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Yes, A Public Option

Editorial for June 25, 2009

Who is benefiting from our current health care system? Certainly not the majority of those needing care.

The system is complex, expensive, and beyond easy deciphering. But the bottom line is, serious change is needed, because what we have isn't working that well for most of us.

So it's disheartening that some opponents in Congress -- a minority, to be sure, but with a loud voice and holding the filibuster hammer -- are trying to block any real changes to the system. They want to keep the system private, with no federal, public health insurance program to help people take care of themselves.

The status quo might be fine for the insurance companies and for the manufacturers of prescription drugs -- it seems like their profits are very well-insured indeed -- but those of us who do not have unlimited financial resources are dealing with this type of reality: Our insurance coverage is costing more and providing less as the years go by.

For just one example, where last year a deductible for medical expenses for an individual might have been $300, suddenly now it's $500. Where last year the deductible might have been $600 for a family, now it's $750. That's the trend, and it seems to be accelerating.

Next year, employers who offer health insurance coverage are projected to see a nine percent increase in insurance costs -- with their workers hit even worse.

Millions of American citizens do not have any health insurance, and millions more have inadequate coverage. What happens if they suffer a serious illness? They face financial ruin. So we tend to believe it when President Obama tells us that the current system is not sustainable.

Those benefiting from the current system will do whatever they can to stop any changes. We hear the scare tactics and the catch-phrases from opponents of real progress: "Government getting between you and your doctor," "long lines," "rationed care," etc. Apparently they believe the answer is to stick with an inefficient and wasteful system that is failing. Our people deserve better.

Citizens need to counter the propaganda. We need to inform our representatives in Congress about the frustrations we face while navigating the health care system, and about the financial costs we are dealing with.

Our government is not something we fear. The government is there to take care of our people, and in our system, we are the government. So yes, by all means, let's encourage Congress to approve a bill that provides for a "public option" for health care insurance.

JB

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