Everyone's up in arms over the Obama administration's proposed health care overhaul. And while I won't pretend to be totally tuned in on all it's nuances, the biggest concern seems to be the price tag: It costs too much money. It will bankrupt our children. And the level of care will be diminished. Maybe so, but let's back up. This initiative I believe grew out of a well-meaning concern that some 47 or so million people in US can't afford health care. I certainly think it's a noble idea to want everyone in this country to have health insurance and access to the best in health care.
So to those folks who claim we're moving too fast on this, and that the price tag is too high, I say "where were you in the run up to the war with Iraq?" I heard not near the push back to slow down the process in going to war. The Bush administration did a brilliant job in making Congress and nation feel as though this "inevitable" war was needed in the fastest possible terms (before we could blink). Even today, few people debate the continued cost of hanging out in the Middle East. So lest you think I digress, let me get to where I'm going with this.
If we can afford to go to war with Iraq, we can afford to insure all Americans. A quick look at the numbers.
Monthly spending in Iraq in 2008, $12 billion. That's right, $12 billion a month
Cost of deploying one US soldier for one year in Iraq $390,000.
Lost and unaccounted for in Iraq, $9 billion in taxpayer money.
Missing - $1 billion in tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other equipment and services provided to the Iraqi security forces.
Mismanaged & Wasted in Iraq - $10 billion, per Feb 2007 Congressional hearings.
Halliburton Overcharges Classified by the Pentagon as Unreasonable and Unsupported - $1.4 billion
Amount paid to KBR, a former Halliburton division, to supply U.S. military in Iraq with food, fuel, housing and other items - $20 billion.
Portion of the $20 billion paid to KBR that Pentagon auditors deem "questionable or supportable" - $3.2 billion.
The numbers and staggering tragedy have seemingly lulled us into some apathetic stupor. With all the troubles at home including unemployment and the housing crisis, perhaps we can't blame the American public for turning its attention inward.
Bottom line, lets say we take $47 million dollars out of the $900 billion spent or approved for spending in Iraq through the first half of 2009, and give each of the American uninsured $1 million each to put in escrow to pay healthcare premiums for the rest of their lives. Then we take another (number out of the air) $1 billion dollars to pay for the actual healthcare these individuals may need throughout their life. Done. So for about 1/10 of one percent of what we've spent in Iraq, we could have essentially solved the problem of the uninsured in America.
I know there are those who will say it's not that easy. Because that's an easy thing to say.