Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Health Care Reform: Revolution or Evolution - The change we need

When Barack Obama was elected to the presidency of the United States, many of us felt a sense of hope we hadn't experienced in decades. We were convinced that a new era of transparency was unfolding, and that America would finally resolve its most important social, economic, and political disparities. We sensed a turning point in American history, a social transformation of major proportions. We imagined the rebirthing of the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. At the very least America had already taken a giant stride forward by electing its first ever African-American president!

While this "high on America" feeling swept across the land, a highly sophisticated narcissistic and evil counter movement to sustain the status quo was also gaining momentum. A small and powerful segment of the wealthy elite who run the business and politics of America for their own personal gain had no intentions of allowing "the change we need" to take root and upset their economic and political control. It wasn't "the change they needed!" When Barack Obama took his oath of office, the massive financial power of these massive giants was fully capable of purchasing and controlling the US Congress, and only Congress would determine what health care reform would mean. Since that time, nothing has changed this frightening scenario. Nothing!

Make no mistake, what is happening in health care reform is not at all different from what is happening in the reform of any other sector of our society -- be it business, law, religion, politics, science, or sports. The fact is that despite our hopes and great expectations, up until now "the change we need" remains far more a dream rather than reality. Fortunately, at last, many Americans are awakening to this reality and are outraged. However, outrage alone is insufficient to create the change we need.

Being a veteran physician with several decades of experience has given me an insider's perspective on why and how medicine has lost so much of its heart and soul and become a coveted business enterprise that is far more about return on investment than service. Yet I continue to have faith that the "change we need" is possible. We have the tools and power to make it happen today, but we haven't stepped up to the plate and used them. We've been in such a deep trance that we've failed to appreciate that we have always been in position to change how America operates in every way at the deepest level. We have been living under a spell cast by corporate America and those wealthy elite who control it.

The Affordable Care Act was little more than a token for health care reform. It did little beyond rearranging the chairs on the deck of a sinking Titanic. President Obama failed to educate and rally the public, and especially his political base, and few people in Congress understood the full implications of the long, convoluted, and poorly understood Affordable Care Act. Don't think this was done by accident. It was deliberate. Even worse, too many legislators focused primarily on how much money and power they could get in return for selling their vote. Big Pharma, big hospital chains, and the insurance industry did stellar work in investing their money and promoting their narrow, self-serving "solutions" in the US Congress and even the White House. Their return on their minor investment promised to be exceptional. And relatively speaking, the money they spent on lobbying and campaign contributions was merely their pocket change. What a cheap way to buy Congress and guarantee the status quo.

Big Pharma and the insurance industry invested in an excess of $500 million in "donations" to Congresspeople in 2009 that are nothing less than outright bribes. Let's do the math. There are 435 members of the House and 100 members of the senate. That comes to 535 people divided by $500 million dollars. Hmmm, that's nearly a cool $1 million per Congressperson! It is impossible to follow the dotted lines and come to any conclusion other than Congress has an allegiance to preserving and enhancing the status quo for Big Pharma, the insurance industry, and the very wealthy who control them and many other highly profitable industries. The value of a political soul in 2009 had a price tag of less than $1 million per Congressperson. What a steal when one considers that a total health care budget of $2.3 trillion was at stake!

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