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Americans Want a Public Option on Health Care -- Here's How We Can Make it Happen

The only thing standing between us and real health care for all Americans are some senators and their industry friends. Time for battle.
 
 
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What's the one thing standing in the way of decent health care for all Americans? The U.S. Senate -- with help from the insurance industry lobby, of course.

As Congress debates health care reform, there has been no shortage of bickering, partisan pot shots and hollow accusations about "socializing" America's health care system. But the harem of institutional myths the right has summoned to maintain its bulging interests isn't seducing the majority of Americans, who know just how broken that system really is.

Our health care model, which at last count was leaving over 47 million Americans uninsured and millions more with poor care, is in dire need of radical reform.

Last year, the United States ranked horribly in a study of deaths that could have been prevented by timely access to health care. Conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the report found that of the 19 participating countries, France, Japan and Australia scored the highest. The U.S. was last.

"It is notable that all countries have improved substantially except the U.S.," concluded Ellen Nolte, lead author of the study.

As if that weren't enough, the World Health Organization recently ranked the U.S. system 37th in the world (one spot below Costa Rica and one above Slovenia, in case you were curious). Our life expectancy hovers at the dismal 24 spot, sandwiched between Israel and Cyprus.

What many of the countries that continue to score higher than us in these rankings have in common is universal access to health care. President Barack Obama has been vocal in his support for a public option -- an alternative that would allow all citizens access to a system like Medicaid; but congressional Republicans and some "centrist Democrats," caving to special interest groups like the insurance industry lobby, have been eager to mire the path.

Robert L. Borage, co-director of the Campaign For America's Future, explains: "The insurance lobby is unleashing the scare campaign. A strong bill will pass the House. But at this point, too many senators are still standing in the way."

It's time for the American people to make sure their voices ring louder than special interest groups. This is not just an issue of altruism -- affordable health care for everyone is in the economic interests of the country. "We now spend nearly 50 percent more on health care per capita than any other country, with mediocre results," Borage wrote.

Journalist Robert Parry helps illustrate the same problem in article of his own:

For a nation facing multiple fiscal crises -- all complicated by the costs of health care -- one might think that the most sure thing in the health care debate would be to allow a cost-saving public option, which as President Barack Obama says would help keep private health insurers "honest" regarding their promises to trim waste and control premiums.

According to a New York Times/CBS poll, that point is obvious to 72 percent of the American people who favor "offering everyone a government-administered health insurance plan like Medicare that would compete with private health insurance plans."

The American people want a public option, and it's up to concerned citizens like you to learn more about the issues surrounding Obama's plan. We must ensure that no more Americans die because of corporate bureaucracy. Here are five places you can go to learn more and take action.

Health Care For America Now

Health Care For America Now and the Institute for America's Future recently teamed up to produce a useful, state-by-state report on health care affordability. The report indicates that although health care costs in America have increased by 120 percent in the last nine years, wages have only gone up 29 percent. The result is a growing failure to stay insured among Americans who had been struggling to make their meager paychecks meet medical costs. As many as 52 million people could be uninsured next year, the study claims.

 
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