Well, it’s here.
The campaign has been waged, the victory scored. Tuesday will mark the beginning of a historic era in our country’s history.
You now know the minute details of what faces this country; things you could not know while campaigning and probably wish you didn’t know now.
We, on the other hand will now find out if promises made can be promises kept. Some will be. Some won’t be. Some can’t be.
“Change” was the theme of your campaign. I’d like to throw out some ideas for change we can “live” with.
Change that can help every single American.
Change that can save the health care system in this country.
At the risk of sounding like a Frank Capra movie, I believe America is the greatest country on Earth. I believe it. You believe it. So, even though I did not vote for you, we have one major belief in common.
Given America’s greatness, why is our health care system so fragmented, so focused on illness, so underfunded?
There is no one answer. You may be President when the system improves or it may take you starting the ball rolling and a successor to complete. But, there are ways to begin looking at the system now to make it better.
This is what I believe:
- Every American should have access to the same quality health care no matter where they live, whether they are employed, whether they are healthy, whether they are sick.
- Health care is a need, not a right. Rights are not purchased (life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness)…Rights are fought for. Needs are purchased. Health care will require funding and adequate payment to those who provide it.
- The focus of any health care plan needs to be….health! This is the definition of primary care. Regular check ups. Immunizations. Screening tests. Public health is also the definition of primary care.
- Public health is so much more than just making sure people have a doctor handy. Public health means working on the infrastructure. Decent housing. Good schools. Jobs. Good stores. Stable neighborhoods that invite businesses to invest.
This is what I believe:
- Anything our government touches becomes mismanaged, misused, misfunded and bloated to high heaven.
- I live in California, don’t try to tell me otherwise (and this is a Republican talking!).
- Ergo, health care should not be managed by the government. Health care must be managed at the community level with input from physicians, nurses, other health care disciplines and lay citizens.
- Drop insurance.
- Employers pay a percentage of tax for the number of employees they have. Tiny business? Less taxes paid. Big corporation? More taxes paid. It’s got to be less than what employers are paying now.
- Every individual worker pays a 2% flat tax for health care. Poor? You pay less. Rich? You pay more. But, this is all you pay. Ever. No co-pays, no medication costs. Just your fair share of taxes. On welfare? Then 2% of your welfare check is kept for health care needs. Yep, you pay, too.
- Add this to monies already spent for Medicare and Medi-Cal. You can cover every person in America and those who can’t pay are covered by those who can. We are doing this already.
- This is the plan of the Physicians for a National Health Plan – it’s already been worked out and debated and supported by California nurses. Check out the site. Why re-invent the nearly invented wheel?
Things we need to do now:
- Change our focus to primary health care and not big-bucks disease management.
- Study other countries’ systems. Learn from their mistakes. Learn from their successes.
- Make medicine and nursing professions that attract the best and the brightest. It does not come cheap. Anything worth having never does.
- People are your best investment in health care. Make it worth the time and effort to become a doctor or a nurse.
- You can’t provide primary care without primary providers, nor can you expect someone to be willing to work for the same (or less!) wages provided to the local waste-management worker after 12 years of education leading to over $100,000 in debt. Let’s get real.
Mr. President, you are obviously able to communicate with the American citizen, or you would not be where you are today. Please:
- Let Americans know that they are responsible for their health. Not the US Government. We each make our own decisions leading to good or bad health in the long run. What the government can do is provide the infrastructure that gives people the choice to make correct health decisions. That gives them neighborhoods that are safe and where businesses can thrive. Some will come crying to you that they are victims in the health care arena, that they should not have to pay for whatever reason. Don’t let them. Stand firm.
- Make it clear that health care is not an entitlement. Make sure the patients know that they will be paying for their health care and that they are expected to pay for their health care. With that responsibility comes the knowledge that the health care community is accountable for the care they provide. That is no change from what we have now.
So, Mr. President, I wish you luck and will pray for your success in the office you have won, because your success is my success, and that is bipartisanship at its best.
Kim McAllister, RN