We meet three people today who demonstrate the breath-taking impact of the healthcare crisis on our country today: the soldier in Iraq dying from it, the middle-class professional suffering from it, and the insurance industry CEO getting rich off it. While (most) Americans see their quality of life degraded by our broken healthcare system, politicians continue to fiddle. The Governors of Texas and Illinois put out new plans that that focus on increasing insurance profits not improving healthcare, while the new Governor of Massachusetts tries to deal with the mess left him by his predecessor.
The life and death of William Beardsley (and its impact on his wife and their two toddlers) is the latest of many tragedies known as our national healthcare crisis.
Stacy Beardsley, a soldier's wife released this week from the hospital after a grueling surgery, watched two men in pressed military uniforms walk steadily to her front door.
"Tell me he's just hurt," the Indiana woman told the pair, according to family friend Marilyn Piersdorf.
"Well, they couldn't tell her that," Piersdorf said.
Her husband, Army Sgt. William "B.J." Beardsley, who recently lived in Coon Rapids, died Monday in Diwaniyah, Iraq, 80 miles south of Baghdad, after a roadside bomb went off near his vehicle.
The 25-year-old soldier had re-enlisted, in part, for the health insurance to cover his wife's medical bills.
He died the day she left the hospital.
Every politician in Washington and Minnesota not fighting to fix our broken healthcare system has William Beardsley’s blood on their hands. This is why we fight for SinglePayer healthcare—so that everyday Americans will no longer have to have their every life decision dictated by their desperate search for medical attention.
Vicki Reading, a realtor, is another of the tragedies. Today’s healthcare is organized around private insurance companies, who are in the business of denying care and coverage to people who need it most…the SICK. Ms Reading got cancer while not covered and in now un-insurable. In every other developed nation, she would be covered by their version of “Medicare”. Here? We sentence her to poverty and sickness.
To save money, Ms. Readling said, she defers visits to the doctor and stretches out her cancer medication, which costs her about $300 a month. She takes the tiny pills three or four times a week, rather than seven days a week as prescribed.
“I really try to stay away from the doctor because I am so scared of what everything will cost,” said Ms. Readling, who is divorced and has twin 18-year-old sons. Before every doctor’s visit and test, she asks, “How much are you going to charge me?” She says she tries to arrange “the best deals I can.” But in many cases, the price is still unaffordable, and “I have to do without.”
Ms. Reading is solidly middle-class and gainfully employed. The longer our healthcare deteriorate, the more the middle-class, and the economic well-being of all families, will be undermined by it.
But it’s not bad news for everybody. Robert Greczyn is making a killing off the healthcare crisis. His salary went up 22% last year, to over $3 million, for helping Blue Cross North Carolina make more money as the state’s largest insurer. Two other execs earned over $ one million. Mr. Greczyn and his colleagues are the root cause of our healthcare crisis; their gold-plated salaries and other overhead waste about one-third of healthcare dollars and cause untold tragedies as patients are priced out of the system and onto the streets. The only solution is to stop wasting so much money and move to the kind of national, SinglePayer health plan that works in every other developed nation.
Unfortunately Gov. Rob Blagojevich of Illinois seems more concerned with subsidizing the insurance industry than caring for the ill. His health plan leaked, and here it is:
Blagojevich's multi-layered "Illinois Covered" plan - estimated to cost $2.1 billion annually, at least initially - would shift some of the uninsured into existing public programs. Adults who make too much money to qualify could voluntarily buy state-subsidized, private insurance plans.
Larger businesses that do not provide health insurance for employees would be assessed fees, and small companies could buy employee health coverage at a discount. Meanwhile, some people who currently carry medical insurance would qualify for state-subsidized rebates to lessen their cost.
Note that the part about larger businesses having to “pay or play” is likely illegal; states can’t force that kind of benefit. So we’re left pumping more money into the public health system (how long will that last?) and various SUBSIDIES TO INSURANCE CORPORATIONS. The same insurers that are driving costs, denying care, and over-paying their CEOs will get MORE public funds from Illinois. They waste care dollars and now they will waste public dollars.
Thumbs down, Governor.
Rick Perry of Texas thinks even smaller than Blagojevich. He also wants to use subsidies to encourage poor people to buy private health insurance; he just wants to do so for fewer people. Ironically, one program he wants to expand is to discourage people from using Emergency Rooms.
These governors aren’t addressing the healthcare crisis. They’re addressing the health insurance industry bottom line—and, no doubt, securing large campaign contributions by doing so.
We see the end result of this kind of “insurance not care” mentality in Massachusetts. The new Governor, Deval Patrick, has come up with some plans that the poorest residents can buy. Of course they don’t cover dental, vision, long-term care, mental health, the kind of things that sick people need. That’s because the plan instituted by Romney and copied across the nation isn’t about healthcare—it’s about health insurance.