Maybe answers are over rainbow

By Dr. Kathlene S. Waller
Fort Collins Coloradoan, May 6, 2010

Dear Auntie Em,

As I was just telling Toto a few days ago we're sure not in Kansas anymore. We've noticed that things are very strange when it comes to health-care reform here in the land of Oz.

First of all, there is the Tin Man. He's a Republican, and he sure could use a heart. President Obama extended his hand in a gesture of bipartisanship, but the Tin Man took his little ax and chopped the president's hand right off!

He didn't offer any good ideas himself, just tried to weaken any potential legislation and then voted against it anyway. He also said that he wants the president to fail. Can you imagine? He didn't care about people suffering and dying because they can't afford health care; he just wanted to obstruct everything for the sake of politics. I hope he is able to find a heart soon.

Then there's the Cowardly Lion. He's a Democrat, and he could definitely use some courage. He was so afraid to stand up to the health-care industry that he didn't even consider the best solution to the whole health-care mess: a single-payer financing system.

It doesn't take ruby slippers to understand that a single-payer system is the best way to assure that every person in this country has access to quality health care, while managing costs and saving billions of dollars. But even while controlling Congress and the White House, he was so cowardly that he took single payer "off the table" at the beginning, starting the discussion with a much weaker public option that was later compromised away.

Most remarkable of all is the Scarecrow, who doesn't have a brain. He is the loud, ill-informed segment of the American public that is opposed to any government involvement, while ignoring the fact that Medicare is a government-run financing system which has provided health care to the oldest and sickest members of our society for more than 45 years.

He can't seem to understand that having health insurance is not the same as having access to affordable health care, and that for-profit health insurance companies must do everything they can to deny care to sick people in order to maximize profits for shareholders.

Medicare is a single-payer system that could be improved and extended to all Americans from cradle to grave, but unfortunately, any mention of graves makes the poor Scarecrow worry about death panels since those flying monkeys in the right-wing media spread so many lies about health-care reform. It would sure be helpful if the Scarecrow could find a brain.

I was told to follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, and I finally figured out that they were solid-gold bricks, leading to a city the color of greenbacks.

I should have known, since I found the Wizard of Oz behind a curtain of campaign contributions. And guess what? The wizard was the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies who wrote the health-care bill and stand to profit greatly from its implementation.

After our long and turbulent journey, the final legislation turned out to be mostly just smoke and mirrors!

Well, we've been through quite a storm. Unfortunately, I guess real reform still lies somewhere over the rainbow ...

Love, Dorothy