As a monthly recipient of Social Security retirement benefits, I want to be part of the solution to this country's problems. Some other countries are experiencing riots in the streets over their government benefits; benefits about workplace and retirement pay and age of retirement. In France, they are rioting over extending the retirement age from 60 to 62. In Greece, they have taken to the streets over lowering pay, among other things.
As an American, it is hard for me to relate to what seems to be quite reasonable reforms. Unlike many others, I am not opposed to seeing my monthly benefits automatically rise every year. If it helps save the system for future generations -- count me in.
Medicare is the basis of my healthcare, and I can tell you, first hand, it is wonderful to have coverage after five years of going without a hip-joint replacement. I was walking with two canes and taking all the painkillers I could without losing my mind. That long wait would not have happened in the modern countries with better-run government healthcare systems. I say "better-run government healthcare systems," because in many ways our system is already government-run with its myriad laws and regulations. These rules and regulations are the reason we have so much waste and inefficiency, while at the same time allowing many suppliers and providers to get away with fraud.
I knew the healthcare reform was headed for disaster from the beginning of this year's Congress. The first thing the president did was cave into the drug companies. You may not realize it, but we do not have free markets for drugs in this country. We are, also, the only modern country in the world that allows the open advertising of prescription drugs. The drug companies in America are given market protections that keep you from buying your drugs from overseas or Canada at lower prices. By making huge donations to the campaign coffers of Congress and spending millions of dollars each on lobbying them, the drug companies can afford to assign three lobbyists to each Senator and Representative. The White House went along with the Congressional leadership at the very beginning of the crafting of a new healthcare bill to let the drug companies keep all their protections and the fix was in.
Next, the White House caved into the insurance companies, which also have three more lobbyists assigned to each member of Congress. The insurance companies will now have even more customers than before, because everyone will have to buy insurance from a private company. Talk about a bird's nest on the ground!
On top of that, throw in the lobbyists for the hospitals, suppliers and the American Medical Association and you end up with ten healthcare-related lobbyists for each member of Congress. During the last days of the healthcare debate, they were spending $10 million a week.
In a way, the lobbying does not stop there. The television industry is also at the root of the problem. Offending some of their best nation-wide healthcare- related customers would be foolish. As a result, the news departments never give any coverage to how other nations provide quality healthcare at half the cost. It all leaves Americans in the dark.
President Obama blew it. He had a chance to reform our system, but caved into the powers that be and left us with a bastardized plan that left them smiling.
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