I believe in the basic decency, fairness and ingenuity of the American public to solve social problems. I believe our sense of fair play and ingenuity are the only things that can solve our most endemic problem: our health care system.
I know this is possible because I have seen us move from a segregated society to a society that recognizes all people are equal regardless of color. I have seen us move from a society that prevents women from having credit in their own right, to one that prohibits discrimination based on gender and marital status. My school in Virginia was the first in the state to be integrated and I was denied credit when married, even though I was working while my husband was in school.
We Americans hold a deep-seated sense of fairness. We believe in a level playing field. “It’s just not fair” resonates with nearly every American.
Have we addressed all our societal inequities? No. Do we keep trying? Absolutely.
Health care must be our next victory.
Our health care system is every bit as inequitable as our voting and property laws were. Your health benefits depend on your job, your age, your income, your gender, your health status and your race. There is no level playing field. Regulations vary state by state and benefits vary employer by employer. It’s like having one football field with 1000 teams playing by 1000 different rules, with no umpire.
Yet, when you ask Americans what they want in a health care system, they will tell you the same thing: “We want everyone to be covered. We want a basic benefit package for all Americans. We want to focus on prevention over high tech cures. We want everyone to pay–individuals, employers and government. We don’t want totally government health care or completely personal responsibility health care. Health care is a shared responsibility. We need to take care of our children and our seniors and others who cannot help themselves. We need to be able to see any licensed health care professional and to get rid of the waste and paperwork.”
With health care now as our top domestic issue, people want constructive change. Yet, that change is held hostage by partisan politics.
We are hamstrung by an inequitable health care system that hurts us when we are vulnerable, that bankrupts us when we are sick, and that is mired in rigid ideological solutions.
We are better than this. I know we have the savvy in this country to fix our health care system. We know because we have been asking.
Our challenge is Lincoln’s caution: “A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand.” We must now reach out to each other. The pundits and the politicians will try to pit us against each other. We will only win if we come together in fairness, good faith and hope.
For this I believe.
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