From The San Francisco Chronicle:
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Having already set his affairs in order, James Verone calmly walked into an RBC bank in North Carolina and committed his first crime in his 59 years on this planet. Verone handed the teller a note that read "This is a bank robbery. Please only give me one dollar," took the dollar from the terrified clerk, and sat down on a couch in the bank's lobby.
"'I'll be sitting right over there in the chair waiting for the police," Verone told the bank teller. And wait he did. Police arrived moments later and apprehended him, hauling him off to the jail cell he so desperately wanted to enter.
No, James Verone isn't crazy. He isn't a career criminal. He didn't rob the bank to get drugs or booze. He didn't do it to get attention or on a lark. James Verone walked into that bank and committed a felony because going to jail was the only way he could receive the health care he needed to survive.
Verone is one man, but he could really be any one of us. He's 59 and well past the point of finding a new career. He was laid off from his 17-year job and, with unemployment hardly a survivable wage, took the first job that came his way. He developed a growth on his chest - the sort of medical condition that could be life-threatening - and earned two ruptured disks in his back, along with problems with his left foot.
After depleting his life savings and realizing he had, literally, nowhere else to turn, Verone committed the crime, hoping he could get the medical care that he so desperately needs.
This is what America has come to? Otherwise honest folks, with no where to turn in life, have to resort to fake-robbing a bank with the hopes they'll be arrested so they can receive medical care?
There is absolutely no reason for an allegedly civilized country, particularly one as wealthy as America, to pass the buck on providing health care for everyone. Yes, everyone: the employed and the unemployed; the sick and the healthy; old and young.
Before you scream "oh no, socialism!!!" stop and consider what you mean by that. How do socialist systems pay for health care? Taxes are collected from businesses and citizens, and a portion of those taxes go to cover the health care costs of everyone in the plan - in other words, everyone in the country.
How do health insurance systems pay for health care? Premiums are collected from businesses and employees, and a portion of those premiums go to cover the health care costs of everyone in the plan.
The difference between the two? Socialized care costs less (because it has a much larger pool of people to draw from), covers everyone at all times, and prevents people from purposefully committing crimes to get treated. Insurance systems ARE socialized systems, except they don't cover everyone and allow a corporation - and entity that neither receives nor provides the medical treatment - to skim a profit off the top.
In what sort of twisted mind is that the rational way to provide medical care? It's not like the marketplace can rationally set prices for health care. A dying man has no ability to check prices and compare services before deciding which hospital he'll take his heart attack to.
Chemotherapy cannot wait for patients to decide if they want to upgrade to the premium service that ABC Cancer, Inc is offering, or if they'll settle for the basic package. Health care is not cable TV and cannot be solved with these over-simplified market solutions. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar, a fraud, or a charlatan - and perhaps a moron. (I would bet on "moron".)
At some point, Americans need to grow up and accept that providing single-payer, government-paid health care for the entire country is not only mandatory - it is the only morally acceptable choice.
[READ THE ORIGINAL SFGATE ARTICLE]