Thursday, August 27, 2009

If you're not with us, are you against us?

If you’re not with us, are you against us?

Where do Louisiana Democrats stand on healthcare reform?

Why are members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation having such a difficult time either supporting President Obama’s healthcare reform initiative, or at least supporting an alternative that effectively directly addresses the deadly healthcare circumstances in Louisiana?

For some of the more fortunate around the country, healthcare reform is more a question of only resources: how do we build a sustainable system that gives everyone the right to healthcare coverage and access to quality, affordable healthcare? How do we break free from the economically unsustainable system of healthcare that while profitable for healthcare insurers, will eventually bankrupt us all.?

But in Louisiana, the stakes are much higher. . . it’s a question of life and death for some Louisiana family every day.

No one can deny that Louisiana is the pitiful poster child for healthcare reform.

Just a few of the more compelling circumstances which cost the lives every day in Louisiana that our congressional leadership is apparently unwilling to address:

  • Louisiana consistently has among the worst medical outcomes of any state;
    § 50th in deaths from diabetes;
    § 50th in breast cancer deaths;
    § 49th in infant mortality;
    § 46th in overall cancer deaths
    § 48th in deaths from colorectal cancer;
    § 42nd in deaths from stroke and cerebrovascular diseases.
  • Overall we rank 46th in access to healthcare and healthcare outcomes (according to the non partisan Commonwealth Fund State Scorecard on Health System Performance, 2007). 61 or 64 parishes in Louisiana are medically underserved and 54 are classified as poor in terms of healthcare access)

If this is not compelling reason for our congressional delegation to support some kind of effective healthcare reform, perhaps nothing is.

  • Louisiana has the fifth highest rate of uninsured in the country with a third of African Americans uninsured, more than half of Latinos (legally in the country) uninsured.
  • And Louisiana ranks fifth to last in employer sponsored health insurance.

Because of these inhumanely high levels of uninsured, the dearth of employers who make healthcare available to their workers and the poor penetration and lack of competition among insurers and managed care organizations, Louisiana needs a public option or some other effective means to give our people real choice when it comes to quality, affordable healthcare coverage available to our citizens. An “exchange” composed of the effective oligopoly of Louisiana’s private healthcare insurers and managed care organizations is no real choice at all. We need a public option to protect us from the healthcare insurance industry that has in recent months showered Congress with millions in campaign cash.

Time and time again, hundreds of thousands of working poor folks and African American voters had placed their loyalty and their hopes in Democrats in elections for Congress in Louisiana.

Trust, especially when it comes to government and politics, is a finite virtue.

It’s time for Louisiana’s congressional delegation to stand with us, and not with the entrenched moneyed interests that share responsibility for the dire healthcare circumstances people in Louisiana suffer and die from everyday.

If you’re not with us, are you against us?

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