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Kearns and Sons

Real change is difficult but worth the effort

Guest Comment

By Gary Milner & Jennifer Knell, Corvallis

Perhaps you too received a rebate from your health insurance company. It was required (I don’t think they did it out of the kindness of their heart) under The Affordable Care Act. Under the act, 80% of premiums must be spent “… on health care services, such as doctors and hospital bills, and activities to improve health care quality, such as efforts to improve patient safety. No more than 20% of premiums may be spent on administrative costs such as salaries, sales, and advertising.” My insurance company did not meet that standard and is required by law to reimburse me for the percentage amount that they did not meet the standard. What a remarkably common sense approach to require money we actually spend on health coverage to go to improving patient safety and health. Many of us have been “over paying” for years.

Many on the Right want to overturn The Affordable Care Act. Short on substance they often repeat phrases like “death panels” and “socialism.” The truth is that conservatives have stood against many landmark social reforms that we sometimes take for granted today. Perhaps the greatest example occurred in the 1860’s. In the name of property rights and states’ rights (the same phrases we hear today) states broke from the union. The properties they were concerned about were slaves. It took a Civil War to “preserve a more perfect union.” Unlike today, those conservatives in the South in the 1860’s were largely Democrats.

The list of social reforms that have bettered the United States and that conservatives fought against is long. Some of these reforms include: women’s right to vote, the forty hour work week, work place safety laws, the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, the establishment of National Parks, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act (the South changing from a Democratic base to a conservative Republican stronghold is largely attributed to the passing of those Civil Rights laws). Even Medicare, the program that helps millions of seniors, was fought against by conservatives. Ronald Reagan was a paid spokesperson calling Medicare socialism. Equal rights for gay people and global warming are the current issues that eventually conservatives will come to terms with as the rest of the country and world move forward.

It seems fair to ask why these policies that benefit the middle class and guarantee the constitutional rights are often opposed by conservatives mainly on the Right. How do those on the Right feel about these policies today?

Some say the Affordable Care Act is a form of socialized medicine. We already have socialized medicine in this country. If a person decides, for whatever reason, to not have health insurance, all of us who have insurance pick up the tab for that person when they are sick or injured. We would sincerely like to hear from those opposing this law, their thoughts on this current form of socialized medicine. Are they OK paying for those without insurance? And what plans do they have to help the millions of citizens unable to afford health care coverage?

It seems the moral path of the United States, a country founded on great ideals and principles, to take care of its own. We have approximately 30 million people without health coverage. Many of us wonder what will happen to our savings if a health disaster strikes. Some say we have the best health care system in the world, statistics on spending, life expectancy, and infant mortality don’t bear this out. It is of little comfort to have a great system that is out of reach for many middle class Americans. It will take courage to do what is right, just like it did throughout our history to pass the other great social reforms. Years from now people will look back on the Affordable Care Act much like we do the other monumental social reforms and be thankful for its passage.

 

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