Bisbee: Take back our government

August 07, 2019

Time Argus

It has been very interesting to hear all the political pundits and news anchors put their particular spin on the recent Democratic debates.

However, as a long-time follower of these events, it seemed that many of the very pointed questions about health care reform were directed at Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren’s stands on a pure, enhanced Medicare for All.
Could this have anything to do with who pays for the airwaves? We are told that recent surveys of voters say that most voters want Medicare for All for all who want it while private health insurance policies for those who like their plans should be kept in place, thus giving all the participants something to argue about.

One pointed argument on Bill Maher’s show was that “Bernie couldn’t even make it work in his home state. It is too expensive.” And no one else on the show even contested these words which are patently untrue, as most Vermonters are well aware.

It was Gov. Peter Shumlin who decided not to carry the ball and try other ways of paying for the program under Act 48 that lost us all a chance to lead the nation on health care reform. There were many, many disappointed Vermonters, including myself, who realized that once again the hospitals and the health insurance industry had won by calling all the shots.
As a proud recipient of traditional Medicare, I do not have to worry the way younger folks do.

Has anyone looked into how much money the large health insurers, for profit or not for profit, are putting into defeating this idea? Unfortunately, many workers for large corporations do have wonderful benefits, particularly for their upper echelon employees while lower income workers are not as lucky.

Also, those who are self-employed and small businesses do not do very well, either. If individuals and families have never had to use their benefits, they may not know how bad the current non-system is and think they have wonderful coverage until a real crisis occurs.

We are the only industrialized country where families have to be dependent on fund raisers to help in real health crises.

As for having a two-tiered system of Medicare for those who want it and private insurance for those who don’t, what good will this do to reduce the huge CEO and administrative costs of private insurers? And some of the debaters were touting Medicare Advantage as a wonderful private plan.

I wonder how many of those supporting it actually know how it works and how expensive it is for elders and how restrictive it is for those who want to choose their own doctors? How will this help health care providers save time and money if they still have to deal with both a government run system whose current administrative costs run about 2% as opposed to several private insurers with different prices for procedures for each company and huge administrative costs to help save them from having to pay claims? Choice of providers is very important but do we really need choice of insurance coverage? Gold, silver and other tiers are great if you really have the where with all to choose.

For those at the bottom of the heap, most plans are not affordable anyhow. And, yes, both Warren and Sanders are espousing an Expanded Medicare for All, that is paid for by all according to their incomes by reforming our current tax system that is much more comprehensive.

As long as those with the big money stand in our way and refuse to pay for those less fortunate, we will not be able to serve the will of the people, I fear.
Like many fellow Americans, I was very disappointed when the president I voted for a few years back, Barack Obama, was forced to compromise with the large insurance companies who bought and paid for some of the U.S. senators and representatives in both parties to settle for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. This is not why most voters elected Obama. Until we can get the disgusting private and corporate money out of our election process, I guess we have to realize that we do not have a fair election process or truly representative government.

Under the current administration, the election process is getting even worse. Racial disparities, immigration and climate crises, gun violence and white supremacy are now tearing our country as well as the whole world apart, piece by piece.

Until the people are able to take back our government and tax the wealthy at a much higher rate than the middle class so that homeless and drug addicted folks can be given a fair shake, many of us do not see a very rosy future ahead for our planet.

Mary Alice Bisbee lives in Montpelier.