8/19/2009, 4:22 a.m.
Thoughtful Americans understand that health care reform is essential for the nation. The increase in costs is on an unsustainable upward trajectory. According to the National Coalition on Health Care:
• Health care spending reached $2.4 trillion in 2008, and is projected to reach $3.1 trillion in 2012 and $4.3 trillion by 2016.
• Such spending represented 17 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2008 and will grow to 20 percent of the GDP by 2017.
• Even with this rate of spending, nearly 46 million Americans remain uninsured.
• Other industrialized nations spend far less of their GDP on health care and still cover all of their citizens.
Bill Clinton tried unsuccessfully to reform health care in 1993. Barack Obama realized that finding the solution to the problem can no longer be postponed. The fiscal health of the nation depends upon curtailing these runaway expenses. However, the complexity of the problem creates a great opportunity for opposition.
Conservatives have jumped into the breach, determined to undermine any proposal that fails to support an exclusively private-industry approach. They plan to use this issue to erode Obama’s popularity with the electorate. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., stated, “If we are able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”
The right has unleashed a campaign of fear and disinformation that seems to have confused many Americans about the issues. Conservative followers have gone to town meetings designed to discuss the issues and have been quite disruptive. Their outbursts have often made rational discussion impossible.
It is inaccurate to assert that their conduct is un-American. Television interviews with prominent spokesmen indicate that dissidents seem to sincerely believe what they have proclaimed. They are not actors. That conservative politicians may have arranged for them to be present is of no consequence. They have the right to be heard.
From their perspective, health care reform has suddenly become an assault on the U.S. Constitution. They seem to yearn for a simpler time when the government would not be concerned with such matters.
They seem to be unaware that those more primitive times are long gone. In 1800, the total population of the United States was only 5,308,483, according to census data. This is less than today’s population of New York City. There were only 16 states in the Union then. As late as 1900, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii were not yet part of the United States.
The medical profession was unsophisticated at the time. Life was short. The average life span for Americans as recently as 1900 was only about 47 years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Clearly, the question of medical attention for all citizens could not have been a constitutional issue back then. Yet some Americans seem to be philosophically stuck in the 19th century.
Health care reform is too important to allow the truth to be obscured by those intent on keeping past shortcomings alive. Citizens can find the administration’s positions online at http://www.whitehouse.gov. Pass the information along to friends so that more citizens will be armed against conservative disinformation with the truth.