Healthcare: broken promises, broken state, broken healthcare system

Texas versus Healthcare, er, "Obama care"

Michael Burgess 
Garnet Coleman  Sarah Davis  Kyle Janek  Charles Schwertner  Charles Ornstein (mod.) 

(Update: This panel was packed and during the open questions section, the audience was extremely energized over the issues, going from laud applause to outright boos to panelists who were opposed to the Affordable Care Act. One audience member added that he was surprised that even the state of Oklahoma was ahead of Texas in finding a way to fund Medicare to meet the needs of its citizens.)

Some people just don’t deserve healthcare, apparently. We need healthcare reform, of yes of course we do. But getting it done like other other countries do, through a government program and through providing healthcare – and requiring it – to entire nation, is just not quite the way the Republicans want to do it. Not that any other options have been put on the table. It’s easy to trash an initiative. It’s a lot harder to work together to come up with a solution to the healthcare crisis that is helping to cripple the American economy.

To be eligible for healthcare subsidies and assistance in Texas, you have make less than $200 a month. But some people are concerned that a person who did the paperwork to qualify for healthcare support might somehow over the course of time earn more than $200 a month and therefore no longer deserve assistance. Madness.

The only way to get help for yourself or your family is to be without any source of (legal) income, whether it’s food stamps for children or the elderly, or healthcare. Oh, and while you are waiting for needed food or healthcare, let’s do a drug test for good measure. Because if someone has a drug problem, the last thing we might want to do is provide them with any kind of help. Heartless.

Ridiculous regulations were put in place to keep concerned helpers from giving information and instruction to the disadvantaged on how to sign up for healthcare. Because we wouldn’t want people to be misled. Better that they have no information at all. Cynical.

Garnet Coleman: “We all understand that people need healthcare. Texas constituents want us to provide this service for them….and with cancer …we have made a commitment to cancer [treatment] but not to those who need the cancer treatment.” (this got applause from the audience.

Opponents claim that Medicare expansion is not an option, that we can’t add “able bodied” people into a system that is already providing healthcare to a current set of Medicare recipients. What does “able bodied” mean in this context? Able to go out and pay for their own healthcare? Or able to go “get a job” in an economic scenario where most people can no longer obtain a full-time job that offers the benefit of healthcare as part of employment?

Kyle Janek, Commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services, suggested that people don’t need a healthcare card  – if they get sick they can already just show up  at some clinics (as opposed to hospitals? but it’s well known that most show up at the hospital, which is cripplingly expensive) and get care without having the “Obama” style healthcare plan in hand.

Garnet Coleman: “There is a difference between showing up at a clinic for care, and having an insurance card in your pocket and being able to have a primary card doctor…. it’s called certainty.”

Janek talked about a “safety net” that is currently dispelling the old myth that the only place you can go for help without a card is the hospital, as there are clinics that “stay open late” to provide healthcare to the uninsured. He admits that there is a “terrible” nursing shortage in Texas.

The children’s healthcare act is set to be sunsetted as the affordable care act was supposed to take over for this type of care. It’s not yet in place to provide that coverage.

Again, like every other failing system, right-wing anti-government spokespersons decry how Medicare is overburdened and underfunded – but it’s standard and well-understood operating procedure for Republicans to starve a program of needed funds for decades and make a campaign to shut down a “failing” system, when appropriate funding would keep the system running effectively. This has been seen locally with the cynical starving of funding for the mental health facilities in Texas, such as the state hospitals, followed by presentations to the Lege to close them and replace them with private, for-profit systems.

Panelist suggest that the Affordable Heathcare Act was extraordinarily “disruptive” to the system. Unlike tech conference culture, there is a lack of understanding about the positive potential for disruptive change – particularly a disruptive change in an area that is shockingly broken and corrupt.

So, it’s costing more money to get better healthcare. Hold the fake “surprise and dismay” about having to pay more, because the very folks who can afford to pay more are the ones complaining the loudest. And if healthy people are forced to pay into the very system that will be there for them when illness strikes, are we really supposed to care about that selfish whining? Anyone who works for a state agency that takes a percentage of the worker’s salary to put into a pension plan understands that some of the pool or workers will never get a pension, just like some people potentially might never “need” significant healthcare. But don’t count on it.

As those who have significant health issues say, if you are healthy and “able bodied” now, you are basically the temporarily able, because illness and disease does not prey exclusively upon morally lazy people – even the hardest working person may find themselves stricken with serious illness, faced with the loss of their job – and if healthcare is tied to their job, then they can look forward to the loss of their home, to overwhelming debts, and crippling burdens for themselves and their families.

Cynical or myopic denial of the need to work with the necessary “disruption” of “Obamacare” is delaying the solution. Some blame the “budget deficit” saying that if we appropriately fund the system, we are just borrowing from the future. But proponents like Garnet Coleman say that more people are invested in not finding solutions and throwing around inflammatory rhetoric instead of working towards a realistic and ethical solution to the problem of healthcare.

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