HMO's and the GOP


Let's see. Will all those people who fell for the lies contained in the "Harry and Louise" ads run by the Republican Party back in 1993 please raise their hands? Now, would all those who can tell the difference between what was offered in Clinton's plan and what is provided by the HMO's, those corporate horrors so loved by the GOP, also raise their hands? If you noticed a decided lack of response to the second query, I'm not surprised.

The GOP attacked Clinton's health plan because it didn't offer you the option of choosing your doctor. The HMO's, save for a few special policies, just assign you to whomever they choose.

The GOP attacked the plan as "Big Government" and a "tax increase" for the premiums on what was basically complete medical coverage for all Americans. The HMO's have raised their fees to the few who can afford their policies while decreasing services and even refusing to provide life-saving procedures whenever they deem it too expensive, something even Clinton's plan wasn't stooping to.

The Clinton plan allowed patients to sue in cases of medical malpractice, a supreme right when an individual's life and health are placed in the hands of a, supposedly, well-trained physician. The Republicans are in the process of making it law that no HMO may be sued over the refusal to provide even life saving procedures and are creating silly "arbitration boards" made up entirely of people hired by the HMO's, themselves.

The GOP went into political convulsions over the idea of some government bureaucrat making medical decisions about medical tests and procedures already ordered as necessary by a doctor. The HMO's gleefully limit the care available by allowing low paid and medically uneducated corporate bureaucrats make medical decisions based on profits which may well cost the patient his life but will benefit the stockholders in the HMO at dividend time.

What say we demand a law which will pretty much alleviate the power of the HMO's over your health? Perhaps the law should require the HMO's to provide any procedure ordered by the physician or to be liable for large fines and settlements should their action result in any further degree of illness or disability or death? The HMO's would be allowed to create internal procedures covering physicians who the company feels are over-prescribing medical operations. Of course, the physicians must be able to protect themselves legally, as well, but the point that any part of the process is completely above the law must be ended.

The reality is that we must remove the power to provide certain human needs from the clutches of Corporate America. They cannot ever be trusted to do the fair and just thing in any area, let alone when it comes to the health or well-being of anyone. Their greed and ignoble pursuit of profit at any cost to the consumer must be forever removed from between what the patient needs and what medical science can offer.

And, yes, I believe with all of my heart that every person alive deserves and has every right to the very best medical attention available. I also believe, as well, that every one of us deserves and has every right to the very best education, housing, food and anything else that is necessary for a decent life.

The ability to accumulate wealth is a very absurd and un-Christian skill practiced by the few to whom little else in God's creation has importance. This narrow talent should never determine the level at which anyone should be given the tools to succeed in whatever direction they chose for their lives, particularly in the area of their health. Our children, in particular, deserve far better treatment than the nastiness and greed which typifies America's medical insurers.

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Copyright 9/5/98