Healthcare forum held In Pinellas County

12/30/08 Concetta DeLuco
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In response to Barack Obama’s request for citizen input in regard to fixing the healthcare system, forums were held in Pinellas County on Sunday and Monday. Yesterday, citizens gathered in Palm Harbor to discuss some of the current problems.

In a town hall-style meeting, citizens met at the Palm Harbor Activities Center to share their experiences with the existing healthcare system and debate Obama’s plans for universal healthcare.

Lee Moise, the guest speaker, discussed some of Obama’s future goals and said the main problems with today’s healthcare is the expensive cost, the enormous number of Americans that are uninsured and the lack of our nation’s investment in public health and prevention of chronic, yet curable diseases.

Obama’s proposed system is intended to offer affordable and accessible healthcare to all, without implementing a government-run system with higher taxes or continuing to allow insurance companies to run the system. Instead, there will be more opportunities and programs for people without insurance, as well the option for those who are insured to keep their private insurers and save $2,500 a year.

Presently, U.S. healthcare costs more than $7,000 per capita, which is twice as much as the other industrialized nations that have universal government funded healthcare.

Beverly Beck, a Canadian, said Americans should not believe the lies that insurance companies are feeding people because a universal healthcare system can and does work.

Nearly 60 million Americans have job-based insurance, yet, with the ever growing rate of unemployment, for every 1 percent increase, more than 1 million people will become uninsured. Obama’s proposed system is intended to strengthen employer coverage. However, Sandy Stolzman, an RN and dual citizen with Canada, said she fears a universal healthcare system will cause America’s economy to collapse.

Of every dollar that goes toward healthcare, one third is used for insurance bureaucracy and paperwork and only 4 cents is spent on prevention and public health. However, with Obama’s healthcare system, $350 billion can be saved per year, Moise said. And with the government already paying physicians and other carriers a lot of money for programs like Medicare and Medicaid, Moise said, a better healthcare system would be more affordable.

Lola Beevims, a former pastor, became unemployed after recently being diagnosed with cancer. However, after being misdiagnosed several times, she said she is ineligible for Medicaid and cannot afford the tests to receive a proper diagnosis. Beevims said she said she fears everyday that passes without receiving necessary treatment, but believes Obama’s program will change her situation. During one of the debates, Obama said that healthcare is a right, an idea Beevims echoed.

A beside nurse at a Morton plant hospital, Peggy Bowen said one of the main problems in America’s healthcare system lies in the staffing at hospitals. She said most of the time nurses are expected to care for too many patients at the same time, which leads to poorer service. However, Bowen said the real problem with healthcare is the American people.

President-elect Obama, who takes office on Jan. 20, will help pay for healthcare reform by rolling back Bush tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 annually and retaining the estate tax at its 2009 level.

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