By Ivan Marte
Ivan Marte is the former Chairman of the Rhode Island GOP Hispanic Assembly and is currently a member of the Cranston Diversity Committee in the State of Rhode Island.
Disliking the tone and direction of the healthcare debate, as it concerns people of color, Mr. Marte shares his viewpoint in the following guest post.
Coincidentally, Mr. Marte's post appears on the day when the largest African-American and Latino organizations in the nation have formally announced a joint campaign called Health Equity for All.
The purpose of the multimedia campaign is to "make certain that the voices of people of color are heard, and heeded, as the health care reform debate enters its final, critical days."
Of all the manipulative statements declared in the heated healthcare reform debate in Washington, and at town halls all over the nation, the most damaging are those by some of our notable senators who purposely exaggerate and make unfounded statements about healthcare coverage to intimidate and create the confusion that now sorrowfully exists with the issue.
I imagine that the rest of the world is looking at us and wondering why a government would fight from keeping its own people healthy since they discovered long ago that a healthy nation is a nation on the road to a healthy recovery.
One thing we know for sure about this healthcare debate is that this Senate has yet to come up with a better plan. They have challenged the current healthcare plan proposed to them without offering a solution, or at the least, a new idea to make the healthcare plan more attractive. Rather, the strategy seems to be: "Let's all reject the healthcare reform measures now and keep finding fault with it until the term of this President is over."
The people of this nation are either very patient or very naÃ¯ve because we have been waiting for over twenty-five years for healthcare reform.
What bothers me the most is that all of those public servants we elected into Congress, entrusting them with our well-being and safeguarding our rights and equality, are the same people who allowed the insurance companies to increase their premiums 131 percent since 1999.
According to Senator Max Baucus' healthcare plan, part of his proposal is that consumers would be able to shop and compare insurance plans in a new purchasing exchange. Medicaid would be expanded, and caps would be placed on patients' yearly health care costs. The plan would be paid for with $507 billion in cuts to government health programs.
As it is now, an individual with no knowledge of healthcare coverage or the full extent of his medical needs is at the mercy of unscrupulous insurance agents.
As a life and healthcare producer myself, I was once referred to a situation between an insurance agent and a widow with two young children whereby the agent's only intention was to convince the widow to cancel a perfectly good policy just so he could sell a new one and profit from the commission.
This practice is but another way for dishonest insurance representatives to secure more commissions while keeping the consumer unaware of what their true needs are for coverage.
The National Coalition on Health Care reported that healthcare spending continues to rise at a rapid rate forcing businesses to cut back on health insurance coverage and forcing many families to cut back on basic necessities such as food and electricity and, in some cases, shelters and homes.
Experts agree that our health care system is riddled with inefficiencies, excessive administrative expenses, inflated prices, poor management and inappropriate care, waste and fraud.
These problems increase the cost of medical care associated with government health programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and health insurance for employers and workers and affect the security of families.
If you are like me, you are probably thinking, OK let's see how we can identify the problem and use every resource available in this country, which by the way is a lot more than other developed nations, to resolve this problem.
For example, we know that over 54 million people under 65-years-old are without healthcare and that between 2008-2010 it's expected to increase to 66 million, because of the effects of the recession and the nearly seven million Americans who lost their health insurance coverage due to the new wave of unemployment.
Faced with such a crisis on the horizon, it's imperative that our country's leaders pass a healthcare plan. Yet hope dwindles when some of the very leaders, who will decide who gets affordable healthcare and who doesn't, seem to be doing their very best to maintain the growing healthcare gap in this country.
It's not the kind of situation representative of a true or healthy democracy.
(Editor's note: Resigning from the GOP because he disapproved with Rep. Wilson's "You Lie" remark during the President's joint Congressional address about healthcare, Mr. Marte writes Latina Lista that he still vigorously believes that Rep. Wilson's behavior was an "uncivilized act" that was racially motivated and should never have been tolerated in Congress. For that reason, Mr. Marte plans to demand this week that Rep. Wilson resign his position.)