The Senate Finance Committee met this week to discuss ideas for lowering the number of Americans without health insurance. Democratic Senator Ken Salazar from Colorado mentioned that regardless of what ideas congress comes up with to reform our broken health care system, the “ominous cloud” of the government bail out for the financial industry “may end up creating huge challenges for us as we try to deal with health care reform.”
This is absolutely true. Health care reform hasn’t been in the media as much as it was a year ago, and the overall economic woes are overshadowing the problems faced by the millions of Americans with no health insurance and no realistic access to health care. While a government bail out for the financial industry might be necessary in order to keep our economy from falling apart, a government bail out for the health care industry isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. Regardless of the final dollar amount that gets spent to prop up our financial system, it’s going to be a major blow to the government bank account, and other projects will have to move to the back burner for a while.
I understand that without government assistance, the foundation of our entire economic system is in jeopardy. While taxpayers and lawmakers might not like the idea of spending hundreds of billions of dollars to fix things, most of us also don’t like the idea of pushing our money down the street in a wheelbarrow. So it’s likely that some sort of assistance package is going to be approved. I also understand that the issues facing Wall Street, if not corrected, will impact just about everyone in the US. The problems in our health care system don’t impact as many people, but 46 million Americans without health insurance is not a small number. In the case of the Wall Street mess, there are a lot of very powerful companies that are facing serious problems without a government rescue. But in the health care sector, the major companies are sound. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most profitable overall. Hospitals and health insurance carriers are surviving. They have to do a lot of juggling to keep up with the rapidly increasing price of health care, but they’re making do. In the health care crisis, it’s individual families that are hurting. People who can’t afford health insurance, or can’t qualify for medically underwritten policies. I have to wonder if those people were as powerful as the Wall Street executives who drove their companies into the ground through unscrupulous lending practices, would the government be hashing out a health care bailout too?