As I pointed out back on May 29, 2007, Black bloggers need to take a position and join the fight for a significantly stronger government role in assuring health care for all Americans, because this is one of the most important issues of our time, particularly for Blacks, whose infant mortality rate in the US South is almost three times the overall rate in Cuba.
President Barack Obama is fighting for a "public option" health care alternative, where those who are not happy with their current health insurance options or simply cannot find any health insurance will be able to rely on the Government plan. (I am one of those people. When last I discussed health care with a state agency distributing Federal Government health care funds, the state agency me that I was ineligible because my income exceeded the cap by fifteen dollars or so.)
And so, I remain without health insurance in the United States, from the Government or from anyone else.
Thank goodness I've moved to Brazil, where everyone is provided health care at federally-sponsored clinics operated by local governments and funded by federal monies, and everyone is eligible, regardless of their income. Although this will seem incredible to people in the United States, Brazilian government-sponsored health clinics NEVER ask about a patient's ability to pay and never accept any payment. It's illegal to do so.
Obama is promising and planning to implement a "public option" medical insurance plan that everyone can afford, to compete with private insurers who often deny coverage or offer it only at astronomical rates.
Robert Reich, who was Secretary of Labor under the Clinton Administration but supported Obama over Hillary last year, says Obama faces a myriad of forces arrayed against his health care plan:
I hope posting this blog will encourage others to join the fight for health care that Americans can afford here, and not just in Brazil.
The big guns are out and they're firing. All major lobbying firms in Washington -- many of them brimming with ex-members of Congress -- are now crawling all over the Hill. Lots of money is on the table. AMA's political action committee has contributed $9.8 million to congressional candidates since 2000, and its lobbying arm is one of the most formidable on the Hill.
Meanwhile, Big Insurance and Big Pharma are increasing their firepower. The five largest private insurers and their trade group America's Health Insurance Plans spent a total of $6.4 million on lobbying in the first quarter of this year, up more than $1 million from the first quarter last year, and are spending even more now. United Health Group spent $1.5 million in the first quarter, up 34 percent from the $1.1 million it spent in the first quarter last year.
Aetna spent $809,793 between January and the end of March, up 41 percent from last year. Pfizer, the world's biggest drugmaker, spent more than $6.1 million on lobbying between January and March, more than double what it spent last year. It also spent nearly $3.3 million lobbying in the fourth quarter of 2008. Every one of them is upping their spending.
Some congressional Democrats are willing and able to stand up to this barrage. Many are not. They need cover from the White House.
The President can't do this alone. You must weigh in and get everyone you know to weigh in, too. Bombard your senators and representatives. Organize and mobilize others. And let the White House know how strongly you feel. This is one of those battles that define a presidency. But more importantly, it's one of those battles that define the state of American democracy. Robert Reich at Salon.Com