The American Congress has just voted, historically, to introduce a Universal Health Insurance scheme for all Americans, and it is anticipated that the Senate, eventually, will do likewise. This is a wonderful time for Americans to be American; especially poor, traditionally deprived Americans. What are the implications, here, for the average, Joe-blow citizen of that neighbor of ours to the north? This vote means that the United States Federal Government, under President Barak Obama, is well on its way to ensuring, once and for all, that every single American would not have to worry or suffer or die, anymore, for lack of being provided with the very best medical care available in their rich country. Included in the bill, I noted with great interest, is a compulsory clause which mandates that children, to the age of 25 years old, and those in college, will be fully covered. The inference here is that if parents and or guardians cannot afford to cover them, the federal government will. The vote- 220 for with 215 against-brings to mind the struggle which confronted the PLP government , with the FNM in opposition, in its up hill battle to get Legislation, for a similar scheme here at home, passed just before being put out of office in May 2007. Thank God we had a caring and persistent PLP government which, at least, was able to get the legislation on the books (the FNM will dare not repeal it) so that implementation could be done immediately upon, us, taking office, lord willing, in 2012.
President Obama did not cave in to the arguments against the measure, put by America’s elitist, as the PLP did not allow itself to be intimidated by the naysayers here at home. They argued that it would be too expensive; that there would be abuse; that those government programs are never managed properly and therefore are never successful. Well my argument against that argument is this: we should then abandon the current health care system we have in place; and we should abandon National Insurance; and we should discard the social services program and many of the other needful, government- managed, programs which, now, provide essential public services, albeit mediocre, in this nation. The question as to whether or not we can afford the price tag of such a program is a no brainier. We cannot afford not to have comprehensive national health insurance coverage for all our citizens, without exception, much longer.
I am at a loss and quite frankly baffled Mr. /Madam Editor, as to why so much precious time and energy has to be spent, in an effort to convince that other certain segment of our population, that it is right, always, to do the right thing. It cannot be right, Sir/Madam, for a small Nation of 300,000, which prides itself on being a rich little Nation, with a per capita income of around $20,000.00, to credibly argue that we cannot afford universal health care for all our citizens; No way. Even a nine year old child should be able to comprehend that national health insurance for all, when it comes into force will, in effect, only be a huge group insurance plan, which employees of most trade unions; major companies and many smaller ones, in the country, presently participate in; this is no big mystery.
The Free National Movement, when in opposition at the time the Health bill was passed by the country’s parliament, agreed that it should be done and that it was the right time, in 2006, to have done it; so tell me, Hubert Ingraham, what has happened since May 2nd 2007 that caused you to change your mind? I’ll tell you what, I submit, happened; Brent Symonnette, and his Bay Street league of FNM financiers, summoned you and your band to the Board room and read, you, the riot act. They told you that there would be no national health insurance, because they were not about to be burdened with the responsibility of paying the lion’s share for all those hundreds of Bahamians working in their collective employ. Like the puppet you are, Mr. Ingraham, you caved in to your Bay Street puppeteers; you could not, for once in your life, stand up for what you knew, was right for the Bahamian masses. Someone in a speech to a PLP branch gathering recently said, and I repeat it here for emphasis, “We will have to defeat this enemy that doesn’t believe in what is best for our people…. Our people who are hurting; without the basic necessities and who are living in fear of the future,” unquote; and Indeed we must.
The Progressive Liberal Party, on taking office after the next general elections, will introduce this much needed health care package for all our citizens. Members of Parliament, including Mr. Ingraham and Zhivargo Laing, are all covered, right now, with health insurance, paid for by taxes extracted from poor Bahamians, so why can’t these same poor Bahamians, as well, live for a change with the comfort of knowing that they too will no longer have to worry when they or their family members take ill? Presently families allow their loved ones to suffer and die, in too many cases, because they simply cannot afford to see a doctor or access the professional treatment needed. Should we, as a people, continue to tolerate this uncaring, selfish state of affairs in our country? A thousand times no; we must adopt an “All for one and one for all” attitude, no matter what Bay Street says. Ain’t long now Bahamas.
Forrester J Carroll J.P
Freeport, Grand Bahama
13th November 2009.