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6/24/2009 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson

There’s lots of talk about health care reform. Something will happen because our present course is simply unsustainable with BlueCross BlueShield premiums running about $1,000 per month for a family. The premiums will probably increase 5 percent a year or more every year for the foreseeable future. It won’t be long before employers and government will simply not be able to keep up with the premiums.

The increasing cost of health care is a major cost for federal, state and local governments. For instance Harper’s magazine estimates the number of people in the US whose health care is paid for by taxes is 83,000,000!

President Obama has said that if we do not get a handle on health care costs, there is no possibility of ever balancing the federal budget.

Coupled with that are the millions of people who cannot afford insurance and don’t have any. Ours is the only industrialized nation in the world which allows this situation to fester.

As a letter to the editor in The Forum at Fargo on June 19 by Jessica Arneson put it:

"Health care should not be a privilege. We deem it appropriate that our state employees, employed by us, as well as our prisoners, be provided with health care. Why then, should our hard-working, law-abiding citizens not be? What about America’s responsibility to her people? America has invested in the education of her people by providing schooling for all children, as well as providing protection to all through the armed forces, police, and firefighters. We are willing to pool our resources in order to provide safety and education for each other, is health care any less detrimental?

"I recognize the American spirit of idealism, that if each person takes care of himself there would be no issue. You take care of you, and I’ll take care of me, right? Wrong. While it is suitable to hold someone accountable for their actions when they had access to help and didn’t use it, it is an atrocity to hold someone accountable to a situation that was a repercussion of inaccessible, yet abundant, resources. There is no guarantee that all people will be healthy and stable, but available health care and affordable prescriptions are sure to make it more likely."

Obama’s plan will keep insurance companies in the mix with hopes that conservatives will support the plan. When it comes right down to it, I doubt they’ll support the plan. Conservatives like things just as they are.

But there are enough Democrats who might vote for the plan. There might be 60 votes in the Senate to pass a plan, but if it passes, it won’t be effective.

Without removing insurance company profits and insurance company bureaucratic paperwork from the health care picture there is no way to wring enough savings out of the system to even begin to cover costs.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The government-run health care system of Canada is superior to our system. I’ve never met a Canadian who would be willing to trade systems.

But no system is perfect and there is some rationing and some delay in treatment in Canada that we don’t have in our system. In Canada everyone is covered and Canadians actually live longer than Americans. Their health system is working for them.

Today we have rationing of health care in the US. If you have the money to purchase insurance you’re covered. Those who don’t have the money or the insurance have to undergo rationing of medical services.

This is going to be a battle. Conservatives think government can’t do anything right and getting the government into medical care is a mistake. You’re going to hear that story over and over, again and again.

But government is already in the health care business. It’s in Medicare, a pretty good system, which is going to go broke if something isn’t done. The federal government runs the military health care system — which is pretty good, although there are some failings. It runs the Indian Health Service — which has lots of problems.

But the private sector has its failings, too. I could dig up dozens of horror stories about health care under our system and dozens of stories about health insurance companies running roughshod over their policyholders.

Something simply has to be done! We cannot allow the conservatives to continue to say "no" to health care reform. Obama’s plan is not the answer, but at least it’s a beginning.


Pinocchio, Snow White and Superman are out for a stroll in town one day. As they walked, they come across a sign: "Beauty contest for the most beautiful woman in the world."

"I’m entering!" said Snow White. After half an hour she comes out and they ask her, "Well, how’d ya do?"

"First place!" said Snow White.

They continue walking and they see a sign: "Contest for the strongest man in the world."

"I’m entering," says Superman. After half an hour, he returns and they ask him, "How did you make out?"

"First place," answers Superman. "Did you ever doubt?"

They continue walking when they see a sign: "Contest! Who is the greatest liar in the world?" Pinocchio enters.

After half an hour he returns with tears in his eyes. "What happened?" they asked.

"Who’s this Dick Cheney?" asked Pinocchio.


More Burma-Shave ditties:

Drinking drivers —

Nothing worse

They put the quart

Before the hearse



Men with whiskers

‘Neath their noses

Oughta have to kiss

Like eskimoses



Said farmer Brown

Who’s bald on top

Wish I could

Rotate the crop



Don’t try passing

On a slope

Unless you have

A periscope



Passing cars

When you can’t see

May get you a glimpse

Of eternity



Don’t leave safety

To mere chance

That’s why belts

Are sold with pants



At a quiz

Pa ain’t No whiz

But he knows how

To keep Ma his




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