What’s in it for Peoria in health care reform?

So, President Obama spent his press conference the other night trying to convince America that health care reform is essential and important for everyone. The New York Times reports that he had mixed results. I don’t think that’s too unexpected. It just illustrates how critical health care is to people’s lives and sense of security and well-being. Nobody wants to lose what they have.

But it’s important to keep in mind the alternative to health care reform. Steven Pearlstein from the other day in the Washington Post:

Among the range of options for health-care reform, there’s one that is sure to raise your taxes, increase your out-of-pocket medical expenses, swell the federal deficit, leave more Americans without insurance and guarantee that wages will remain stagnant.

That’s the option of doing nothing, letting things continue to drift as they have for the past two decades as we continue to search in vain for the perfect plan that would let everyone have everything they want and preserve everything they already have while getting someone else to pay for it.

By the way, President Obama seemed to lift these words straight into his presentation, or Pearlstein got it from talking to the administration. From a CBS transcript:

Just a broader point — if somebody told you that there is a plan out there that is guaranteed to double your health care costs over the next 10 years, that’s guaranteed to result in more Americans losing their health care, and that is by far the biggest contributor to our federal deficit. I think most people would be opposed to that. Well, that’s the status quo. That’s what we have right now.

But even that’s a bit abstract. Now, we have a concrete example of what can happen to people in Peoria without expanded health insurance, and from a medical system no less. From the Peoria Journal Star we learn that OSF Healthcare System is freezing wages and cutting compensation. Spokesperson Jim Farrell tells us why:

Farrell said the changes are in response to a dramatic increase in uninsured patients being served at the hospital amid high unemployment and a struggling economy.

So, at least in this case, a lack of universal health insurance means that OSF employees go without raises, lose bonuses, and lose paid vacation days.

As for everybody else, take a look at David Leonhardt’s great piece in the New York Times the other day trying to come up with numbers for how much everyone is overpaying for American medical care.

And to finish on a Peoria note, a (supposed) native son is featured in an article in the Onion!

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