Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Health Care Is A Human Right

Saturday afternoon, I sat down in a minister's office with four other people to provide input to Barack Obama's still-under-development health plan. The advantage of a small meeting soon became apparent: No long-winded one or two people can dominate, as often happens in a larger meeting (especially with Democrats). The Obama strategy must prefer it this way: Anyone who had commented on health care at change.gov was asked to assemble a meeting. Although provided with a cheat sheet and few questions as a basic structure, we were all able to get any points across. One person took notes, wrote up the results and circulated them for approval, then passed them along to the Obama team.

The attendees made for a fairly diverse lot, considering the small size: A retiree dependent on Medicare, a disabled veteran dependent on the VA, an uninsured activist, a minister, and me (self-insured). All had an impressive familiarity with the issue, down to some detail. And we are all impressed and hopeful that our opinion had actually been solicited.

Although we filled out forms and provided (excruciating, in some cases) detail, the group spoke loud and clear on two matters that the Obama paperwork avoided or danced around. First, we urged Obama, in all of his communications, to treat health care as a basic human right. This, combined with a general mistrust of private insurers, led us to prefer either an goverment-funded and administered plan, which doesn't appear to be on the table as yet.

Everyone there was open to persuasion regarding the argument that the most efficient approach is to take advantage of the existing infrastructure, i.e., employer-based health coverage administered by private insurers. However, none of us is convinced of that now, and all agreed that going in that direction requires much heavier regulation than is currently the case. IMHO, this would entail as big a battle with insurance companies as dumping them altogether. And none of us at the meeting will ever sign for the idea that the guarantee of a basic human right can be left up to employers and insurers.

It's actually beyond me why a business of any size would want the current system to continue. The costs are crippling and coverage has shrunk. By the Obama team's own estimate, one in five Americans with employer-based coverage have needs that exceed their benefits. That's 60 million people, which when added to the 50 million uninsured adds up to more than a third of the country left behind by their own system. To me, that's an infrastructure broken beyond repair...

U. S. Senate to turn away 71-year old Negro man as "unqualified"? That's what the Roland Burris story has started to sound like. I'm no big fan of Rod Blagojevich, but let's face it: He pulled a neat trick by appointing Burris to Obama's Senate seat. It's time to seat him and move on. Luckily, it sounds like cooler heads are prevailing...

Thanks to Robert Frost's Banjo, I've been exposed to a whole blogging culture dedicated to the love and promotion of something dear to Citizen K.'s middle-aged heart: Old movies. I grew up watching them on television with my father, and came to appreciate the talents of now-forgotten actors like Ed Begley (Sr.), Van Heflin, and Katie Jurado.  In one of my first blog entries, I wrote about what makes an old movie an old movie. One time at Office Depot, my eyes lit up at the sight of Odds Against Tomorrow, a 1959 film that I hadn't even heard of.  Well, Asleep In New York,  Another Old Movie Blog, and The Classic Maiden all understand why no one in their right mind would walk away from a bargain-bin video of a movie starring Harry Belafonte, Robert Ryan, Shelley Winters, Ed Begley, and Gloria Grahame...

BeauSoleil has a new album out. J. Poet of Crawdaddy! reviews it here...

Every year, the Oxford American publishes a special southern music edition that includes a compilation CD. It's always worth getting because of the sweep of the music: The CD crosses decades and genres with ease, successfully mixing the work of regional performers, one-hit wonders, and international stars. This year's 10th Anniversary edition features two CDs. Order from their web site or look for it at your friendly neighborhood news stand...

Past OA compilations have dug have some wonderful obscurities. A few years ago, they wangled a license for the audio of Robert Mitchum and Lillian Gish singing "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" in The Night of the Hunter. Check it out:

8 comments:

Foxessa said...

Good for you, K. Good Work, all of you!

Around here that process you described just can't happen. Too many people all who are experts and dominate.

Netflix has allowed me to catch up with what so many have always had as part of their consciousness.

Love, C.

John Hayes said...

Fantastic post, & not because you mentioned RFB (but thanks). As someone who was self-insured & who now depends on Medicare (for reasons that make me know the health care system all too well), & as someone whose wife is still self-insured, I'm with you 100% on distrust of the private insurers. If you think about it, the idea of private health insurance is nuts-- there's such a conflict between corporate/shareholder bottom line interests & actually paying for care. Tho I was never a wild Clinton supporter, I was so hopeful he'd get something done in this direction in 92. I'm hoping Obama, with more congressional support, can get something really innovative done.

& yeah, those three classic film blogs you mentioned are great. I also like "Out of the Past" http://outofthepastcfb.blogspot.com/

Best--
JH

K. said...

JH: I'll take a look at any blog that takes title from one of the great film noir's ever.

C: If you haven't seen The Night of the Hunter, move it to the top of your queue now! Besides showing off Mitchum at his creepiest (his Max Cady in Cape Fear is a goody two-shoes in comparison), it's the only film directed by Charles Laughton and has a screenplay by James Agee. Throw in Lillian Gish and Shelley Winters, and you just don't come across that level of talent in one movie very often.

John Hayes said...

"Night of the Hunter" is fantastic, & that Lillian Gish scene with her singing on the porch cradling a shotgun is sure to bring on goose bumps.

Sylvia K said...

Lord, I hadn't thought about Van Heflin or Katie Jurado in years! Let alone the rest of them, suddenly brought back old movie memories! Thanks! Sounds like good work regarding Medicare. Be interesting to see what finally pans out.

Ima Wizer said...

Being a contract worker, I work three jobs and the only way I would have health insurance would be self-insurance and if that was the case, I'd have no money for food and I'd starve to death. But I have life insurance!

K. said...

ima: So, if you die, you cash in big time! Is this a great country or what?

K. said...

Sylvia (and everyone else, for that matter): If you haven't seen it, look for Patterns, a mid-Fifties movie about a corporate power struggle starring Heflin, Ed Begley, and Everett Sloan (brilliant as an amoral CEO). Taut, gripping screenplay by Rod Serling, and tons better than Executive Suite. Even allowing for the all-male executive group, it still holds up.