Rev. Al Sharpton's Weekly Blog
The United States of America is undeniably and unequivocally the most dominant and industrialized nation in the world. It’s no wonder that countless people still flock to our borders with the hopes of attaining further economic opportunities, emboldened livelihoods and an overall advancement of their quality of life.
Now, imagine their shock and utter dismay when they soon discover that this mighty country that leads the way in development and democracy somehow leaves 47 million of it’s inhabitants behind when it comes to adequate health care. And that in the last few years alone, the astronomical number of uninsured Americans has risen by the hundreds of thousands – and that’s most hundreds of thousands of innocent children. What is the possible justification or explanation? How can a country that is a beacon of inspiration serve as such a terrible example of caring for the health of its people? The truth is plain and simple: pure greed.
The U.S. healthcare industry currently costs about $2.5 trillion annually, according to most studies. Our privatized insurance premiums are doubling nearly every nine years, while American wages have remained relatively stagnant, and in many cases, depreciated. We spend about 50% more than any other industrialized nation on health care, and yet 60% of the 1.5 million filing for bankruptcy this year will do so due to health care costs. What many Americans may not even realize is that even if they are the lucky ones to have insurance coverage, they are virtually one illness away from financial ruin. With loopholes in coverage, all it takes is one long-term sickness for someone’s entire life savings to be diminished, his or house foreclosed on and a lifelong burden of debt to accrue.
President Obama made a vow to the American people early during his campaign that he would once and for all reform our health care system. An ongoing battle since the days of Harry Truman, health care modification is not only long overdue, but a concept that cannot be used as a partisan bickering point. Access to health care is a fundamental basic human right that should be guaranteed to each and every American. It is inconceivable that other countries provide free/public care to their citizens and yet we continue to fail our own citizenry is this most vital of services. By receiving routine check-ups, access to the best doctors and hospitals, advanced screenings and an overall maintenance of their well being, people not only lead more productive lives, but society as a whole advances. A healthier populace undoubtedly produces a more functional workforce, economy and environment.
After only a few months in office, President Obama has remained committed to his word and focused on passing a health care plan that includes a public option. Taking his well-researched and well-crafted push for change to the people, he has conducted town hall meetings, press conferences and is demanding a health care reform bill on his desk by this October. Having the ability to chose from a public option will not only give people choices similar to those that Federal employees and Congress members have, but will also drive down the overall cost of health care. And by implementing a graduated tax on individuals making more than $280,000 and couples making more than $350,000, this proposed legislation won’t result in any tax increases or burdens on the majority of Americans who are already feeling the pinch in this tough economy.
It is an atrocity that there are folks in this great nation that never see a doctor or simply die because they cannot afford one. We need to execute some serious changes in our system, for reform isn’t a luxury; it is a necessity. I believe the Obama administration is moving toward that end, so we must unanimously support him.