Toward health care for all

Tony Regalado and Tony Regalado

Certainly we have all heard about or seen Michael Moore’s new film “Sicko”- a documentary that opens eyes for many of us Americans having problems with our system of privatized health care. It is true that the health care system in the United States is becoming increasingly frowned upon. In fact, earlier this year, a Gallup poll found that 42 percent of Democrats and 34 percent of Independents in this country find that universal health care is the answer to our system’s problems.

Even more surprising is that 18 percent of Republicans (a majority of the sample of republicans) agreed this was the solution for the issue.

If more and more voting Americans are demanding that the federal government implements a universal health care system, what exactly is holding our government back?

The U.S. government is facing one of the largest deficits in history for reasons that I will fall short in mentioning (saving that one for another article).

Raising taxes is the answer to funding this universal health care plan. H.R. 676 was a bill introduced in 2003 by Representatives John Conyers, D-Mich., Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, Jim McDermott, D-Wash., and Donna Christensen, D-Virgin Islands, which establishes a national health care plan for all Americans.

It claims that funding for this plan will come from continuing the current federal and state funding of health care programs as well as having a payroll tax of 3.3 percent and a 5 percent health tax on the top 5 percent of income earners.

Obviously these taxes are very modest in comparison to Canada’s estimated 35.5 percent income tax on people within the middle class income bracket. But we have to take into perspective that 44 percent of health care costs are covered by the Federal Government already.

Ironically, the tax issue is the usual defense for the argument that universal health care is not the answer. The fact is that a majority of Americans are already up to their necks in health care costs – whether it is because of paying for governmentally funded Medicare or paying for health care through private insurance.

So what exactly is the government’s problem with universal health care? Is it as simple as the scapegoat that our economy cannot functionally afford it? Or as corrupt as bureaucrats receiving large amounts of special interest funding from private health care organizations?

It certainly can’t be fear of socialized medicine because many basic necessities have already been socialized in the United States such as food stamps, postal services and education.

As more and more people in this country plead for a universal health care system to be implemented, we begin to see that the basic human right to live has been counted out of the socio-political scene.

Most of the top Democratic and Republican candidates running for the 2008 presidential election are more inclined to talk about “market reforms” or “private employer based insurance” rather than really tackling the health care needs of Americans.

Just recently, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has reportedly spoken about “government-controlled health insurance” as a very dangerous answer to our health care problems. And (as seen in “Sicko”) Hillary Clinton is now the recipient of the 2nd largest donation of funds given to politicians in the United States by private health care providers.

If our federal government is letting us down, what is there for us to do? We could go out and vote for what we believe to be the best answer to health care as offered by our preferred party leaders. But how sure are we that this Democrat or Republican who wins the presidency will truly fulfill the need for a universal health care system. A system that a majority of Americans in the largest political parties see as the answer to this nation’s health care problems?

The answer on how to achieve universal health care is within us. It is our responsibility as citizens of this country not only to support our style of government but also critique it when it has turned its back on the demands of the people.

We must not take compromises from our senators, representatives and president. Especially at our collegiate level of education, we must feel the most responsible out of the entire nation to yell louder in protest when our government turns a deaf ear.

Throughout the history of our nation, we have expressed a feeling of great responsibility towards change. We should take this action in that spirit of revolution that has captivated us from the beginning to become a diverse and powerful nation with a strong system of justice that understands our basic human rights.

It is only right that we protest our way towards change; towards a system of health care that allows us to live healthy and full lives.