Monday, June 29, 2009

All partisan groups agree that the American $2.5 trillion healthcare system is broken. Why not have everyone agree to agree that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Then let's really roll up our sleeves, put the interest of the patient first, dissect the components, and reclaim a healthy healthcare system. Allow the insurance companies to compete against the Single Payer Healthcare Program. Won't that be a change we could believe in, wink, wink?

However, according to the U.S. Institute of Medicine, the government projects the nation will spend $2.5 to $3 trillion on health care costs this year, compared to $912 billion in 1993. Between 1999 and 2008, the average annual employee premium contribution for family coverage rose from $1,543 to $3,354, the panel said. (Tue Feb 24, 2009). You ask why! Several elements are going on at the same time:

The pharmaceutical companies are upping their costs for simple medications into the stratosphere. So if you require more than one medicine, get ready to mortgage the family heirlooms or reacquaint yourself to friends in Mexico and Canada, where the Pharma is a lot less expensive.

Demographically, the baby boomers are moving through the life cycle snake; ever since WWII we have caused a shift in the economy, education and every other industry we move through because there are so many of us born during the same time period being that need to be accommodated.

The insurance companies are doubling and tripling their premiums because their increasing overhead is 1/3 more than what it used to be. Depending on whom you talk to, they are just plain old greedy!

Preventive medicine is not practiced as it should be in our society, so American takes larger risks, needs major lifestyle changes, and has more accidents.
Litigation is rising because of bad medicine and poor medical practices. Ask a doctor to show you their premiums.

There aren't enough doctors and nurses to go around to care for the seniors and infirm.
And I could go on and on and on but one element, greed is causing lot of headaches, sleepless nights and 75% of the current bankruptcies.

I believe my role in all of this is to educate. I say it constantly, know your opportunities and then make the decision, but you have to go out there and learn, read, discuss and find the knowledge.
I strongly agree, that those that can afford more healthcare privilege, should be allowed to pay for it. Those doctors who are enjoying the high life with the high-income privilege should allow that privilege and billing. This is still a free country, right?

Those that like the insurance that they are currently receiving should be allowed to continue that policy, providing the employers are willing to continue paying the shared costs.
In the meantime, the rest of us, believed to be 80% of the population, who can't afford the "bankruptcy challenge", set up a pool to keep costs down and extend the Medicare/MediCal program. Let's get serious and let's put a stop to the fear mongering being used by the insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

Obama originally told us, if he had it to do all over again, he'd put single payer, also known as universal healthcare reform in place of the chaos we currently have. Obama did accept, it is believed, $41 million dollars from insurance companies. So is he in debt to these folks? You bet he is. There is no mystery, as Obama is informed on the issues, he has changed his position and is leaning to find balance in the debate. But some members of the PDA Progressive Democrats of America believe he should use his popularity capitol and make single payer his mandate.
I would assume anyone in the political profession who is honest may find that campaign promises will get mired in the details, discovery, and often financial reality. Once in office, candidates may need to change promises as one grows to understand, meet, study and become more educated on the policies. Does he want to run for another term? Obama has not said. Will he need the funding from the insurance companies? You do the math. What makes Obama different? The transparency. Is it Single Payer Healthcare? NO! Let me say it again, it is not Single Payer Healthcare! It is a compromise.

He is admitting (and everyone is beating him up on this one) that he is changing course and growing in his understanding of what he "can't immediately change". Something we never heard from the Bush Administration, however, opposition, jealousy, vengeance of people in the party, as well as the opposing party, who are notorious for playing unfair in the political sandbox, are hammering Obama. Okay, the Republicans lost this presidential round, but it doesn't mean they'll be on the "Island of Lost" forever. They'll get their new marching orders, once they determine who the next 60+ male with a wide midriff, receding hairline, angry, carnivore, eye bucking, sneering, snarling fear mongering chauvinist anointed party leader will be. And I am not excusing Michael, just because he happens to be a Black Man. Come on Colin Powell, give up the ghost, and join Arlen Spector's "out of the dark" progressive resurrection. They aren't going to appreciate you. Oops, I deterred.

I can see a single payer healthcare reform occurring in the response to recalcitrant insurance industry from reading everything I can find at this time, I'd recommend any of the following:

1.) Since paying back educational loans is one of the screaming reasons that medical doctors and medical staffers claim they are in need of higher salaries, in addition to the mental sweat, gruesome hours of study, discipline and practice (which are priceless), why not allow subsidies for their medical education. This would reduce new medical staffers educational debt, encourage more individuals to go into the profession (nurses are needed everywhere all the time) and decrease the ratio of patients to care needed in the United States. And while they are at it, I have school loans too that need to be paid. Subsidize education period. I wouldn't mind working three years at any institution if it would defray four years of graduate school loans and I don't mean debtor prison.

2.) Demand a review panel on the legions of malpractice insurance, determine where the holes are in the system, publicize and education the public, then immediately close those holes. The panel should consist of highly knowledgeable bipartisan medical, legal and medical policy experts. Maybe they can solicit the help of former Senator John Edwards since he has been successful in medical litigation. Create a bipartisan medical arbitration board period. Oh, I know I am pissing off some attorneys here, but let's set some limits on the dollar amounts, however, the more egregious the medical crime the greater the reward. That's only fair. Cut the frivolous crap. Yes, the sophisticated crap.

3.) Review the amount of malpractice insurance that practicing physicians have to pay to keep the doors open, have a medical group that reviews these malpractice actions, and release physicians from their oaths who poorly practice medicine. Through these three items, we just might find a way to decrease healthcare and medical costs considerably. Then from JoeJoe's playbook on the American Perspective Blog Site:
Photo Credit: American Prospective

4) Require businesses and other employers to either cover their employees or help finance their health insurance. IF they can't finance health costs for their employees, then allow the employees to participate in a national pool and base the fee on companies comparable to the employees premium cost. Make the companies bid for portions of this pool.

5) Make insurance affordable by creating new tax credits, expanding Medicaid and SCHIP, reforming insurance laws, and taking innovative steps to contain health care costs. Those that chose not to go in would be penalized as they do auto insurance.

6) Create regional "Health Care Markets" to let every American share the bargaining power to purchase an affordable, high-quality health plan, increase choices among insurance plans, and cut % costs for businesses offering insurance. But hold everyone to their commitment. I guess you would need medical police.

7) Make it a mandate that all Americans have health insurance and make allowances for those who make less than $7,000 a year. Yep, I guess I'm pissing off the republicans about now, they hate to be their brother's keepers, why don't their mother's teach this very important Christian lesson, I guess they missed this day in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School.

8) Encourage a Federal Health Benefit Program that IS a euphemism for Single Payer, universal healthcare, the Hillary Clinton Plan, the John Conyer's Plan, the California Mark Leno Plan . . . drum roll please . . . done done done done DOOOOONE!

And I understand that this all will take gradual steps to get there. I believe this is where Obama is. Gradually change the system this way so no one is left out of the loop and this will forewarn greedy insurance agents to get their greed in check, find another business profession and realize, health is a human right and it is no longer for sale!
On June 27th, 2009. There were two huge community discussions rippling with questions and answers:

The first Townhall meeting was at 10am at the Venice Peace Center in Justice and the Arts, 2210 Lincoln Blvd. (on the corner of Victoria), Venice, CA and the second townhall meeting at 3:00PM The State Building in Van Nuys 6150 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91401. Headlining the event is:

*Dr. Jo Olson: Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at USC, Full time practice in Adolescent Medicine at Children's Hospital LA. A grassroots activist, her primary focus is implementation of a single payer healthcare program for all Californians. Past Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party & 42nd AD delegate

*Steve Tarzynski M.D., M.P.H.: Practicing pediatrician. Long time health care reform activist. Board member of California Physicians Alliance (CaPA) the state affiliate of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), a national organization of 16,000+ physicians advocating for a single payer solution.

*Don Schroeder: Emmy award writer, producer, director of the PBS documentary "No Greater Love" on the miracle of organ donations. Will present "California One Care: Full Care, For All, For Less,": Why healthcare system is in crisis and the comprehensive health care system that will save families, businesses government money. Co-founder, SFV chapter of Health Care for All California. Co-Chair of the California One-Care Campaign.

These meetings were designed to draw bipartisan supporting groups emerging in one location to express their positions. We only hope everyone is pretty civil. They even invited AARP. Don't lose the opportunity to understand universal healthcare, single payer healthcare, employee assisted healthcare, insurance option healthcare and all the differences, similarities and confusion.

Confusion you ask? As a girlfriend who is a strong healthcare advocate says:

"Quality and Affordable" are two words that are being thrown around to confuse us. Those two words mean NOTHING and stand only for rejection of any fundamental change, and yet they are propagating wildly in the mass media, driven by slick diversionary ads, and perhaps you have unknowingly and unconsciously even uttered them yourself already. Nobody can "afford" NOT to have health care, regardless of the cost, up to their entire net worth. Believe that there are "quality" doctors and nurses, but note our largest problem is getting "heartless" insurance mega corporations to authorize our quality doctors to treat us. Mortal sworn enemies of real health care reform got together and concocted a deceptive marketing campaign, as they saw that the compelling majority of the American people favored and were pressing for REAL change. They literally sat down in a room to conspire on what marketing words they could use to SELL their status quo system of gouging us as something new and different. The enemies of real change have been trying to brand single payer health care with supposedly negative coined expressions like "socialized medicine", while at the same time branding their own fake reform initiative with those OTHER words (the Q word and the A word), which we must ALL agree to never utter again.

Do you get it? Do you really get it? It is the marketing campaign of our policy change enemies, and for us to prevail, the Q word and the A word must be surgically excised entirely from our own discourse and replaced with the "economical and efficient" mental transplant. Start looking for "efficient" and "economical".

A second healthcare advocate sent me these words:

It is your right as an American citizen to know the healthcare options. It is your health services that are on the table, and to eventually advocate with others who share your point of view. See more at:

A third healthcare advocate suggested these words:

You can tell the Obama people that this is where his campaign promise has got to stick! We want Single Payer and anything short of that is a compromise. We didn't compromise on McCain and Hillary and we won't compromise because he is willing to. We need to bring it to him that Single Payer can't be a compromise and stop calling it as one PDA friend described it: "Universal coverage is not universal care", this is a MISNOMER; we want "H.R.676".
Yes, there is the option to do nothing and allow others to make decisions for you. However, don't accuse others, when you become less accountable and less responsible for actions taken on your behalf and without your permission. The time for complacency is over. An opportunity exists to make changes on what is agreed to be a broken American healthcare system. So now you have it, and I haven't even factored in the Republican


I can only imagine the wretching outcry and the confused anguish in hearing over 100 little voices, ranging from one to five years old, screaming out for help as they are engulfed in a grease fire. Imagine being 4 years old and the windows are too high to reach up, the doors padlocked closed, and the front door locked. You have no idea where your teacher is. Your classmates are all scurrying about running in circles or the more frightened kids are squatting, huddled together frozen in absolute shock under a Playschool bridge. Your heart doubles its beat and you feel fear consuming you as it becomes more difficult to breathe and the plush yellow duck toy isn’t providing any comfort. All you can do is scream out for your mother. But she can’t hear you.

I can only imagine being a parent, getting the phone call at work or on the home phone, running to your car or asking a coworker to drive you to the scene, in any case you can’t get there fast enough. Later you hear that some parents were able to retrieve their youngsters after one man suddenly jumped into his Chevy truck. He rammed the side of the building three times, not anticipating his own injuries or exhaustion, before a section of the building finally gave way, releasing several bricks. Following him, two other parents gun their cars in reverse straight into the fiery building also. The third truck rams open a hole wide enough for several children to scamper out to the opening arms of panic stricken relatives and community members. Imagine seeing the head of your child as he or she escapes from the visible black smoke and the gnawing smell of oil and burning wood. Two children who manage to wonder aimlessly, collapse to the ground as soon as they inhale oxygen; it is more than their little bodies can handle. Screams are echoing in your head, your heart pumps faster, and everything around you seems to go into slow motion as you observe the ambulances, onlookers and frantic parents screaming at the top of their lungs. Your arms almost smothering your youngster. You are both crying from relief.

As you walk away, your feet barely touching the ground you notice the local police running, waving at one another towards the building. Some officers stop to console the crying parents and then out of nowhere large military trucks unload heavily attired military. That’s right, this is the land where gangs play hard ball and anyone can be taken prisoner. But was there someone’s child in the building who is at odds with the gangs? Is the business next door to the day care center owned by someone who hasn’t paid their protection? Is this just a simple mistake of someone with a blow torch who accidently ignited some flammable object in the auto repair shop?

I can imagine seeing a woman fainting from the unbelievable inner pain of such a disaster loss as reported by TV Azteca. She is being fanned, while a woman runs to a nearby leaking faucet, tears from her own blouse and runs back to bring the woman comfort while another woman cuddles her body. But this is what I read, heard and saw this morning while checking “the news”. You continue reading, hearing and seeing the video describing the 31, now 35, and finally 41 tiny lives lost. 27 are on the critical list and there are still questions regarding scrapes and burns on possibly 100 more. It is assumed that there were 142 children registered at this location. One child is burned so badly that they are risking bringing him to Shriner’s hospital in Sacramento. The number of transfers will increase as children are prepped for the risky air travel to a Guadalajara hospital.

But even the onlooker, who has never been in a fire before, who has never had children, who doesn’t live in the neighborhood, who doesn’t know any of the victims can share the human pain and wonderment of whether or not all the children made it out. Who was in charge of this center? What are the building requirements for an educational center for children in Mexico? Where were the teachers? With this many children, why don’t they have floor monitors? Were there any administrators on the site, and if so, why didn’t they get the children out immediately? Had the children ever had a fire drill? Why was the front door locked at all? Why would children be caged in a brick building where they couldn’t look out? They say this was a working class neighborhood. Were children allowed to take phones? My nieces and nephews carried phones when they were young, for the “just in case” call. How does Mexico answer this frantic and horrible situation at a state run daycare center?
They say the way that a nation treats its youngest and weakest is a strong reflection on their overall attitude towards its people. Are people dispensable in Mexico? The CNN videos brought tears to my eyes and made me think of a long time friend who is teaching in Seoul, Korea. I wondered what kind of building they teach in. Are the windows so high that children can’t peer out? I don’t know about you, but I can remember being one of those dreamy kids that wondered how much longer I’d have to sit in this room and watch this teacher , because by then I know I wasn’t listening to a word he or she were saying. The clock wasn’t moving fast enough; Many times I’d try to count the dots in the white tiled ceiling and for some reason every time I would lay back in the seat to lift my pencil in order to keep the rows straight in the counting and the teacher would inevitably call on me. But that was OK because it seemed like I already knew the answer, which was why I was as frustrated as the teacher in my being in the “required” class. I enjoyed school but I never liked the regimentation part. Why do we have to stand in a straight line? What was wrong with a crooked one? Why did I have to pay attention to the middle part of the back of Kathy red hair. But the building was never on fire and I never had to experience this horrific situation.
SATURDAY, you hear that there is a mass grave being dug for six victims of Friday’s fire. The town 200 miles south of the United States border is in mourning according to varying CNN reports. We learn that some children were taken to ‘Ciudad Obregon’. And two more to Shriner Hospital’s Burn Center in Sacramento. We learn the fire was hot enough to cause the ceiling to collapse. Several more children are reported to have died from the toxic fumes in the ventilation system. CNN reports that “President Felipe Calderon traveled to Hermosillo on Saturday. The president arrived with Interior Secretary Fernando Gomez Mont and Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova to get first-hand updates from doctors and investigators, the state news agency Notimex reported.”

The cause of the fire is still “unknown”. Meantime, Calderon has requested the attorney general to investigate the fire. We learn that six adults were also in the building. There is no mention of their condition either.

Part of this is a composite of the various news releases and the quotes are from the various sources that gave me the idea of pulling these thoughts together.

Sincerely, I wish the parents and family members my deepest prayers and my heart goes out to them for having to experience such a tragedy and the loss of their little ones.

MINERVA LEAH WILLIAMS, is a freelance writer who resides in Santa Clarita Valley. As an avid reader her breath was taken away just reading the accounts of this story.