It also includes those of us who are paying way too much, whether it be in co-pays, deductibles, employee participation fees or the dreaded "usual and customary" holes which force too many to pay for the health care bills that insurance companies simply don't want to pay. There is no recourse for the latter except to pay or fight, and lose.

Any health care plan which comes out of our next Democratic government has to address the cost factor. Everyone has to be able to afford their health care. Whereas some of us are paying our employee participation out of our paychecks today, too many are paying too large a sum. Employee participation rates, as well as health care insurance costs, in general, should be based on what we can afford, not what they can get out of us.

In the end, health care has to take care of our bodies and our pocketbooks. If allowed to continue, the health care industrial complex is going to have to have regulations and watchdogs and be a part of the solution instead of being the major part of the problem.

Finally, with all Americans included in the new health care family, everyone would have a national health insurance card which states the insurance company name and contact information on its face. A national database of individuals should also be available on a secured government website to look up an individuals insurance when a card is forgotten of an emergency occurs. Medical records could be kept in that same database at each person's request and approval.

-Noah Greenberg

In response to, "Could a WOMAN with the credentials of Barack Obama have risen to the national stage, even if she had the same push from Oprah and Hollywood?" Eddie Konczal writes:

Hillary Clinton's elected experience: Won 2 U.S. Senate elections, has been in U.S. Senate since 2001

Barack's Obama's elected experience: 8 years in the Illinois State Senate (1997-2005), won 1 U.S. Senate election, has been in U.S Senate since 2005. (I believe he won all these elections before his first appearance on Oprah - fact check requested).

Thus, Barack Obama has held elected office for 11 years to Hillary's 7.

None of this is a knock on Hillary; I just think her alleged advantage in experience is overstated. I don't think First Lady of Arkansas or the U.S. qualify as elected offices.

In response to, "While it's true that mandates alone won't help with reducing the price to those of us who already have health insurance, we need to start someplace and sometime." Robert Scardapane writes:

Actually, we keep missing it. The significant step is not mandates but opening the government sponsored health care pool to non-government workers.

In response to, "NeoCons aren't pleased with McCain because they feel that they won't be able to control him the way they did President Bush," Robert Scardapane writes:

I am baffled by this. The NeoCons don't have confidence in the man that sings:

"Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran"

Maybe they just don't like his voice. I think his foreign policy is very much neoconservative. I believe that the arch-conservatives don't like his views on issues such as immigration. He was booed at the right wing CPAC conference once he started to talk about immigration.

In response to, "Obama, alas, has the worst voting record for abstentions in the Senate," Robert Scardapane writes:

This is inaccurate. McCain has an over 50% record of not voting in the Senate (much higher than any candidate). McCain even missed the vote on the economic stimulus bill (that failed by 1 vote!).

In response to Madman's pointing out that the NeoCons don't like John McCain, Victoria Brownworth writes:

The suggestion that John McCain won't be a formidable candidate against either Clinton or Obama is nice positive thinking and Oprah would approve, but it doesn't reflect the reality of what the fight will be like.

Greenberg suggests that because some Republicans don't like some of Mc Cain's former--and I emphasize former--political viewpoints that somehow they won't rally around him.

While that would be GREAT for our side, it's never gonna happen.

First of all, the Republicans don't eat their own like the Democrats do. I see constant efforts by Democrats to destroy the candidates we have--much more addressed toward Clinton, but there's some toward Obama as well. Do we hate the idea of succeeding THAT MUCH?

McCain 2008 is NOT McCain 2008. Look at the transcripts of the debates. This guy is just to the right of Genghis Khan. Maybe in the alternate reality of the Republicans he's not right wing ENOUGH, but when even Pat Buchanan said this morning that McCain would make Cheney look like Gandhi, I think we need to worry. A lot.

And remember--McCain wants this so badly he will do anything to get it. This guy drags his 96 year old mother around the country with him in a wagon to prove he's not too old. When he had no more money to campaign, he was taking red eye commuter flights at 1am and carrying his own bags.

This guys lived for five years in a tiger cage in Vietnam.

And he believes in Iraq. He believes in the tax cuts. He says "Islamofascism" the way the rest of us say "what's for dinner?"

And he's very convincing. For all those military families DESPERATE to find a reason for the eighth deployment or the death or the maiming, he's their answer. Look at him--he survived Vietnam and he still believes in Iraq!

McCain may not have the neo-con label, but he's been the water-bearer for George Bush for years now. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security on that one.

And he also may make the scariest choice yet for VP--not Huckabee, but Giuliani. Or--worst case scenario--Giuliani as secretary of state.

It's a long way till November, kids. And we have miles to go before we sleep.

In response to, "Hmmm ... I was sort of under the impression that Hillary rose to the national stage because her husband was governor and then president. But I could be mistaken, Victoria Brownworth responds:

Hmm, indeed. My memory is that Hillary Clinton was working on briefs for Watergate. In 1988, 1990 and 1991 she was named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by the BAR association. And that had nothing to do with a husband, just her own intellect and hard work.

The work the right has done smearing Hillary Clinton has been very effective. Now Democrats believe their lies. And we think they will keep the gloves on with Barack Hussein Obama? They are getting the swift boats ready even as we speak.

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-Noah Greenberg