These attempts to block reasonable universal health care do not reflect traditional American values. Neither the Declaration of Independence nor the United States Constitution guarantees these groups the right to make obscene profits on the backs of the poorest among us.
Reasonable health care cannot be measured in terms of dollars and sense. How much is a life worth? How much would you pay for the health of your family?
Four health care issues require immediate attention: prevention; balancing costs/benefits; standardizing treatment; capping universal malpractice liabilities.
Even though Americans enjoy the greatest health care system in the world, we rank 50th in average lifespan among all nations. Why? Poor diet and exercise. Any viable health care reform must account for Americans' lack of discipline regarding diet and exercise.
President Obama must appoint a diet and exercise czar to get a handle on this important issue. He has already created more than 20 czars to regulate everything from automobile design to CEO salaries. Appointing one more is a no-brainer.
Fast food has become the bane of obese Americans. Sociologists agree Americans lack the self-discipline to spend their food dollars wisely. The diet/exercise czar should implement immediately a fee structure for all unhealthy food served commercially.
Imposing a $10 fee per fried meal would not only prohibit the obese poor from purchasing life-threatening meals, but would also raise revenue to fund education programs for our most obese residents.
Diet is only half of the equation. Under the diet/exercise czar's supervision, local law enforcement must police community-wide exercise programs. Any resident who fails to comply with universal daily exercise requirements established by the czar must pay penalties. Residents who organize and lead exercise programs should be recognized as heroes by the national media.
America also needs a cost/benefit treatment czar to establish universal guidelines capping costs of treatment. Americans pour billions of health care dollars down the drain every year extending lives of those who otherwise would have died from natural causes. Americans are no better than anybody else. We should not expect to extend our lives or health just because we have the money and technology to do so.
The cost/benefit treatment czar should also establish standard treatments for common maladies like heart attacks, strokes and cancer. Any health care provider who goes beyond such standardized treatments in the name of individualized contingencies should pay penalties for failing to follow federally mandated protocol. God created us all equal, and none of us should receive "special" care just because a health provider can make a little more money by ordering more tests or treatments.
Finally, the Obama administration should guarantee all health care, much like the president guaranteed all car warranties for those companies receiving bailout dollars. If a health care provider makes a mistake threatening the quality of life or life itself, the provider should not be held accountable. Providers are just doing their jobs the best they know how.
The federal government should pay for any damages suffered. This is one area the American health care industry can save thousands of billions of dollars formerly garnered by ambulance-chasing lawyers. Besides saving billions in legal fees, such regulations will spare TV viewers those awful ads exploiting terminally ill patients.
Common sense dictates Washington must pass health care reform immediately. The United States of American has the greatest health care system in the world.
Contact your senators and congressperson, and tell them we want to change our health care system before it's too late. Together, we can do it! Yes we can!
Daniel L. Gardner of Starkville, Miss., is an independent columnist.