Kadner: We need Kirkcare for every American
By Phil Kadner firstname.lastname@example.org September 30, 2013 10:52PM
In this Nov. 1, 2010 photo, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., looks to a crowd of supporters during a campaign rally in Wheaton, Ill. A spokesperson for Sen. Mark Kirk says the Illinois Republican has suffered a stroke and has undergone surgery early Monday, Jan. 23 2012 to relieve swelling around his brain. The 51-year-old Kirk checked himself into Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois. He was later transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where tests showed that he had suffered a stroke. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
Updated: November 2, 2013 6:17AM
There’s nothing right or good about what’s going on now in Washington, D.C.
This congressional battle is about the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, but it’s actually much bigger than that. It’s really about the future of health care in America, democracy and, yes, entitlements.
Are ordinary people entitled to quality health care?
In 2008 and again in 2012, that was a key issue in our presidential races. Each time, President Barack Obama won. The Republicans, especially Tea Party Republicans, didn’t like that, and they’ve been doing their best to undermine him ever since.
Let me say right off, I don’t like Obamacare. I’ve probably stated that a half a dozen times in this space, but people don’t want to listen because I don’t hate Obama and I think every person in this country is entitled to good medical care.
I favor true universal health care, which is what they have in every other industrialized nation in the world. Obamacare isn’t that. It’s a hodgepodge of plans with no true funding source.
And it’s confusing as well. Most Americans don’t understand it, and that’s a very bad thing.
Nevertheless, it was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives and signed into law by the president and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
But because some people really don’t like Obamacare, they’re threatening to undermine our system of government, put the economy in a nosedive and promising to never give up the fight no matter how much damage that causes our country.
Yes, this is a real mess, folks.
Let me remind you why Americans decided they wanted national health insurance during the last two presidential elections.
Millions of Americans were losing their medical insurance, not only because of layoffs caused by the economic crisis but because employers were finding it too expensive.
Actually, some employers decided they didn’t have to offer health insurance to employees any more because so many people were happy to have jobs — even if those jobs didn’t include benefits such as health insurance.
In addition, Americans workers who still had medical coverage found their costs for it going up each year. The pay deductions got larger. The out-of-pocket costs increased. The cost of prescription drugs under the plans went from nothing, to $5, to $10 until some folks were paying the entire cost of a drug they needed because it wasn’t in the formulary of their health plan.
Not only that, a lot of health insurance companies were denying claims. Not because the employees weren’t covered but because they realized that by denying claims they could save money and increase their profits. And these companies were making billions of dollars.
Those profits weren’t improving health care. The money wasn’t being used to make our doctors better, improve hospitals or develop better medical devices. That money was going into the pockets of chief executives and stockholders.
It was good business. But not the best medical care.
Americans recognized all of that and said at the polls, “No more! We want something different.”
I don’t know if anyone outside of Washington wanted Obamacare. But it was a compromise — created in large part by the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical companies that didn’t want universal health care, which would have put some of them out of business and controlled skyrocketing health care costs.
But Obama was never in favor of true universal health insurance and said as much time and again, if anyone was listening.
Elected officials told me that the goal of this compromise plan was to create the idea of national health care so that down the line improvements could be made, more people would join and eventually it would become universal health care.
In the meantime, millions of people would be insured who were previously uninsured, insurance companies could no longer deny care to people who were seriously sick and there would no longer be lifetime limits on medical coverage if you got cancer.
And please go back and reread that last sentence to understand the problems with that great, old health care system people loved.
People who had chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma and cancer were often denied health insurance if they quit their jobs and started another because, you know, it was bad business for the insurers. Children who became seriously ill at a very young age, well, they reached the limits of their parents’ health insurance policies and that was that.
Is there any person who actually believes that’s the way things ought to be?
Several months ago, I called on U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) to reveal the cost of his medical bills — not because I wanted to delve into his private life but because I thought it was important for the American people to know the real cost of recovering from a major stroke and returning to productive life.
Kirk has yet to comply with my request. But I’m guessing his costs for medical care and rehabilitation were in the millions, and I’m betting most of that was picked up by his excellent medical coverage, provided by the taxpayers.
Hey, I don’t mind. I’m not complaining. I just figure we’re all entitled to know what we paid for that health care.
Kirk’s congressional brethren made a big deal out of welcoming him back to work, applauding him when he walked up the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
But for the rest of us working stiffs, well, some of those fellows in Congress wouldn’t mind seeing us crawl to work or watching spittle slide down our chins as someone spoons food into our mouths.
I have yet to hear anyone mention the world “entitlement” when it comes to Kirk’s health care or the cost to taxpayers. I say Kirkcare for everyone.