Monday, July 27, 2009

Public Option Now

It should be restated again. We need health care reform now.

For one, like MSM, I got distracted by the Gates-gate episode. Following this very complex conversation or rather deconstruction about race, class, authority, law, free speech, and frankly, a story of two 'reasonable' men clashed which escalated about who's member is bigger than the other, was riveting.

It's already been said by many more wiser writers and minds than me; that Obama's presser last week that the real message of the urgency of the need for reform was buried in the MSM coverage of a seemingly gaffe by POTUS.

I've been trying to synthesize my thoughts about the bubbling race in America today question for weeks now. I had a rather random post that was only to function as a primer for me to redress late. I felt something was coming. I just wasn't expecting it to come in the form of segregated pools, excessive force/abuse of power cases, and the death of a pop icon.

Again, I digress.

I also started to draft a post about my recent trip to DC to lobby for reform. Particularly, I wanted highlight the people I met and why they were willing to bake in the late June heat, to push for reform and a public option. A few real life things happened that got in the way of that for me. And then my uncle died. I don't meant to make him out to be some sort of martyr, but the significance of his passing and the health care debate cross hairs for me. He was diagnosed with stage four cancer in March. He didn't have health insurance. It wasn't provided to him through his job. I can't help but wonder if there were a public option, would he have been able to seek medical attention months, years ago for a stomach problem that he could have easily dismissed as indigestion. He stopped treatment in June. Apparently he lived an expectantly longer life than any doctor would have conceived. He had a pre-existing condition that complicated his treatment with chemo. As my mother explained to me this past weekend, he had a childhood disease that should have been terminal. And it's apparently genetic. The irony, if you want to call it that, is that my uncle may have saved the life of his children with the discovery of this disease that was responsible for the complicating treatment that would've prolonged his life. I'm still trying to wrap my head around that.

The other story that seems to get lost is the face of the uninsured. It's an issue beyond black, white and class. 43 million Americans do not have health insurance. I've heard reported (trying to verify) that the number of uninsured Americans under the age of 30 constitute the large part of that number. A detail that I don't find too surprising. The low skilled worker, or the recent college graduate who have entry level jobs often are, for lack of a better word, shafted. Ask any bright, young thing who's employed by a publishing house, magazine, or advertising company to someone who's working as a janitor, security guard, or retail clerk. Do they have adequate health coverage, if any? Would a public option help small businesses who factor fringe benefits in employee compensation? Would small businesses be able to expand and hire more workers? Would that aid in our economic recovery?

I think Obama failed to explain these facts in a way that can incite urgency among everyone. MSM failed in deconstructing the argument in digestible bits that would push the conversation beyond what polls supposedly say about what Americans want: deficit reduction.

I'm biased of course. I'm part of a Venn Diagram of constituencies that's affected by this. I want a public option. I'm a bright, young, African American, thirtysomething that would love the independence of not relying on an employer to provide health care coverage. I'd also love a system that would make it affordable so that people like my uncle can seek and receive care in instances where their employer can't afford to provide them coverage. I'd also like for the forces that claim to read tea leaves through polls realize that my biggest care in the world is not the growth of the American deficit. I do care about it. But I'm a member of the generation that will carry the burden of many debts. I'm still researching the data, but my impression is that the national debt will increase with reform and without reform. I'd like to hear a sound debate about the rate of that growth if we don't reform our entitlement programs now.

It's food for thought.

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