Beware health-industrial complex

By Jack Bernard
Ledger-Enquirer
August 23, 2009

I am a Republican, former chairman of the Republican Party in Jasper County, Ga., and chair of that county commission. Under our two-party system, it is easy to see why we Republicans oppose Democratic Party reform proposals. We are the opposition party and do not want them to get the political credit for solving a nasty problem.

Since the Democrats are in the driver’s seat, it is up to them to lead and bring their stragglers in line. However, the Democrats are fighting internally, failing to articulate a straightforward vision of the future or even one bill (Obamacare, if you will).

Republican pundits are sitting back and chuckling, as they always do when reform is mentioned, and repeating the same self-serving platitudes.

What amazes me is that no one is calling these individuals to account. In my view, it is unpatriotic to continue to lie to the American public about the situation facing us. Over the last 10 years, wages have gone up by about one-fourth. Health insurance premiums have gone up well over 100 percent. We cannot continue along this path to fiscal destruction. Inaction is not an option.

It is also against American values to mislead the public into believing that everyone can get good care even if they do not have insurance. The mark of a great nation is not how well it treats its privileged, but rather how well it treats its downtrodden. On this measure, we fail miserably; strange for a nation that prides itself on being the most religious democracy in the world.

Very few health or insurance professionals advocate for a single-payer system, the best way to control costs and ensure access. I hear all sorts of reasons: rationing (really, like HMOs do not do that now), paperwork (apparently insurance company bureaucracy does not count), socialism (come on — practitioners will still be independent and we all know it) and so forth. It is rare that we hear the underlying cause openly stated: greed. It will cut my income.

The members of Physicians for a National Health Plan are an exception to this rule. If you take a look at their Web site, www.pnhp.org, the rationale for a single-payer system is clearly articulated.

Universal Medicare will both control costs and achieve universal access to high quality care. Congressmen would get the same insurance as you and I. You better believe your coverage would be just as good as or better than what you are getting now.

The problem is not technical; it is political. It is high time we put the country ahead of ourselves and establish a single-payer system.

(Jack Bernard is CEO of Monticello (Ga.) Health Care Solutions and a former chairman of the Jasper County Commission and the Jasper County Republican Party.)

http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/sunday_voices/story/814348.html

If you set politics aside and look at proposed policies for reform, the logic of a single-payer, improved Medicare for all should unite those with views as diverse as a Democrat fighting for health care justice and a Republican demanding common sense business principles that would provide all of us with much greater value in health care.

The Republicans would do well to listen to former Jasper County Republican Party chairman Jack Bernard. But it’s also the Democrats who must lay down their swords and health insurer lobby money, and listen to this gentleman. The price of maintaining a partisan barrier is too high.