Regarding Mr. Henry Mills’ Aug. 1 letter on the nature of “Obamacare,” I have a few things I would like to say. First, I will say that the act itself is a step in the right direction, not necessarily the right action but definitely a beginning. Then, I would like to make the point that government involvement in our health has been both positive and ubiquitous to the point of invisibility.
I will concede to you that the Affordable Care Act is, in your own words, “a tax bill, not a healthcare bill.” The passage of law by our Congress without reading the text of the bill was heinous and irresponsible. The taxes in the law are a mixed bag of those necessary for the function of Affordable Care Act and seemingly irrelevant taxes such as the notorious 3.8 percent sale tax on private property. What we need in our nation is a healthcare act, not an act sneaking in new taxes in an underhanded fashion.
Here’s where I begin to disagree with you: personal responsibility. The idea that private organizations will always give money to those in need is naïve and fallacious. It is a philosophy related to the idea of trickle down economics, which did not work in the 1980s and did not work when it was used in the 2000s. The people with the capital do not give their money up en masse. Sure, some organizations, such as St. Thomas, and private individual doctors give up their time, money and resources to help a few less fortunate individuals, but this is not the norm. Many uninsured Americans are afraid to seek medical help for ailments great and small for the simple fact that health insurance is unavailable to them. Having some sort of government involvement will eliminate that fear and will open up hospitals to all Americans. Remember: freedom from want, freedom from fear.
The US government has been involved in health for most citizens’ lifetimes, and many do not see that. The government’s role in our health is so commonplace we tend to forget about it. Since the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1920 and other acts improving our quality of life, American health and performance has changed drastically. Due to government involvement, our lives have grown longer and healthier. Government action does not always cause waste, fraud and abuse as evidenced by our improved quality of life since the beginning of the 20th century. Saying that it is always the root of waste is a crude generalization. The Affordable Care Act, as it is today, is classic waste, fraud and abuse, but that does not mean we shouldn’t attempt to make new iterations of it.
Finally, as for your question about Canadian healthcare, this is always the first example brought up in a discussion of universal healthcare, and its usage implies a willful ignorance. Yes, Canadian healthcare may be a failure, but most other industrialized nations in the developed world have a system of socialized (oh, that dreaded word) medicine, too. Here’s a list of a few of them: Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, The Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. All of these nations have a triple A credit rating from Standard and Poors. It is possible to keep a healthy economy while keeping your citizenry insured. America, you may recall, was recently downgraded from triple A standing.
Matt Crane, Cadiz