Saturday, August 15, 2009

Medicare is Government Health Care

Medicare is a single-payer, government health care program. This simple fact, if known, would likely cool the jets of most of the angry anti-health care reform shouters at town hall meetings.

Many of the shouters are obviously on Medicare, but they don't seem to know that they are in a single-payer government health care system. At one of the town halls there was a sign saying "Keep the government out of my Medicare!" At another, the congresswoman asked for a show of hands: "Who's on Medicare?" Half the audience raises their hand. "Who's happy with it?" most hands stay up. "Who wants government health care?" most of the hands go down. "Do you know that Medicare is a government program?" Booing -- they don't believe it! They are dead wrong. We need to repeat one simple fact -- Medicare is government health care -- over and over and over and over until it penetrates their consciousness. This will take time.

A couple years ago I had a knock-down-drag-out argument with three of my conservative neighbors trying to convince them that members of the U.S. Navy were government employees. It didn't matter that their commander is the U.S. President. It didn't matter that weapons are bought and paychecks are cut from federal tax dollars by the U.S. Treasury. It didn't matter that the "U.S." in U.S. Navy stands for the United States Government. I couldn't convince them. In their minds government employees are lazy incompetents, but members of the military are brave, hyper-competent defenders of freedom -- how could they also be government employees? But they are.

If you don't have the critical facts right, you will come to the wrong conclusions and make poor decisions. The fact is that a huge number of Americans are on single-payer government health care programs. Those over 65 and the disabled are on Medicare. The poor are on Medicaid. These are both private-provider-government-payment, but many Americans are on government-owned healthcare: namely, the military are taken care of by doctors on a government salary and veterans can get care at government owned clinics and hospitals. For the most part, Americans in single-payer government health programs get pretty good care.

Why not the rest of us?

No comments: