Great Letter in Bennington Banner

Here is a letter to the editor in the Bennington Banner from Anita Bellin, one of the leaders of the Bennington County Organizing Committee of the Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign (www.workerscenter.org/healthcare)
-----

Monday March 29, 2010

Speak, rally for single-payer health care in Vermont

When I was a girl -- more than 76 years ago -- my family was surviving on the kindness of strangers and the good will of the pushcart operator who sold fresh veggies -- he would give my mother the day’s leftovers. Thus, when I needed medical attention for a major illness they were at the mercy of a local physician and they paid him a small amount monthly for years to get caught up. There were no such niceties as health insurance.

We are now in the 21st century and being flooded with patronizing platitudes, telling us that the nation cannot afford to provide medical care for its ordinary citizens. It appears that to some of our elected representatives there are "other fish to fry," or perhaps they have no empathy for families who make less than they do while in Washington. Ever wonder what it would be like to know that every month you would receive one 12th of $100,000 so that you could regularly pay the doctor or dentist whatever the bill came to?

When we attest to the belief that all Americans have the right to affordable, accessible, quality health care we are told that we should scrap the current legislation and go back to start the process of health care reform all over again. To what end? Do the champions of the "do it over" group owe so much to their insurance lobbyists that this is a necessary step for them to come out of the partisan cage in which they have been hiding?

Or is it just more convenient to ignore their neighbors whose children may need medical attention but for whom the expense is out of sight? When we insist that Health Care is a Human Right, we are met with eyes rolled heavenward -- implying that we are truly crazy socialists.

I used to believe that living in a community, whether urban or rural, included participation in the ebb and flow of daily life. That we are all each other’s keepers and thus should have no hesitation when in comes to the needs of neighbors. I have been told that these are foolish ideas. I have been told that in the 21st century we are in a dog-eat-dog society and we must take responsibility for our own and ignore other folks who cannot cope -- they are not my problem. It brings to mind the pro-lifers who are so passionate about saving babies before birth but seem to have no plan for them as they live and grow. Each baby for itself?

Those of us who live and work in Vermont are exceedingly fortunate. We have an opportunity to form our own "reformed" health care system by establishing a single-payer process for patients and doctors to use and from which to receive immediate benefits. No more hassles for the doctor’s office to negotiate with your insurance company when you have had reasonable and necessary treatment. No more outrageous co-pays which are the Monday morning surprise for the patient and which the doctor only gets after the shock has worn off and the patient is able to fork over the money which was set aside for food or clothing. I could go on and on, but it seems more important to get to the point.

We need to put the brakes on -- no more fancy plans offered by an industry whose first priority is profit. No more waiting while the insurance company decides whether you are eligible for the treatment your physician recommends. No more excessive co-pays. Only a system where you contribute an amount of money based upon your income. A simple and direct progressive form of taxation for all the citizens. You are then served as you need it. What an outrageous concept.

Please help to bring this about. Please talk to your Vermont legislator about the development of a Vermont medical system based upon a single-payer method of dealing with the cost of medical care in a timely and fair fashion.

Please join us at the Statehouse for the rally on May 1 to show your support. We are at a vital turning point. Please be part of the new wave of progress -- profit for the patient and prompt, no hassle, payment for the doctor. Sounds like a nice way to do the necessary business of daily living. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful was to reform our lives?

Health care is a human right!

ANITA BELLIN

North Bennington