Why we need a National Health Plan

By Paul L. Burnley
Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer, Sept. 12, 2013

The objection to a national health plan by many of our lawmakers is similar to the reaction years ago to the Social Security program. It was seen as a tax-imposed on the public by the government. It was thought to be a struggle between the conservatives and liberal factions of government when, in reality, the only people affected by these programs are the poor, those who are at the bottom of the political spectrum.

Many believe a national health program is also a tax imposed on the public by the government. When the Social Security program began, there were those who said, "Why should the government take money from my paycheck to save for my retirement? I can save that money myself. How do I know I will live to retirement?" Today, millions are able to live and maintain themselves because of this program.

As for a national health insurance program, it will affect those who are not able to afford health insurance. If you are in an income bracket where you are able to pay for any and all medical emergencies, I can understand your reluctance about a national health program. But the majority of the residents of North Carolina are not in that income bracket.

Brokering the middle

I am not in favor of the government running the lives of its citizens; however, in some cases there must be an overseer that is fair and reasonable. If some issues that affect the general population were left to individual states, as they were years ago, they would be abused. That's especially so in some Southern states, where the "good old boy" process was upheld. I can imagine the abuse that would have taken place had certain states been in control of the Social Security program.

Medical bankruptcy

The lack of medical insurance is the cause of many economical disasters, not only for individuals, but for communities. Many lose time from their jobs, because of illnesses that would be treated if medical insurance were available.

The majority of bankruptcies in this country are caused because of medical bills that people are not able to pay, due to the lack of medical insurance. If there were a national health program, many of these problems would not exist.

There are those who say, well, now we have Medicare. That should take care of most of the medical problems. This only covers those over 65 years of age, or those unable to work. This leaves the majority of the public out of the loop. This is why,when there are any free medical services offered by groups trying to address this situation, they are overwhelmed by people needing medical attention.

I am not saying that all elements of our lives should be controlled by the government, but when it comes to a large segment of the population, the decision should not be left to local or state authorities. In many cases opinions are governed by political, racial and social attitudes and choices. Had Social Security been administered by the states, millions of people whose income is derived from Social Security would not have received it.

Paul L. Burnley is a retired newspaper writer and editor and a former member of the Observer's Community Advisory Board.