Lee Purrier, Published December 01 2013
Letter: Shift to private services has been costly failureSince the early 1980s, the United States has been driven from a balanced government/private sector relationship toward more private-sector control. The movement is generally labeled “privatization.”
The drive behind privatization was illustrated brilliantly in a recent letter by David Strand of Aitkin titled “Why Do They Hate Obamacare?” It’s all about the money and saving their sacred cash cow. It has nothing to do with providing affordable health care for millions of uninsured and underinsured and controlling health care costs for everyone.
Using health care as an example, in almost every other industrialized country in the world, health care is considered a basic human need and therefore included in the social safety net provided by their governments. There is no argument about who is covered and what limitations are placed on their care.
Health care is simply there for everyone. It is paid for through general taxing policies or taxes specifically targeted toward health care starting with your first paycheck. Everyone pays; everyone benefits. All conditions are covered. Decisions are made by the patient and health care providers, not by profit-motivated health insurance companies and other hangers-on to the health care gravy trains.
Here at home, the Affordable Care Act is a start in the right direction but at least 25 percent of the public, like me, believe it doesn’t go far enough. Health care should be treated the same as national security, public education, food and drug safety, environment protection, patent and copyright laws and many others as an integral part of our socioeconomic infrastructure. It’s simply in the air we breathe.
So what would be the positive effect of health care for everyone? First, look at a few things eliminated. Medicare, Medicaid and military/VA hospitals would just be part of health care. One-time enrollment with no questions about pre-existing conditions or your financial status. Elimination of health insurance companies so there are no plans to choose from. This alone would save at least 20 percent of our $3 trillion ($600 billion) a year health care costs while reducing profit-motivated restrictions on care. But perhaps the biggest positive effects would come from returning control of real health care back to the actual providers – the doctors, nurses, labs, pharmacies and hospitals – whose equipment, knowledge and training we all depend on for our actual care. Insurance company CEOs and administrative staffs provide no care, just additional costs and care constraints.
Secondly, health care for all would free entrepreneurs and businesses at all levels to invest in creative ventures without fear of unexpected health care-induced failure, workers could move more freely from one company or region to another, veterans could be treated at nearest facilities, state health care insurance boundaries would disappear – other advantages too numerous to list.
This drive toward privatization of basic human needs like health care leads one to look at other essential government services that are encouraged to “privatize.” For example, privately owned prisons are increasing to handle overflow of prison sentences due to recent tough, long-term sentencing rules for even minor non-violent crimes. Private owners cheer these rules to keep their spaces filled and encourage expansion.
Another example is privatization of military functions. Military units used to be self-reliant, able to be dispatched to any part of the world without civilian support. During the past two wars in Iraq, companies such as Halliburton moved in and took over many support roles at great cost and reduced efficiency. In both of these examples, the government (us) pay the profiteers at much higher cost.
Privatization of vital government services to “promote the general welfare” as stated in the Preamble to the Constitution has been a costly failure for all but the 2 percent at the top.
Purrier lives in Park Rapids, Minn.