FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hope is Dead

Studs Terkel, the eternally optimistic author of Hope Dies Last was always a champion of the little guy. The health care legislation we can expect from Congress still leaves millions of Americans uninsured, does nothing to lower premiums and certainly does nothing to increase access to health care in under served areas. Studs must be rolling in his grave.

Farmers and other rural residents are severely limited in their access to health care. Rural hospitals and clinics have been taken over by health care corporations, closed or merged, their services outsourced. Small town doctors in private practice are, in many cases, forced by the inherent economics of the insurance bureaucracy, to become part of the corporate system.

Is this bad for rural residents? It forces us to use larger urban hospitals, which, for those of us with inadequate or no insurance, is unaffordable. It also takes away the availability of adequate local care and doctors who see patients as people, not as a compilation of statistics and test results to be run through the system in assembly line fashion.

I remember the days of the family doctor making house calls, the local hospital where we could get stitched up, have babies and minor surgery. Part of the hospital was a nursing home that provided seniors the opportunity to stay in their small town when they needed care. The doctors were not rich, but they were loved, respected and a part of the community.

I can get health insurance from a number of private insurance companies, unlike urban markets where competition is often limited to only a few corporate insurance providers. Problem is, I and roughly 46 million other Americans cannot afford insurance, whether we are rural or urban.

In rural areas, health care is an acute problem. Rural residents are twice as likely to be uninsured as urban Americans. Farmers and ranchers are four times as likely to be “underinsured”, (covered by insurance with reduced benefits and high deductibles) and our access to health care is often limited.

The American Academy of Family Physicians noted that in choosing their practice site, graduating physicians rated factors such as family, culture, community and schools ahead of income potential. While many doctors might shun rural family practice for higher paying specialties or prefer the social life of the city, most of us would much prefer a physician who saw community and people as more important than money. After all, that is what drives most small farmers and rural folk.

The Medical Group Management Association, in its 2008 compensation_ report_ indicated that family physicians and general surgeons who worked in private practice tended to make more than those who worked for hospitals, so the income potential is there. However, due to the pressures of collecting insurance reimbursement, paperwork, dealing with the uninsured and caring for those who, due to lack of insurance coverage, are unable to seek preventative care and to pay for subsequent illnesses, rural areas are less appealing.

So, it is not the people, the pay, the work or the culture that puts rural Americans in a health care desert. It appears that rural Americans lack available, affordable health care because the corporate health care system and private health insurance companies have eliminated access, driven physicians away and priced insurance and health care out of reach. Subsidizing insurance premiums will not reduce administrative costs, nor does anything else in the pending Senate legislation.

The private health insurance system has no competition to keep premiums in check. Insurance companies are already ramping up premiums for 2010, so, health insurance will cost more, for individuals and employers. Again, the Senate legislation does nothing to address this.

Obama’s promised “Robust Public Option” is dead. Expanded Medicare coverage, which could have been the single most effective way to cover all Americans and reduce health care costs is dead as well. Despite the findings of Johns Hopkins Hospital and School of Medicine, that Medicare beneficiaries are overwhelmingly satisfied with their coverage and, Medicare is very efficient by any objective means, expanded Medicare is dead.

A study done by the California Nurses Association noted that “a comprehensive Medicare based Single Payer system can make significant contributions to access of quality care for all US residents and in the process generate a much needed and very substantial economic stimulus in the form of jobs, enhanced business and public revenues and increased wages for the population at large”.

The President and Congress tell us that health insurance reform must be “budget neutral”. Why health health care spending but not, for example, military spending? Of course those who plan wars know they will not be called upon to die or suffer, just as those blocking insurance reform know they will always have gold edge coverage.

Protecting the insurance companies, the health care corporations and campaign contributions is apparently more important than decent, fair coverage for the rest of us.

Because the President presented no plan, because his campaign promises were empty, because Progressives in Congress had no support from the White House, because he sold out the on the health care needs of the self employed, of union members, of farmers, indeed, of everyone that is or may ever become sick or injured; hope is dead.

JIM GOODMAN is a farmer form Wonewoc Wisconsin and an IATP Food and Society Fellow

More articles by:

Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin.

September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savoir
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
John Kendall Hawkins
Boning Up on Eternal Recurrence, Kubrick-style: “2001,” Revisited
Haydar Khan
Set Theory of the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail