I’ll bet you didn’t know that last week was “Cover the Uninsured Week.”
Over 500 events took place nationwide to draw attention to the plight of uninsured Americans, but the nation’s attention was focused on war.
Lack of health insurance is a far greater threat to Americans than Saddam Hussein or al Qaeda will ever be.
Over 75 million Americans under the age of 65 were uninsured at some point during 2001 and 2002, and over 40 million had no insurance at all during that period, according to a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation www.rwjf.org.
In a separate study, the foundation found that uninsured adults are far more likely to die of diseases than those with insurance are.
People without insurance usually do see a doctor, but they put it off until it is absolutely necessary.
This means that diseases are often diagnosed after it is too late to save the patient.
The uninsured also do not have access to regular medical checkups, which are essential in detecting life-threatening diseases early.
The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee healthcare to all of its citizens.
This is despite the fact that there have been five separate attempts to get national healthcare passed, from the American Association for Labor Legislation in 1915 to former President Bill Clinton’s plan in 1993.
Clinton’s plan, championed by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, initially had the support of nearly two-thirds of Americans, but an extensive ad campaign eroded that support, and the plan never became a reality.
National healthcare has always fared poorly in the U.S. because its opponents are quick to paint it as a socialist threat to the American way of life.
Anything that even smells faintly of socialism in the U.S. is quickly dismissed.
The red scares of the 1930s and 1950s, and the legacy of the Cold War, still have a long reach.
So, while we protect ourselves from creeping socialism, tens of millions of Americans suffer from disease without any help in sight.
President George W. Bush has pushed a prescription plan for senior citizens, which has long been the formula for dealing with medical issues.
Politicians will propose quick fixes for small problems without dealing with the underlying causes.
Instead of making massive tax cuts, why not use the money to fund a national health insurance plan?
Because Republican ideology says that people should help themselves.
That is why the GOP supports massive tax cuts, because they feel that people can help themselves better with their own money.
So Mr. Jones, a CEO, who already has health insurance, can use his $20,000 in dividend tax savings to make a down payment on a new Mercedes SUV while Mrs. Smith, who works two jobs at the mall, with no benefits for her or her kids, will receive a whopping $0 from Uncle Sam.
She can’t afford her doctors’ bills – but that’s the American way of life.
Brian White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.