POSTED ON AUGUST 10, 2011:
Love Letters/Hate Mail
(In response to "Ah, So Epiphany" in the August 4-10 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
Great story by Holly Wall on Oh Tulsa! If it's not too much bother, would you please turn the "Dancin' on Brady" artwork 180 degrees? It's upside down. Thanks.
Editor's Note: Who knew that was upside down? Really?
(In response to "Cheesesteak Whiz-ards" in the August 4-10 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
Joshua Peck is a fine writer, and of course the author of last week's sushi review is famous for her fine writing, but what happened to Joseph Hamilton? Is he taking a break from the heat? I admire his reviews and he's the only food reviewer I know who is a graduate of a top cooking school. So if he's gone he will be missed.
Editor's Note: Enjoy the new foodies, but check out Hamilton's latest review on Page 20.
Take A Bow
(In response "Ah, So Epiphany" in the August 4-10 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
Hey, gang!! I just wanted to say "THANK YOU" to Mandie, Keith, Holly and Sylvia for the terrific article, photos and THE COVER of Urban Tulsa! WOW!!!
Thanks so much for the terrific coverage, insightful and intelligent writing, great photos and the generosity of allowing Oh, Tulsa! to be on the cover of Urban Tulsa -- I understand that that is a rarity and I just wanted you to know that it has not gone unappreciated. All I can say is thank you to all of you!
Think About It
With all of the recent talk from the Right about defunding or repealing Obamacare, I decided to research what our health system is like and what the effects of Obamacare would be. After the last few months of reading and listening, I have come to the conclusion that we should uphold Obamacare, not only because it is in our country's collective interest, but also because it is the right thing to do.
Back in the 1970s the United States had 26 million Americans who were uninsured. Today, that number is 50 million -- 50 million individuals; all of whom have a face, a family, a job and all of whom could lose everything due to a devastating illness.
However, the majority of us do have health insurance and are decently happy with it. That is the question, how do we help the minority of the population who doesn't have insurance but still protect those of us who do? Obamacare is an intelligently crafted law that tries to do just that. The Affordable Care Act expands coverage in two ways: by extending Medicaid to poor people who have been cut out, and by creating insurance exchanges where you can buy a plan under new guidelines. These new regulations range from giving subsidies for mid level plans so that the cost is no more than 8 percent of income to companies not being able to deny care for preexisting conditions. This exchange, the Health Connector, has already been implemented in Massachusetts (under then Governor Romney).
Conservatives would like to call Obamacare a government takeover of health insurance industry. This is far from the case. Its aim is to create a better functioning market.
Republicans will tell you this law will explode the deficit, however, the Congressional Budget Office tells us it will reduce it. It's ironic to me that Republicans are all the sudden worried about the deficit considering what happened under their watch just after Clinton left office: they cut taxes, gave seniors a Medicare prescription drug plan with no financing, and invaded Iraq with no new taxes. Now what happened with health costs during Republican control of both houses and the presidency (2001-06)? Family health insurance premiums went up 87 percent compared to a 20 percent increase in general inflation and the decline of 3 percent in median household income.
John Boehner (R) has argued that it is common sense that increasing coverage by 320 million people will obviously increase the deficit, not lower it. I don't think that is common sense at all. Look at Germany, France, Switzerland and Japan. All countries which cover everyone, have better care and easier access, and spend less than we do.
Obamacare has three basic approaches to saving money: getting rid of corporate welfare (subsidies to private insurance carriers who cover Medicare), asking the people who are the very wealthiest in our society and have benefited the most to pay a little more in taxes, and dozens of ways to attack waste (not paying hospitals if a patient gets an infection, duplicative treatment, electronic records, etc).
Not only has the CBO (our most reliable source) said it will reduce the deficit, but so has David Cutler (John Bates Clarke Medal for best economist under 40 at Harvard), Jonathen Gruber (MIT), and Mark McClellan (ran Medicare under Bush).
Under current law, if a company wanted to drop all of its employees' health coverage plans, they could. The Affordable Care Act implements a penalty for companies that drop coverage and gives dropped individuals subsidies to buy the insurance on the exchanges. Republicans have continually said that this will eliminate choice for individuals since most companies will not be able to afford to pay for these new plans and will drop the people which will force people into government plans. But if this is the case, we should see it happening in Massachusetts. It hasn't happened.
Instead of the exchanges, Republicans want to give every single American a tax credit to go buy their own coverage of their own choice with no individual mandate. However, the reason there is an individual mandate in this law is to eliminate the actions of people who only will buy insurance when they get sick.
What I have taken away from reading and watching the debates over the health care system is that something intangible is missing from them. Every debate solely centers on cost as we continue to treat patients like economic commodities. The arguments are entirely out of touch with the human side of illness. The Affordable Care Act may not be perfect, but it is definitely a good step in the right direction into covering all citizens of our country. Not every aspect of the law is popular, but if you test the individual elements of it they are: protection against preexisting conditions, kids being allowed to stay on their parents plan until they are 26, etc. This was bipartisan legislation; we just don't live in a bipartisan era.
Republicans proposed a more liberal plan under the Nixon administration along with almost the exact plan just 12 years ago (not to mention Mitt Romney's plan). Two years ago we had a presidential election where this was one of the major issues for the Democratic Party. They told us what they were going to do, and America voted to give them both houses and the presidency in order to get health care reform passed. They did just that. Let's build on it.
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A41747