Listening to Brian Lehrer on WNYC always makes me intrigued, then shocked, and by the end I’m outraged and my hands are trembling. This time: A discussion on Medicare changes proposed in Congress and I realize we have SEGREGATED health care in America. For the poor, a public system: underfunded clinics on the verge of closing down, public insurance refused by specialists, facing budget cuts, uncertainty, and constant threats from Congress which not even Obama can quell. And for the 1%, a private system: “boutique” clinics on Park Avenue, charging exorbitant prices, immediate, specialized care of the highest standard, inflating health care costs for the nation, numerous unnecessary tests done because, hey, money ain’t a thang, hand-picking their clients based on ability to pay, and whenever Congress begins to even murmur about limiting their costs or charging additional fees to save the public programs from bankruptcy, private practice lobbyists squash the argument in the name of creating jobs.
And this sounds exactly like the parallel economies that exist in the developing world, two prices for rice or tourist trinkets, two levels of quality in house construction, drinking water, neighborhood safety. Those with a dollar will always live well, no matter where, no matter how. But the test of our societies are how we support those of us who cannot build our own private mansions and cities, filter water in our own backyards, and cannot pay away our heart disease.
And I slightly begin to fear the future.