Care Reform Update: Covering the Uninsured in Iowa (and Illinois) is a Moral Issue
by Alta Price, M.D.
Spring brings Cover the Uninsured Week, March 14 – 20, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. I wrote about it last year, and you can read my post with more details here.
Check out the state-specific information for Iowa here. About 92 percent of Iowans can get health care when they need it, although if you scroll down the page for details you’ll see this is based on data collected in 2005-2006. With the poor economy, I assume more than 8 percent of Iowans today can not get health care when they need it. (The number of Illinois residents that can get health care when they need it is about 88 percent.)
For those of us on the left, health care is a right, and making sure everyone in the richest country in the world has access to health care is a moral issue. Since Americans share values of fairness, equity, and compassion for the less fortunate, our leaders should be making a stronger argument from a moral framework. I’ll quote this David Ignatius column from the Washington Post How Obama can shift the health-care debate:
Both the Senate and House health care reform bills that have passed Congress extend coverage to millions who are currently uninsured – a major step towards a more just society.
If you look at polls, like this Pew Research Center poll from January, you will see that only 26% of self-identified Republicans, versus 75% of Democrats and 41% of Independents, think providing health insurance to the uninsured is a “top priority.” Of course there is much more to the bill that Republicans and Independents will like, but they really don’t care about the 30 million people who will finally get health insurance if this bill passes.
Tell your Republican friends that health care security is a major benefit of the health care reform bills for those currently insured. Just because you have insurance today does not mean you will have it tomorrow.
Without reform more employers will drop coverage.
Without reform if you lose your job because of a serious illness, you may not be able to afford to keep your insurance even for the limited period of time you are entitled to continue participating in your employer’s plan under COBRA.
Without reform people who get sick, or have a seriously ill family member, will continue to be dropped by their insurer.
Without reform people with pre-existing conditions will not be able to get health insurance if they want to start a small business or work for an employer who doesn’t provide insurance. Most of the people who go bankrupt because of health care expenses actually have health insurance.
Without reform, people with health insurance will continue to face financial ruin when they use up the annual or lifetime limits of their policy, or discover their insurance is junk insurance when they try to get the care they need. (See also this excellent editorial from the New York Times – If Reform Fails).
So even if your Republican friends don’t care about the 22,000 – 45,000 Americans who die every year due to lack of insurance, this bill may save their life some day should they have the misfortune of becoming ill or losing their job when they already have a pre-existing condition. (Note: The number of deaths varies depending upon the study/methodology.)
For those who do care, the Health Care Reform Issue Forum of Progressive Action for the Common Good, together with the Illinois Campaign for Better Health Care, will be having a “die-in” on Thursday, March 11, 2010, at noon. We are having the event in Rock Island, Illinois (we are a bi-state progressive community) at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 4501 7th Ave.
We will be using some of our Handprints for Health Care panels to depict the number of people who die every day from lack of insurance. Some participants will further dramatize the plight of the uninsured by “dying” – crumpling to the ground. The “die-in” will be videotaped and put up at YouTube. (If you want to come and be in the video, arrive at 11:30 am, dressed in black, for the rehearsal!)
Next week I’ll bring the link to the YouTube video along!
Price is a physician practicing Pathology in Davenport, Iowa. One of
the original Deaniacs, she stays involved with Democracy for America,
Iowa, and the Quad Cities. She advocates for quality, affordable health
care for all, primarily as a volunteer with Progressive Action for the
Common Good (Health Care Reform Issue Forum). Watch for Dr. Price's Health Care Reform Update every Tuesday here on Blog for Iowa. E-Mail Alta Price
You make an excellant case for health care reform. This is a thoughtful and well written opinion. I think most Americans see through the Republicans' opposition to reform as a thinly veiled attempt to serve the corporate gods they worship and to whom they are all too willing to sacrifice everything from healthcare reform, to jobs creation, to financial reform, and to the myriad other issues that are designed to help American middle class and poor people.
Thank you very much for your kind comments, Anonymous!