The images of mostly old Americans in chaotic townhall meetings this fall are unforgettable as are the untrue arguments against meaningful health care reform made in those gatherings. Although enjoying the benefits of their government-run Medicare entitlements, the elderly in particular ranted and raved against a public alternative to private health insurance.
The deceptive propaganda campaigns (just think of death panels) by conservative ideologues and a greedy insurance industry have misled rather than educate certain segments of society. Thus the outcry against the alleged horror of government bureaucrats making decisions about health care needs—although bureaucrats in insurance companies decide day-in and day-out what medical treatments will be paid for--or not.
When a propaganda of fear warns of socialism and communism taking hold and replacing good, old capitalism, such nonsense tends to scare the hell out of those who fear to be the losers of reforms.
It is a disgrace that a rapidly growing number of Americans do not have any health insurance. But not only Republicans but also several Democrats in the U.S. Senate do not embrace meaningful health care reform that must include a public option. Therefore, MSNBC’s talk show hosts Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow called for setting up temporary free clinics for the uninsured to shame those conservative Democrats--Lincoln and Mark Pryor (both D-Ark.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.)—into joining the majority of Democrats and prevent a filibuster against health care reform in the Senate.
Until last night, when I happened to look at Larry King Live, I had never heard of “The Dr. Oz Show” and its host Dr. Mehmet Oz. But this physician’s account of his involvement in such a clinic in Houston drove home the plight of many, many millions of men, women, and children without health insurance.
There was the gripping account of a little girl that was recently examined in one of those temporary clinics in Houston. Although working, her mother has not been able to afford health insurance. As it turned out, the little girl had a hole in her heart. One wonders how many treatable health problems are not discovered for lack of insurance.
And that in the United States—not some third world country!
Regrettably, the news media failed to examine claims by the anti-reform forces that Europe’s health care insurance system does not work. For starters, investigative reporting would have found that in European countries with mandatory health insurances private insurances exist and fare well side-by-side with public insurances. Furthermore, fact checking would have shown that contrary to the propaganda of fear the so-called “socialized medicine” systems are working very well for patients, physicians, and other health care providers.Remarkably, in spite of divisive propaganda, well orchestrated rage in unruly townhall meetings, and the shortcomings of the news media, pollsters report growing public support for health care reform and majority support for the much discussed public option.
Common sense seems to inform the attitudes of the silent majority. If only the oppositional forces among Washington's decision-makers would listen.