Did you know that there are over 41 million people in the United States without health care today? I just thank God that Iíve been so fortunate to have had health coverage all the while that Iíve had my two kids. I canít imagine what it would have been like without it.
Itís a disgrace to our country that weíve allowed this to go on to this degree. Itís a disgrace that too many of our senior citizens struggle to pay for prescription drugs.
What really bothers me is that along with any talk of improving health care are loud complaints about high costs. It bothers me because our politicians are perfectly willing to spend $100 billion dollars on a war thatís dividing our country. Perfectly willing to shell out $26 billion to Turkey just for allowing us to use their land for military bases. Perfectly willing to spend billions to bail out failing corporations whose CEOs collect multimillion dollar salaries.
We can afford to insure our people. We can afford a plan that allows our seniors to live out their lives without worrying about health care costs. We can afford these things and we should act because itís simply the right thing to do.
Canada today spends just over $100 billion per year to give its people free, comprehensive inpatient and outpatient hospital and doctor care. Their federal government and provinces cooperate and coordinate their efforts to make it possible. The infant mortality rate there is one of the lowest in the world and life expectancy for the average Canadian is 79.
One challenge for us is to get our federal, state and local government agencies to coordinate their efforts -- on anything. For any plan to work, however, that is precisely what it is going to take.
Making sure everyone is covered is a start, but quality canít suffer.
Speaking of quality and suffering, let me turn to HMOs. First, let me say there are some highly skilled and excellent doctors and nurses working for some of them. My son would not be alive today if this were not the case. Unfortunately, however, there are too many cases with people where the emphasis for concern is more on the costs involved than the quality of care given.
Nonprofit hospitals still look at their financial statements and measure their success much in the way a corporation does. Of course, you have to do this to some degree. There has to be some accountability and reason to effectively manage, but a big part of the bottom line should be the quality of the service delivered.
Thatís where the gripe comes in with HMOs. Too often doctors are overly conscientious about the costs of procedures. If a procedure is necessary, then it should be given.
Finally, no one needing emergency care should ever be turned away from any hospital. When this happens, all who were party to it should be fully prosecuted and jailed.
Our federal government should also be more responsive and supportive with medical research. George Bushís spending proposal on aids research, albeit late, sounded good on the surface. I think the jury will be out, though, to see if there is follow through. Obviously, there are too many aids sufferers in the U.S. today, and many, according to a UCLA department head, are unaware that the government will pay for their treatment, if they canít. I think the government wants it that way.
Our federal government also needs to remove the restrictions on stem cell research. Weíre not talking about fetuses here. Itís not a pro life or pro choice issue. Therefore, we should allow the research to be done. Many feel the possibilities for helping paralyzed patients recover could be dramatic.
Human cloning, on the other hand, should be forever banned. Anyone in favor of this is nuts, and anyone pursuing it is pursuing a dangerous course. The thoughts of mad leaders using cloned armies or cloning people to be used as terroristsÖ. Well, the idea is nuts and no good from it is worth the many bad possible outcomes.