Equal Access To Medical Care For All - The Bush Policies

In a nation as wealthy as the United States, it is nothing less than a crime of genocide that any poor American should ever die only because they were without access to the same medical care enjoyed by those in the federal legislative and executive branches of our government. These are the same clowns who try their hardest to insure (yup, a pun) that all health care decisions are controlled by profit engorged corporations who not only allow the ill to die in the name of more and more profits but who also limits who gets the access by charging staggering fees for their insurance in the first place.

As anyone who actually cares about the world and its people and who believes that everyone should have equal access too all of America’s bounty will proclaim, America’s health care system is a class system of the worst kind (you Republicans and Rabid Religious Right zealots can go find something else to do instead of going any further since you won’t understand much of what follows and will only get perplexed by what little you do).

Where do the three viable candidates stand on this all important issue and what can we deduce from their historic actions on the subject? Plenty!

Let’s start with Tumbleweed, again. He has had a five year record to examine as Gov. of Texas and, as is the case with all politicians, actions always speak louder than promises made in the heat of a close campaign, promises that are very seldom even remembered, let alone kept.

As usual, we prefer to always base our opinions on facts, not the warmed over opinions of talking heads or half wit pundits. Therefore, let’s consider the following statistics for the great state of Texas:

Ranking of all states for children without any form of health insurance - 2nd ( 1 )
Ranking in percentage of all children in state without insurance - 1st ( 1 )
Ranking in percentage of poor working parents without health insurance - 1st ( 1 )
Ranking in percentage of entire population without health insurance - 1st ( 1 )
Ranking of percentage of total population stripped of Medicare funds - 1st ( 2 )
Ranking of teen birth rate - 5th ( 3 )
Per capita funding for public health - 48th (3 )
Mothers receiving prenatal care - 45th ( 4 )

Reason given for attempting to disallow 228,000 children from enrolling in the federal/state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)? He needed the funds to pay for the huge state tax cut he was planning that was eventually passed just before declaring himself a candidate for the presidency.

Let’s see what sort of plan he does think will suffice for the people of America, shall we?

He’s offering the poor and elderly seniors 100% coverage for all prescription drugs for those with incomes below $11,300 (single) or $15,200 (couple). For seniors with income below $14,600 (single) or $19,700 (couple), they would receive a partial subsidy. For all other seniors, once they have paid $6,000 in a year, the government picks up all of the remaining costs.

Okay, that’s not bad, except it isn’t clear who would be responsible for paying that subsidy. Does the pharmacist get the rebate from the government or is it in the form of a tax credit from the government or what? Also, for a couple making just a few dollars over the upper limit of $19,700, if their bills added up to $6,000, would it be a combined $6,000 or must each qualify at the maximum? In either case, if they were making $19,800 a year, they would get to live the golden years of retirement on only $13,800 a year or less, depending on what exactly he means. He’s not to clear on this.

How about what he wants to charge seniors for their Medicare premiums and prescriptions? Well, being a nasty little greed head, er, that is, being a Republican, he would allow private health insurance companies to screw them however they could get away with. In other words, the cost for Medicare would be determined, not by the government, but by the insurance companies. There goes a whole lot more of that $13,800 we spoke of in the last paragraph.

Speaking of Medicare, seniors would be given the choice of remaining with Medicare at the same level of coverage (at least for the year that the system is begun) or enrolling in an insurance program that offers only basic coverage. If the senior needs more than just that basic coverage, they can pay more to get more (bye bye even more of that $13,800).

His plan also offers the option that, if they’re not happy with one plan, they can just choose another. What isn’t explained, of course, is what these seniors will do when the insurance companies start dropping them from their coverage because they actually have the nerve to get sick? This is happening with sad regularity now and guess how often it will happen when the insurance industry suddenly have the elderly under their collective thumb? Oh, boy! Oh, boy! We’re eating Alpo tonight!!!!!!

Now, for the part that is strictly a wet dream for the insurance industry. Bush claims that, by removing the government bureaucRATS from the system, somehow insurance companies will be more willing to offer coverage of new medical technologies. Just out of curiosity, what part of the federal government would that be?

Finally, he offers what a rational Republican (God! But I do so love oxymorons!) would consider the kiss of death to his whole plan when he states that the GOVERNMENT will approve all new policies to “ensure that the proper benefits are offered.” To quote some very important words that I’ve heard over and over in other realms, “We’re from the government and we’re here to help!” Yeah, right. The only question about this entire scheme hasn’t to do with its provisions because we all know that he won’t remember any of it the day after the election but, rather, which collective pocket does the insurance industry keep his soul in?

For family coverage and nursing home insurance, he uses the familiar dodge of offering tax credits for only the first $2,000 (for family health insurance) and an undetermined amount for long term nursing home care. Now, let’s get real for a moment and wonder just how much coverage a family of, say, four would $2,000 a year buy? That’s all of $42 per month per member. Considering an office visit can run around $25 at a minimum, how long will that $2,000 go if one or more of the family becomes injured or ill? Not a good deal, gentle readers, but one that looks good until you do the math. Same goes for the long term nursing home care. How long would the insurance industry take before they proclaimed that, what, maybe three months was as long as they would cover? Maybe at that point, the industry would suddenly through their considerable weight behind an involuntary euthanasia requirement for those who lasted longer than the company was willing to pay.

For those of us making enough to be above the poverty level, Tumbleweed again would make us rely on the kindness of corporate strangers in that he would give a tax credit for families making $60,000 a year ($45,000 for singles). He would offer the states the “flexibility” to expand coverage under the CHIP program, meaning as well the flexibility to emulate Tumbleweed’s attempts to keep as many as possible off the program whenever other, more pressing needs are discovered, like another tax cut for his rich buddies.

There’s a whole lot more to his “promises” but I’ll let you go wade through them if you like. ( 5 ) There is little in it that isn’t a huge sweetheart deal to his wealthy backers and corporate owners and nothing that, on some level, hasn’t already been tried and been found wanting by reasonable, intelligent people.

Now, gentle readers, it’s at this point that I’m finding it hard to see any reason whatsoever to go on any further. Tumbleweed would be a President who would happily allow American children to die directly due to their parent’s financial or vocational or educational inability to access any form of professional health care. You can be very certain, though, that he will whine and carry on about how he “plans” to do better if he’s elected but you and I both know the truth. A vote for Tumbleweed is a truly wasted vote, particularly for those of us who retain the ability to differentiate a real promise from a bumper sticker lie. The other 17% or 18% of those eligible to vote will vote for Tumbleweed without another thought (or a first one, for that matter).

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Copyright 9/21/00