Part 5 – How Did We Get Here — Democracy Is Not Always Forward…

GetHere Banner  I sometimes naively think that democracy is always moving forward into a better future rather than trying to preserve the status quo or even bring back the past.  Of course that feeling was quickly sapped from me on November 8 when the rural hinterland voters came out in massive numbers for a Trump presidency. It seems that they are just too afraid of what the future holds so want someone who will bring back the good old days and make America Great Again. To me America has always been great so there was no “bringing back” needed but of course2016-11-25_10-20-32.png my neighbors have a different opinion about that.

Having the feeling of being ignored and fearful of a unknowable future is nothing new to our country but it saddens to see it so prominent in the 21st century. I had hoped that we had finally conquered that fear but that just isn’t the case. What can be done to appease the fear of those in rural areas?  That is the major question of our times it seems.

Democracy depends on an informed and active electorate and that just didn’t happen this time around.  It is now known that the minority turnout at this election was the lowest in twenty years and that fact helped lead us to where we are today with a totally unprepared narcissist ready to take over the Oval Office. A narcissist who actually cares very little for anyone except himself.

If people don’t stay informed or worse fail to do the duty by voting in a democracy  then things can quickly spiral out of control.  I know that many red States have done almost everything possible to suppress the minority vote but that should be more the reason for them to come out in even greater numbers. One of the most frustrating things for me is when I spend so much energy talking about diversity and minority rights and then discover that those I am trying to help don’t even help themselves by voting! If they don’t bother to help themselves then why should I?  That question is tugging at me lately.  Our form of democracy has proven to be very flexible but that does not mean that it can’t break very quickly.

Now that the GOP pretty much controls everything it will be interesting to see the response to the possible coming changes.

  • How will those hinterland seniors react to Mr. Ryan finally being able to privatize  Medicare  and replacing it with a voucher system?
  • How will parents react when they discover that educating their kids is no longer a priority of the nation?
  • How will fiscal conservatives react when the deficits balloon beyond anything imaginable?
  • How will all of us react when the results of billionaires who will now run the country both fiscally and politically when they make laws primarily for their own gain?

Will our system be able to absorb the backlash and wait for the pendulum to swing back to the center again?  That is an open ended question that will likely have an answer in the coming years.  Nothing is a done deal when it comes to a fragile democracy.

Why Are We Crippling Obamacare with Private Insurance Companies When Medicare Can Do The Job??

2015-11-20_08-28-13A threat by the nation’s largest health insurer to pull out of ObamaCare is a sign of the industry’s growing angst about the viability of the federal exchanges, sources close to the industry say.

UnitedHealthcare’s warning sent new shockwaves across the healthcare sector after weeks of mounting anxiety among private insurers whose participation in the exchanges is critical to the viability of the president’s signature law.

In the last month alone, insurers have learned that the Obama administration has significantly lowered its expectations for new customers and will have far fewer federal dollars to help cushion insurer losses.

Source: New ObamaCare angst as top insurer threatens to bail | TheHill

I can just hear all those nay-Sayers  “Here’s proof that Obamacare is a failure!” and in some ways I agree with them. Private insurers are certainly the weakest link in the current system.

I have been on Medicare for about 5 years now and have been paying about $100 a month for that privilege.  It covers 80% of my medical costs so I must either pay  the remainder or get Medigap coverage for the other 20%. I chose a Medigap policy that started out at about $150 a month to cover that last fifth of the costs. Now that policy is up to almost $200 and will climb to over $300 in the coming years.

It doesn’t take a lot of math to figure out that I am paying a private “for profit” insurer ten time more for the same dollar coverage that Medicare provides. Yes, I know that Medicare is paid as a government expense but it has also been widely acknowledged as the most efficient insurance provider in the country. Single payer systems have proven to be the most economical way to provide healthcare to the world’s citizens. We are about the only first world country that refuses recognize that fact.

It seems obvious to this pragmatist that our country and especially our private corporations would be better off if they could shed their healthcare responsibilities and have Medicare as the country’s single payer provider of healthcare costs.  In fact there are many companies that are doing just that. With single payer systems comes economy of scale and also increased leverage over medical manufacturers and such. Aside from a law pushed through by the GOP why do we in this country pay so much more for our prescriptions than anyone else in the world?

As a side note it seems that on a regular basis veteran’s care is attacked by problems of poor implementation. Our veterans are just not getting the quality of care that they deserve under their current system.  Maybe it is time to at least fold it into Medicare instead of trying to stand alone.  Almost half of our citizens are currently on government provided single payer system. When we finally manage to get the rest there like the rest of the world we will all be better off.

 

VA Hospital Problems….

2014-05-30_09-29-20Shinseki reiterated other steps he’s taken, including putting the leadership at the Phoenix facility on leave and ordering a “nationwide audit of all other major VA health care facilities to ensure understanding of, and compliance with, our appointment policy.” Some question whether removing Shinseki would address the core problems at the VA or simply serve as a distraction for now.”Is him resigning going to get us to the bottom of the problem? Is it going to help us find out what’s really going on?,” asked House Speaker John Boehner, the chamber’s top Republican, adding that his answer so far was “no.” SOURCE: Shinseki initiating removal of senior leaders at Phoenix VA – CNN.com.

I don’t know about you but it seems I have been hearing the above type problems with the VA almost all of my life. It was pleasantly surprising to see that the top House Republican saying firing another head of that agency won’t fix the problem. If fact it would probably just delay the fixes more.

I’m just a simple guy but it seems that the solution to this problem is pretty logical. Why not just put veterans into the Medicare system? I have been on Medicare for about three years now and have never had to wait more than one month to see any specialist. The article above talks about 115 day waits in the Phoenix VA hospital!  Another fundamental question seems to be why does the VA need their own hospitals? Why can’t they go to the same hospitals as the rest of us.  If PTSD or other specialists are needed I’m sure they could be hired from the existing VA or trained by the private sector.

I’m pretty sure my conservative friends would jump on this solution as WRONG. Maybe we are reversing roles here. I say let the private sector take care of our veterans the same way as they take care of us seniors.  One thing that would be nice to carry over from the VA is for Medicare to be able to negotiate drug prices. VA can presently do that while Medicare can’t. That alone would save us billions in healthcare costs.

Eventually, probably not in my life time, all our health care will be folded into a single payer system as much of the rest of the world has already done. But until that time it just seems to make sense to once and for all get rid of these perpetual problems with VA hospitals. Our young men and women who have been traumatized by their war experiences deserve it. But then again this solution just seems to be common sense and logical so I doubt that those folks in Washington will even consider it…..

Back Door Universal Healthcare…

Medicaid Expansion 2023

Anyone who has read some of my posts know that I am an advocate for universal single-payer healthcare.  After all, it is very efficient and cost containing system used in much of the rest of the world.  Many of our citizens in the U.S. including this one are currently on a single payer system known as Medicare. After being on it for two years now I can attest that I have found it to be much better than the private insurance mode I fought with for so many years prior. Other citizens also on a single-payer system are those on Medicaid and with military healthcare systems. This makes up about 40% of the current population. The other 60% are on various employer or private systems or no insurance at all.

But to those so adamantly against Obamacare, which ended up not even be close to single-payer all of these systems are to be eliminated. Just why they believe that I really don’t know. They say those systems are socialist but why is that a bad thing?  Most of the rest of the world, at least those who no longer have the mammoth healthcare runaway costs implemented single payer systems years ago and statistically most in those countries actually live longer than we do.

When the pollsters show that 52% of the people are against Obamacare what they don’t show is that there is a significant number of those people who are like me and don’t really like Obamacare because it doesn’t go far enough. There are also a large portion in the polls who readily admit that they actually know practically nothing about Obamacare and are only parroting what their favorite talking-head has told them. They are against it because their party is against it.  So much for free-thinkers among the GOP!🙂  Because Obamacare is such a piecemeal piece of legislation it will have to be pretty greatly changed in the future in order to be cost-effective.

Getting back to the original thoughts for this post, it seems if we are patient enough that we will eventually get to a single payer system. With all us baby boomers retiring and so many others at the other end of the spectrum becoming eligible for Medicaid the population that is in these two systems will continue to grow.  and then of course with our incessant increases in military spending that system will also expand. We might eventually work our way into a single payer system via the back door.

Wouldn’t that be something?