As I mentioned before, I work at the local paper now. About two weeks ago there was a letter to the editor from a local woman warning everyone of the evils of public health care coverage. She went on about how it was dangerous and how, because no one had read the WHOLE proposal, if we allowed it to pass we would find ourselves quickly on the road to government managed hell. (Okay, she didn't use those words, but you get the point.)
I have to wonder how long it's been since this woman had to decide between basic medical care and paying the bills or feeding her children. My family has no medical coverage. We don't work jobs that provide it, don't make enough to buy it on our own and don't qualify for state based programs BECAUSE we have jobs. This leaves my Type 2 diabetic husband without needed medical help, doesn't allow me to take my son to the doctor when he's sick and means that if anyone is ill, we have to go to the ER to see a doctor. No dental coverage means my son isn't seen regularly to have his teeth checked and my husband, who is in desperate need of treatment deals with abcessed teeth and constant pain.
"Socialized" medicine is not a perfect system. There are waits and many brand new medications are not available immediatley...but weigh the options. The basic medical needs of millions of American's are not being met. This leads to serious health issues, which cost more than basic care. Our infant mortality rate is higher than it should be because women don't have access to basic prenatal care. Children don't receive immunizations because families can't afford them or don't meet the criteria for reduced or free services. Milions of families are forced into bankruptcy or worse, forced to spilt up their families (Yes, it's happened...) in order to get medical coverage for children who are seriously ill.
From where my family, and many others like ours, sit...a public option, even one that only provides for basic care, it going to be better than what we have now. It means access to preventative care, it means not having to lie awake at night feeling guilty because you can't get medication for a sick child. It means a lot.
People talk about the loss of private coverage, no one is going to take that away. If you can afford it, by all means, keep it, but don't ruin the first real chance many of us have had at coverage for our families.
Others say that they shouldn't have to pay for others to have medical care...meaning they don't want their tax dollars to support a public health option. Where do they think the money for Medicade and Medicare comes from? Not only that, but the money for Food Stamps and TANF. Families who get on welfare now have to stay there or risk losing coverage for their children. Who do you suppose pays for that?
We need some sort of public health care coverage in this country and we need it badly. If the plan now isn't acceptable, then make suggestions about how to fix it, but stop spreading fear and panic in order to kill the option outright.