Op Ed
August 28, 2009

eKC online welcomes op-ed submissions. Such submissions cannot be anonymous. The writer must include telephone and/or email address for verification. Op-ed submissions are subject to editing.

America’s scary healthcare policies and more
by Lloyd Walsh

I received an invitation from BarackObama.com to link up with President Obama's push on healthcare reform and to make an appointment to visit Sen. Claire McCaskill's Kansas City office to voice my opinion. I did so on August 11 and spoke with a member of the senator's staff, a Cory Dillon.

She graciously listened to my concerns dealing with excessive co-pays, 40 million-plus uninsured Americans, excessive profits for health insurance providers, coverage denied due to pre-existing conditions, coverage lost due to illness or loss of job, people going bankrupt due to medical bills, Americans paying more for less coverage and my support for single payer universal coverage similar to Medicare. There were clearly some areas of agreement and some areas of disagreement between us.

There was no real commitment, nor did I expect one, on how the Senator would ultimately vote or what would be in any final legislation. The only really clear fact I walked away from our meeting with was Sen. McCaskill's opposition to any bill that would provide for federal funds being used to pay for an abortion even if deemed medically necessary by the patient’s doctor.  My feeling is that this should be covered but I would support an otherwise acceptable bill. 

My biggest concern is that our elected leaders will not show the fortitude to lead and will yield to the "nattering nabobs of negativity," and will put forward a bill that will be too little too late. Any student of healthcare systems throughout the world knows that the United States does not have the best healthcare system in the world. We rank in the 20s, at best, among developed nations and in the mid-30s in most healthcare related areas. We pay more and get less for our dollars. While people are losing their jobs and thus their healthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield's president collects a $12 million paycheck. Executive pay is one reason why there is denial of services, insurance dropped, 42 million Americans without health insurance, and families going bankrupt everyday due to medical bills. 

My wife and myself have had physicians tell us that they would receive a bonus from the Insurance provider for keeping costs down by not performing certain procedures or having certain tests done. Fortunately, our doctors at that time weren't as interested in the possible bonuses as they were in providing good health care. 

Since our health insurance is provided by our employer, a negotiated item with my union, the Amalgamated Transit Union 1287, and the ATA, and because we are on disability, it is subject to change until the normal retirement age is reached. Because of that we have had insurance provided by virtually every major provider at one time or another, and can testify from first-hand knowledge that all healthcare is not created equal, with some is down right lousy.

Another thing I can say for sure is that each year we are paying more for less and there is no end in sight. Any increase we receive in our Social Security monthly benefits is eaten up in our insurance co-pay not to mention the increase in doctor's office costs, prescription co-pays, and such. We are losing ground every year as increases in monthly benefits fail to keep pace with increases in costs and co-pays. This is why this issue is so important to all Americans. You may be young and healthy now but you could have a stroke tomorrow, you could be in a life changing accident or a family member could come down with a debilitating disease. Your life can change in an instant. Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could know that you and your loved ones would at least have access to a doctor's office instead of an Emergency Room.

Wrap up all that stinks about the current healthcare situation in red-white and blue, put the ribbon of free market enterprise around it and the good old American profit motive, and it still stinks to high heaven. Wake up. Get out of your smog induced stupor and realize if you are indeed the true silent majority and don't get off your fat American asses and start looking out for yourself AND your neighbor, we're all going to be living in Company Housing, shopping at the Company Store, using Company Script and visiting the COMPANY Doctors.

One more thought on a slightly different bent but still pertinent.

Those Amerikans who so proudly carry their swastika-laden signs and other signs of our duly elected natural-born American citizen President, some altered with a Hitler mustache, need to do a little research on the Bush family history and their REAL Nazi connections. Seems Prescott Bush was in bed with the Nazis, all for the sake of the great American god of profit. George the First was not a whole lot better having served as head spook of the CIA who helped prop up some of the most fascist regimes in modern history: Shah Pahlavi, our guy, a torturer with death squads ruling with an iron fist in a predominately fascistic state; Saddam, our guy, while he fought the Iranians after they overthrew the Shah; Osama, our guy, trained and supplied by us to fight the Russians; and Noriega, our guy, until he got too tight with the drug cartels — the CIA hates competition. Not to be left out are all the straw-men we have propped up in South America.

Our government seems to be much more comfortable with fascists than socialists, so if you really want to raise a boogeyman to scare the bejeezus out of us true Americans, how about a Stalin or Lenin?

Lloyd Walsh is a retired ATA bus driver and former executive board member of Amalgamated Transit Union 1287. He lives with his wife, Nancy, in Independence, MO.