Saturday, August 08, 2009

Swift Boating Health Care

By Sharon Dooley.

Well folks, it’s August and the Swift boaters have come up from the murky depths yet again, this time to try to distort the message against health care. They and others on the right have marshaled their mercenary forces against change and set out once again to spread the lies that polls have decided would be effective destructors. Disgraced former Health care Executive Rich Scott (mentioned in my earlier blog) has spread his millions around various lobbying outlets in DC, helping to outfit buses and pay for “involved citizens” to tour around and organize demonstrations that suppress free speech and quash civil discourse. (Conservatives for Patients Rights is one of them.) This is becoming an annual August rite – only much more venal than Hay fever!

In Maryland, House Majority leader Steny Hoyer was shouted down when he tried to meet with constituents and have a reasonable discussion about the various Health care options before the Congress. Some criticized Senator Ben Cardin, when he held a closed door Town meeting recently, but perhaps he was wiser than some of his colleagues who were filmed attempting to shout over organized mobs. Progressives throughout the area are attempting to provide sane voices in these meetings and Move-on and others are trying to run reality commercials.

MSNBC filmed Republican operatives – denying their affiliations and insurance company employees – in their company shirts – all speaking out as “ordinary people” in their objections to “government run health-care.” Oddly enough many parents and grandparents are doing quite well with their “government run” Medicare programs and even their prescriptions drug plans. Additionally, thousands of children are now immunized through the federally run Vaccines for Children programs and the SCHIP for uninsured minor children, while other elderly residents in nursing homes are covered under the dually sponsored State and Federal Medicaid programs.

Some in Montgomery County may have received the emails and scare tactics being voiced here in this battle. Only this time the sides are not evenly matched. While well-meaning Democratic Members of Congress attempt to reach out to their constituents, the opposition has the propaganda machine out in force. Older residents are being frightened and told that their health care will be rationed and their Medicare benefits will be reduced. Claims are being made that indicate seniors will be required to make living wills and end of life plans (not a bad idea in the abstract) which will then lead to euthanasia. Also discussed is the supposed creation of local medical panels that will make specific life and death decisions about elderly people based on economic criteria. While studies have shown that the last year of life is a huge expense for Medicare, care decisions are often made by families who are upset and emotional and do not know what their loved one might have wished. Nurses know how hard it is to decide whether or not to provide more life supports. Caring advisors believe that this decision is a difficult one best made when all sides are healthy and unemotional. But death squads and rationing of end of life care options – incredible! Nothing could be further from the truth; where are the sane voices? Nurses and primary care physicians who care for these patients and others have long been among the loudest voices pressing for health care for all and in support of the single payer options, because they know the reality of our inadequate health care system. AARP has some facts and myths on their web site Myths that try to answer some of these concerns but this voice is a quiet one, not easily heard in this bedlam of the current media. AARP should not be so timid and should use their bully pulpit as they did in the prescription drug plan fight where they helped the flawed Bush drug plan get passed.

Those in favor of Health care reform are being labeled as anti-American Nazis, posters have shown Obama with a Hitlerian moustache and the haters are out in force. Even Sarah Palin has weighed in, claiming these planners would kill her son with Down’s syndrome because he is not productive in society. This must stop. How could an intellectual discussion be reduced to such absurdity? Americans spend more than any other country on health care, but we trail many countries in areas such as infant mortality and longevity because we do not use our health care dollars wisely. We need to follow the money here and note that those who stand to gain the most if reform fails are the major drug companies, insurance companies and hospital associations. Those who would lose the most are all the rest of us. Since there is no one bill currently approved – just agree upon reform. Please be a voice for reason and sanity and contact your elected officials now – let them hear from the real voters whose free speech is stilled by the voices of the mobs. Tell them we need real reform – now. Do not fall for Swift boating again.