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Tracy Emblem: The politics of health care coverage

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Many of us know from personal experience that our health care insurance system is not working. Families and small business owners cannot meet escalating premiums, co-pays and high prescription costs. Besides the millions of Americans who are without health care insurance at all, many are under-insured and cannot get the care they need. President Obama has stepped up to the plate to reform our health care insurance system.

The poor already have access to health care through Medicaid and the elderly are covered by Medicare. However, for the rest of us, between 1999 and 2008, the yearly premiums for family coverage went up 119 percent, while the inflation rate was only 22.1 percent. Many Americans have no preventative health care.

The health care industry, motivated by overreaching profits, is currently spending millions to poison public opinion on real health care reform. Talk show radio hosts spew fear comments and their fellow supporters in Congress parrot such emotional words as rationing, government takeover, bureaucrats and socialists in reference to health care insurance reform presently being debated on the floor of Congress.

Now these same people have stepped it up a notch inciting people to become vigilant and mob-like at town hall meetings around the country. They are being told to disrupt public forums which are being held to open the dialogue about the need for health care reform. These efforts are fueled by special interest groups and lobbyists bent on maintaining the status quo in our country and shutting down public discussion on the issue.

There is no question that the politics of fear works effectively to promote an agenda. It worked 16 years ago when Hillary Clinton first proposed that we evaluate the health insurance industry. Now, with health care coverage out of the reach for many, we must stand up to the vitriolic rhetoric rather than let special interests once again close the door to any reform.

In his first inaugural speech, President Franklin Roosevelt wisely declared that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. That concept remains true throughout the years, but many have forgotten it.

Related Links: More by Tracy | The state of your health care | More from “A more perfect union”

Americans are innovative. If we can put a man on the moon, we can find a way to insure all Americans have health care. According to the Center for Defense, the estimated war-related costs in Iraq for the fiscal years 2003 through 2009 totaled $1,631.6 trillion. One solution is to expand Medicare where people are allowed to choose their own doctors but receive needed care. Since we’re already paying for the poor and elderly, we can find a way to do this. We must triage our taxpayer dollars, and we must begin to consider policies which put people and American families first.

Tracy Emblem is an attorney and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress, California’s 50th District.

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