Immediately following President Obama’s Town Hall Meeting on health care, there was criticism on the orderly conduct of the public, as if it were not a true reflection of the mood of the country. Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC was quick to point out that people tend to behave more respectfully when in the presence of the President of the United States. This coincides with the fact that there was an obvious presence of Secret Service agents, which is not found in the Town Hall meetings of others.
The mere fact that this was the first point made is evidence that those opposed to the message continue to miss the message. This is not about how rowdy the crowd gets or doesn’t get in the presence of presidential level security. This is about understanding a proposal to repair the elements of our healthcare system that are inefficient and inadequate.
There remains a number of people on Medicare who do not know it is a government run healthcare program. Equally shocking is the fact some people believe that the concept of a “death panel” to decide who gets medical treatment is part of this legislation. It is not. The President clearly stated that he “does not support a death panel”. He also said he will not sign this legislation if it adds to the deficit. There are provisions in the bill to make it financially self-sustaining.
Many arguments from the defenders of the status quo seem to neglect the fact that for many of us, at each renewal, premiums and out of pocket expenses go up and benefits go down. If you change jobs, you may not have any affordable options for health care. As for rationing – we already have that. People are often denied tests or treatments by insurance companies because they are “not covered.”
As President Obama noted, a good portion of the “scare tactics” being used against healthcare reform have been directed at senior citizens. They are also the largest group of private citizens opposed to changing the system. But Medicare is financially unsustainable without some kind of reform, and is projected to run out of money within the next ten years if we maintain the status quo. “For all the scare tactics out there, what is truly scary is if we do nothing,” President Obama said.
If Medicare recipients had to buy their own insurance from private companies, their age group would make the premiums extremely expensive. And if not for the government run Medicare program seniors now enjoy, they might have no coverage at all for their pre-existing conditions.
Republicans who like Medicare but don’t like democrats may have forgotten an important fact. It was a Democrat who gave them the program that they defend so dearly. Medicare was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.