Yes on Medicare, No on Public Option?

A few thoughts on the debates regarding health care reform…

“Medicare is our country’s health insurance program for people age 65 or older.  Medicare is financed by a portion of the payroll taxes paid by workers and their employers. It also is financed in part by monthly premiums deducted from Social Security checks” (information about medicare from ssa.gov).

That sounds remarkably similar to the essence of the public option in the 2009 health care reform bill.  Yes, you can respond that Medicare is not functioning as efficiently as it should or could.  Yes, you can respond that funding for Medicare is quickly running out and may not last through the end of the decade.  But, what I can neither understand nor accept is senators who have accepted the public health care option themselves (a.k.a. Medicare) who will deny it to their constituents.  Does anyone else see the irony in that? 

We presently have 50 senators over the age of 65, most (if not all) I presume are on Medicare–in other words, they are receiving publicly funded health care.  Yet many of those same senators (all of the republicans and a few conservative democrats) are voting against allowing Americans much worse off than themselves financially to have a public health care option. 

That doesn’t even begin to touch on the fact that ALL of our “representatives” receive the best health care available in our nation at taxpayer’s expense.  Their constituents may not be able to get any health care, much less health care at a reasonable cost or even approaching the level of their representatives, but apparently that fact doesn’t influence their vote.  It gets worse when you realize that senators cannot be denied coverage and have no lengthy waiting period (which is simply a nice term the insurance companies use for the period of time they research your history so that they can exclude anything they possibly can).  What does this mean?

Well, it seems that so long as the senators are taken care of it  matters very little to them whether their constituents are able to have affordable, reasonable health care costs and coverage (or, for the 40+ million Americans, any health care coverage at all).  Maybe they’ve been in the senate so long that they forgot they were representatives of the people and not the health insurance conglomerates.  Can you say term limits?

In short, its hypocritical at best and insidious at worst for any senator who receives the best health care coverage available in the country (and probably the world) and for those 50 senators over 65 who receive public health care (in the form of Medicare) to fight and vote against a health reform bill that seeks to provide the very people they represent with more fair and affordable coverage and a public option that provides competition for the private health care companies.  It makes you wonder who the senators opposing the bill are really representing–their constituents or the lobbyists for the health care providers?

In sum, unless the senators over 65 give up their medicare and the other senators give up their publicly-funded insurance they have no basis for denying the same opportunity for coverage to the very people they represent.  Yes on Medicare, no on a public option?  You simply cannot have it both ways.

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