“It never ceases to amaze me, the amount of energy that can go into a project just to avoid doing the right thing… But follow the money and you’ll find why the politicians don’t like it.”
Jack Lohman, retired Wisconsin business owner and author.
The proven fact that single-payer comprehensive universal health care costs LESS than does our current method of administering and managing health care carries an important and unsettling implication. Those who oppose single-payer universal health care cannot claim they do so on the grounds that we can’t afford it. Politicians and media pundits who imply or state that are either inexcusably ignorant (and they should be tossed out of the responsible job they have), or they are simply lying (and should be imprisoned for fraud).
The unvarnished truth is that those who oppose single-payer universal are (for reasons of their own) willing to PAY MORE for a system that
1. Puts American business and workers at a competitive disadvantage,
2. Provides worsening health care outcomes for Americans,
3. Establishes a class-based health care system, rather than one based on medical treatment appropriate for the condition, and
4. Countenances so much unnecessary, untreated physical and emotional suffering and sorrow, and contributes to half of all personal bankruptcies.
The time has finally come. The Healthy Wisconsin initiative is an important reform that would provide universal health care to Wisconsin residents that is at least as good as the health care we now provide to elected officials. And it would cut the total cost of health care in Wisconsin well over one billion dollars annually.
Passed last summer by the state Senate, it is supported by 2 out of 3 likely voters, with only 1 out of 5 opposed. A wide majority of both Wisconsin Republicans and Wisconsin Democrats support this proposal, and 3 out of every 4 Independents also support it. A Lake Research Partners survey in June 2007 (margin of error reportedly under 5%) shows that most Wisconsin voters, by far, say rising health care cost is their top economic concern. Twice as many say rising health care cost is their top economic concern, as are worried about higher taxes. This priority crosses all demographic groups.
Yet the opportunity for humane, cost saving, universal health care may slip away. Why? Will some knee-jerk hidebound ideology or some hoary economic theory get in the way? Nah. The reason is money; lots of money; and not just anybody’s money, either.
The money that threatens to rule the day (and again pits the Wisconsin Assembly leaders against a measure strongly favored by a huge majority of Wisconsin citizens) is not the well over a billion dollars that the bill would save Wisconsin employers and citizens right off the bat. It’s not the reductions in personal suffering and catastrophic financial losses that would be prevented, either.
The tail that’s wagging the dog is the tens of millions of dollars in “campaign contributions” provided by certain corporate entities with a vested “special interest” in this grassroots effort to repair our health care system. Why do “merely” tens of millions of skid-greasing dollars outweigh the more than a billion per year in taxpayer savings? Simple, Bunkie. The billion plus dollars in health insurance costs it would save are just your dollars. The relatively smaller millions of dollars, however, go to the coffers of the major political parties and the election campaign war chests of “our” representatives in Madison who have been elected to make important decisions like this. According to just released studies by the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, tens of millions of dollars have been “contributed” since 1999 to campaigns for the state legislature and governor, by major special interest groups who either oppose or endorse health care reform in Wisconsin. Here’s how those “gifts” line up.
For every single dollar contributed to politicians by citizen and labor groups who support universal health care reform, seven dollars are contributed by powerful, well-heeled interests that oppose it. We all know that “special interests” (overwhelmingly corporations) provide lots of cash to the two major parties and to incumbent elected officials. Assembly Republicans have been blocking Healthy Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign revealed that two-thirds of all special interest contributions to the Assembly Republicans came from declared opponents of the real health care reform everyday people and employers and family farms need. Democratic Governor Doyle also has not supported the state Senate reform plan. Almost half of Doyle’s special interest money came from corporate opponents of single payer comprehensive universal health care.
What do you think of politicians who are provided comprehensive family health insurance coverage by taxpayers, and then turn around and tell lies about the problem, and the solution to our health care crisis, in order to keep the money rolling in from opponents of needed reform?
With the way things are done now, politicians fear special interests way more than they respect the people. That is an embarrassment and a shame on us and on democracy.
We have a clear choice. Some would rather actually pay more for a health care system that screens people out, and rations and prioritizes care based not on medical need but on fate and the ability to pay. Others prefer one that costs less, produces better health outcomes as well as a stronger economy, and provides comprehensive health care to all. Which side are YOU on?