Editor's Note: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz represents Florida's 20th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. She is also Chairwoman of the Committee on Appropriations' Legislative Branch Subcommittee and Vice Chair of the House LGBT Equality Caucus. The congresswoman wanted to share her thoughts on an issue that effects everyone, including the LGBT community- Health Care.
The voice on an old record is urging listeners to write members of Congress and ask them to oppose this legislation...
"And if you don't do this and if I don't do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free."
Sounds familiar right?
This type of rhetoric has been used regularly throughout the summer to scare people, particularly seniors, about proposals pending in Washington to provide health insurance for every American and reform the health insurance industry to eliminate practices such as denying people for pre-existing conditions.
The thing is, the words above are not from this summer, rather they were uttered by Ronald Reagan in 1961 as he worked for the American Medical Association (AMA) to defeat legislation to create Medicare.
We know now of course that the passing of Medicare, or what Ronald Reagan called "socialized medicine" did not bring about the end of freedom in America, but has brought freedom to hundreds of millions of seniors who've been provided quality health care that allowed them to remain healthy and independent.
Ronald Reagan was chosen by the AMA to narrate an LP to be distributed to 3,000 women across America who would hold coffee parties for their friends, and play this record of Ronald Reagan urging them to mobilize against pending Medicare legislation.
"The doctor begins to lose freedom... First you decide that the doctor can have so many patients. They are equally divided among the various doctors by the government. But then doctors aren't equally divided geographically. So a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town and the government has to say to him, you can't live in that town. They already have enough doctors. You have to go someplace else. And from here it is only a short step to dictating where he will go... All of us can see what happens once you establish a precedent that the government can determine a man's working place and his working methods, determine his employment. From here it's a short step to the rest of socialism, and determining his pay."
Yes, all that from just passing Medicare.
Of course, these arguments had no basis in reality, which brings me to death panels.
I wonder if some day, nearly fifty years from now, someone will look back upon the outrageous claims made by those opposed to health insurance reform and point to "death panels" as one of the greatest falsehoods put forward by big special interests hoping to guard their corporate profits.
The problem is, this type of argument, that the government is going to dictate where we live, what job we will do, or in the false death panel claim that the government will determine whether we live or die, plays at American's base emotions of freedom.
The argument of socialized medicine or death panels has no more basis for reality than did Ronald Reagan's depiction of our government dictating where Americans could or couldn't live.
Seeking to further scare seniors, the rhetoric opposing current health insurance reform, includes falsehoods on how the bill supposedly hurts Medicare.
Nothing in this bill would reduce benefits to seniors. The cost savings measures in Medicare under America's Affordable Health Choices Act are all targeted at protecting and improving services and ensuring choice, by achieving new efficiencies; expanding authority to fight waste, fraud and abuse; and eliminating the wasteful Medicare Advantage subsidies to private insurance companies that Republicans ignored for eight years. In fact, the legislation includes a net of $340 billion in new spending to IMPROVE Medicare benefits and health care for seniors.
So while corporate interests who profit off the current inefficiencies of the American health insurance system seek to distort the legislation, a real debate about how best to reform the health insurance system is lost.
We need this legislation. Whether you have health insurance right now, or you are currently uninsured, our present system is headed toward collapse unless we step in and reform it.
Health insurance costs continue to increase 15-20 percent each year on average. In Florida, health insurance premiums have nearly doubled in the past ten years.
Many Americans receive their health insurance through work, but as premium costs continue to increase, employers are squeezed on providing health insurance for their employees. The result? American businesses are increasingly cutting back on coverage, increasing co-pays, and in some cases dropping coverage for family members altogether.
The health insurance reform we are proposing will reverse years of unfair insurance company practices: 1) no discrimination for pre-existing conditions, 2) no exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles, or co-pays, 3) no cost-sharing for preventive care, 4) no dropping of coverage for the seriously ill, 5) no gender discrimination, 6) no annual or lifetime caps on coverage, 7) extended coverage for young adults, and 8) guaranteed insurance renewal.
Those that take this debate to the extremes, making up death panels, or falsely claiming socialism and a government takeover, are just trying to scare you... again.
If you have a question about health care reform, contact my office in Pembroke Pines at (954) 437-3936, in Aventura at (305) 936-5724, or in Washington, DC at (202) 225-7931, or online at www.house.gov/wassermanschultz, or log onto www.healthreform.gov