Saratoga Springs, NY
Fixing our broken health care system requires a public health insurance option. The insurance industry lacks serious competition in 94 percent of major U.S. markets. This explains their unreasonable profits. Selling shamelessly high cost and low quality coverage to a “cherry picked” population has enriched them at everyone else’s expense. Almost every other industrialized nation in the world has acted to protect its citizens against such piracy by establishing some form of public health insurance.
Interestingly, our main difficulty in enacting such an option doesn’t come from legitimate grassroots opposition. On the contrary, scientific polling has repeatedly shown that more than 70 percent of Americans support a public option. This even includes a majority of Republicans. So, what’s the problem?
Unfortunately, the answer is even more disturbing than the existence of our dysfunctional health care system. The terrible truth is that having the support of the overwhelming majority of people means less in America than in most other democracies. This “democracy gap” underlies our worst difficulties. The inadequate health care system is a symptom of disempowerment. For as serious as our health crisis is, the money-driven political system’s lethargic response to its citizens’ needs is the more fundamental problem. After all, how much influence does support from 70 percent of us buy? What is its cash value compared to an insurance-pharmaceutical industry that has an unlimited slush fund and four paid professional lobbyists for every member of Congress to dispense it? This reality is sobering.
That’s why the struggle for a public health insurance option entails much more than mending a crippled health care system. The fight is for democracy itself. For America’s sake we must demand that our Washington legislators, Schumer (202-224-6542), Gillibrand (202-224-4451) and Murphy (202-225-5614), represent our interests by taking the lead in passing a strong “public option” this year.
Albert Ormsby, Saratoga Springs