Next up is Al Gore. Again, we only have his record of underling to Clinton but, again, I think that will suffice since we’ll see if he spoke out on any health related issues that came to anything during the last eight years. Then, we’ll look at what he promises to do in terms of a national health care policy. Between the two, I think we’ll get a fairly clear picture.
Let’s begin with one of the most depressing numbers I’ve ever reported and I’ve reported an awful lot.
Of all of the world’s 191 industrialized nations, the one with the highest total health care costs? The good old US of A.
Of all of the world’s 191 industrialized nations, the rank of the good old US of A in the health of its citizens?
Want a bit of an explanation? Okay, in the good old US of A, the top 10%, in terms of wealth, are the healthiest in the world. The middle 90 - 95 % are at or below the average for those 191 industrialized nations. Naturally, gentle readers, this horrendous ranking is achieved by the tragic and disheartening fact that the bottom 5-10% of Americans, in terms of wealth, are made up of Native Americans living on reservations, the inner city poor, rural blacks, single mothers and their children and people in the Appalachians, have health conditions that are as bad or worse than those found in sub-Saharan Africa. ( 1 )
Okay, folks. This isn’t good news, at all. In fact, it would rate and “F” for initiative and an “F” for fairness on my scale. What it shows is just more of the same old same old garbage of the rich are treated better than the rest of us even when it comes to health care. So, how could we do better for all of our citizens rather than just for those who can afford it? Well, I have my opinions, as I’m certain do you, but what will Al Gore do if given the Oval Office?
Well, for the seniors in America, for those whose income falls under $12,000 for singles and $14,000 for couples, the government would cover all drug costs. For all other seniors, they would have their perscriptioons covered for half the costs up to $5,000. At that point, all costs for drugs will be out of pocket until the senior has paid $4,000 out of pocket for the year, at which time the government would pick up 100% of all drug costs. (I know that might be difficult to understand so, basically, for the first $5,000 in drug expenses, the senior pays $2,500. Once they then have spent an additional $1,500 out of pocket, the government steps in and covers the costs 100%. Got that?)
Nevertheless, the reality is that a senior whose income falls just above the limit, say $13,000 a year, if their health is deteriorating and their drug costs amount to even just $5,000, their yearly income falls to just $10,500 (half of the first $5,000 = $2,500). If their costs soar to $6,000 for drugs (not unheard of for far too many seniors), then they would be left with only $9,500 to live on (half of the first $5,000 plus the full cost of the next $1,000 = $3,500). This won’t really offer much in the way of relaxation for those wonderful “Golden Years”, now will it?
How much will these benefits cost if the senior is enrolled in Medicare? It will cost $25 per month the first year (another $300 a year going out of pocket for the senior) and will increase to $44 per month in 2008 (or another $528 a year out of pocket).
In so far as the disastrous costs of drugs in America, he proposes to, somehow (he doesn’t say exactly how), promote more “competition” between drug corporations. His example of the absolute evil way that drugs are dispensed concerns the drug Lodine, which for humans costs $108 a month but the exact same drug costs only $37.80 when perscribed for a dog. He rants on about how the majority of new drugs are formulated based on research funded nearly completely by taxpayer dollars and how his call for “competition” will magically lower those costs to the patients.
Personally, I need something a bit more concrete that will show how our tax dollars will be returned along with some portion of the huge profits that the industry sucks up every year before I’ll fall ofr another “competition” theory.
He says that he wants to found a “Health Care Trust Fund” that will eventually allow every American to belong to Medicare at a reasonable cost. He also states that he will “Place Medicare in a ‘Lock Box’”.
Now, correct me if I’m a bit mistaken but wasn’t this idea exactly the same one that President Roosevelt planned for Social Security but was shot dowm by Republicans who complained that they were refusing to have all those billions locked away and out of their reach? (Want to hear the whole story?) Would the clowns that are Congress today be any more responsible with leaving those funds alone or would the greed heads from both sides of the aisle immediately start calling for a tax cut to “return the money to its rightful owners!” Sound vaguely familiar? What chance does a basically intelligent idea have of being passed in Congress? What is the number just below zero?
Gore goes on and on, promising loads of wonderful policies but with one enormous overall problem. Everything he and Bush propose are based on the hope and prayer that the economy not only continues to graow at this insane rate but will actually show and increase in the growth rate, resulting in trillions of dollars in some fantasy “surplus”. With both candidates promising to cut taxes, as well, do you believe for an instance that any of this can be funded beyond th enext few years? When the federal revenues come crashing back to earth and we find that we can no longer afford these benefits unless we raise taxes or cut the programs drastically, do you, for even an instant, believe that the owners of your government (who already enjoy the very best health care on earth) will allow their servants to raise their taxes or cut their corporate welfare? All that will; leave will be cutting the benefits over and over until we’re right back with the same discriminatory distribution of the nation’s health care access.
To be fair, Gore offers some programs that would make a difference between now and when they’re budget is cut. He wants to offer coverage for mental illness and to treat it like any other illness. He wants to double the nation’s investment in cancer research and begin programs to detect and treat various cancers earlier, when the success rate for a cute is far higher. He wants to offer women better access to breast cancer research and funding for contraceptives. He wants to proect the privacy of medical records and information determined by gentic testing.
All of this is good and right, of that there is no doubt. What is constantly in doubt, of course, is will his owners allow him to enact these ideas into law if it interferes with their ability to make the maximum amount of profits with the least expenditure possible? Personally, I really, really doubt if there is any way at all for him to get around those who hold his leash.
Back in 1992/1993, if you’ll recall, Gore’s boss tried to formulate a health care system that would cover all Americans equally. The costs would be borne equally, as well, by creating a health care system that was based on a progressive tax, the same as the nation’s income taxes are figured. That system, while there were, indeed, many faults and shortcomings to it, was never openly debated on the terms expected in a democracy. Instead, the rabid right bent to their owner’s demands and produced some truly insipid commercials with actors pretending to be real people and mouthing the words of the “We hate Clinton because he took away or playtoys in the Oval Office”. Clinton, being the complete coward, politically, that he is turned tail immediately and withdrew the proposal and never came close to offering an intelligent, progressive policy during the remainder of his two terms.
The question we have to ask ourselves when comparing Gore’s policies to our real needs are these;
First, is a step by step policy, in which only children are covered, at first, acceptable? Granted, covering every child over the course of the next eight years is a commendable goal but what happens to the parents during this time. It may be wonderful that a child has access to medical care but what if a parent finds themselves facing a terminal illness or is disabled by an accident? Where will the money come to support and feed and clothe and educate the children of these unfortunate Americans? Can we really afford to make adults wait until the next decade before we finally accept our responibility as Americans and make certain that health care is available to all?
Secondly, isn’t a national health care policy actually a Constitutional issue? Doesn’t that come under the Preface to the Constitution’s:
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America"?
Finally, should Gore be elected and have success passing these policies into law, how can it be guaranteed that they will not be scrapped the moment that the wealthy and corporate america decide they don’t want to pay their fair share of the costs of living in a free society and begin another propaganda campaign that will steer those idiot box addicts into doing as they’re told, too? You and I both know that whoever controls the media controls the minds of those who haven’t a passing interest in reality since it might interfere with the next episode of "Survivor" or the "WFW" of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" or some other example of how far we have fallen as a nation, intellectually.
Personally, I find some small pluses in what Gore offers as a Democrat. At least in his words, he appears to be someone who could make life in America just a bit more bearable for all, at least sometime in the next decade or so. The problem is, of course, can he be trusted to stand firm in that resolve and will he face down his owners in order to make this nation one in which the people have rights that always supercede corporations?
I don’t believe he can. Do you? ( 2, 3, 4 )
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