The Gathering Storm: A Health Care Update…




Why the Health Care Debate is Important to Us!!!

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Amid skyrocketing gas and food prices, as well as other economic challenges, there remains a gathering storm in rising health care costs.

Over the past two decades, the Democratic Party has succeeded at sounding the alarm for health care reform. Yet, they have failed to deliver an actual solution. Some of these failures can be tied to the strong opposition from the Republican Party. Backed by powerful insurance companies, the GOP has successfully thwarted all attempts at healthcare reform. The failure of health care reform has left many Americans exposed to the uncertainty that one serious medical surgery will totally bankrupt them and their families. Also, with little to no health insurance coverage, people cannot afford regular preventative care from primary care physicians. Therefore, city emergency rooms become the place where many Americans receive care for sicknesses that could have been addressed with regular checkups. This takes critical trauma care resources away from the people that actually need it.

The storm is gathering….

And everyday real Americans are suffering and dying because of it.

Is there really a health care crisis?
Yes! Medical costs are once again rising rapidly, which is forcing health care back into the political debate. Just last month Anthem Blue Cross in California announced premium increases of up to 39% for its members. Anthem blames the need for the increase on declining membership and soaring medical cost. This increase means that a family paying $350 a month for health care insurance would see their premiums rise to $500 a month for the same or less coverage. Anthem is just one of many insurance companies raising costs on its members yet enjoying huge profit margins on their bottom-line!

Beyond the day to day strain of health care premiums on American families, there are significant fiscal issues dragging on the U.S. economy due to heath care costs. The biggest issue is Medicare. More than 41 million Americans depend on Medicare to pay for doctors’ visits and hospital bills. However, we simply cannot afford to sustain it. Medicare’s massive costs will eventually result in huge tax increases on working Americans to cover it. The Medicare program is now projected to consume:

* 24 percent of all federal income taxes by 2019 and
* 51 percent of all federal income taxes by 2042.3

This problem is what drives the federal debt you hear so much about. If this gathering storm is not addressed its wind will blow away our future and that of our kids in the next few decades.

Who stands to lose the most?
Communities of color continue to face numerous challenges to making healthy lifestyle choices. Some of these challenges stem from a lack of health care coverage and less access to medical care facilities in their communities. This country needs to take serious action steps to remove these barriers so these populations have the same access as their counterparts. As we move forward in this national health debate, we simply cannot leave behind our most vulnerable and underserved communities.

There are real costs to the disparities in health care. For example, Hispanics are twice more likely to die from heart disease than whites; and black women die have diabetes twice as often as white women. Obesity, diabetes, stroke and cancer are among the conditions that plague people of color at disturbing proportions. In the coming years, as minorities continue to make up a larger percent of the U.S. population—so will the associated costs of health disparities.

Today, 40 percent of Latinos and 30 percent of African Americans don’t have health insurance. These much lower rates of health insurance compared to whites should be a call to action to all of us. Personally, I accept that people have a responsibility to make healthy life choices, but this country has a responsibility to address the causes of disparities in the health system so that healthy choices are available to all people, regardless of race, income or education.

What is President Obama doing about this?
The current legislation supported by President Obama and being debated across our televisions would offer one of the best opportunities in 50 years to erase persistent health disparities. This health reform bill would strengthen and expand programs promoting healthcare workforce diversity; improve prevention and wellness programs and require insurers to contract with essential community providers. Most importantly it will provide adequate grant funding for delivery of preventive health services in underserved communities. To ensure accountability, the bill would designate a new assistant secretary for Health Information whose job it would be to measure, study, and reduce health care disparities.


Here are President Obama’s Health Care Plan highlights:

Affordability: It makes insurance more affordable by providing the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history and reducing premium costs for tens of millions of families and small business owners.
Competition: It sets up a new competitive health insurance market giving tens of millions of Americans the exact same insurance choices that members of Congress will have.
Accountability: It brings greater accountability to health care by laying out commonsense rules of the road to keep premiums down and prevent insurance industry abuses and denial of care.
• It will finally end discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions.
• It will put the US federal budget and economy on a more stable path by reducing the deficit by $100 billion over the next ten years and about $1 trillion over the second decade!

What can I do to support healthcare reform?

As health care legislation moves towards final votes in Congress, our elected officials are carefully weighing their decision. Unfortunately, industry lobbyists are busy spreading misleading information because they want to maintain the status quo.

The most important thing you can do is contact your elected officials and remind them that you want meaningful, comprehensive health reform.

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