An Appeal for a Real and Comprehensive Approach to Health Care Reform

While the US may be moving one step closer to health care reform with the passage of the Baucus Bill by the Senate Finance Committee, it is clear that a very important element in the health care discussion is being overlooked. What is making Americans so sick?

Health care costs wouldn't be so high and there wouldn't be so much concern about the cost of a public health care plan if so many Americans weren't so sick.

Right?

On Monday, the New York Times reported on the hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic waste being dumping into the nation's water supply by coal-fired power plants. In the article, "Cleansing the Air at the Expense of the Waterways", Charles Duhigg reported:

"For years, residents here complained about the yellow smoke pouring from the tall chimneys of the nearby coal-fired power plant, which left a film on their cars and pebbles of coal waste in their yards. Five states — including New York and New Jersey — sued the plant’s owner, Allegheny Energy, claiming the air pollution was causing respiratory diseases and acid rain.

So three years ago, when Allegheny Energy decided to install scrubbers to clean the plant’s air emissions, environmentalists were overjoyed. The technology would spray water and chemicals through the plant’s chimneys, trapping more than 150,000 tons of pollutants each year before they escaped into the sky.

But the cleaner air has come at a cost. Each day since the equipment was switched on in June, the company has dumped tens of thousands of gallons of waste water containing chemicals from the scrubbing process into the Monongahela River, which provides drinking water to 350,000 people and flows into Pittsburgh, 40 miles to the north.

'It’s like they decided to spare us having to breathe in these poisons, but now we have to drink them instead,' said Philip Coleman, who lives about 15 miles from the plant and has asked a state judge to toughen the facility’s pollution regulations. 'We can’t escape.'

Even as a growing number of coal-burning power plants around the nation have moved to reduce their air emissions, many of them are creating another problem: water pollution. Power plants are the nation’s biggest producer of toxic waste, surpassing industries like plastic and paint manufacturing and chemical plants, according to a New York Times analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data."

If the air pollution caused by coal-fired plants has already been linked to chronic asthma and COPD, just imagine the result of ingesting large quantities of the same toxins in your drinking water.

In an article for Care2.com, Melissa Breyer reported on the link between pesticides and Parkinson's Disease.

A study by eminent oncologists Dr. Leonard Hardell and Dr. Mikael Eriksson of Sweden concludes that there is a link between "the world’s biggest selling herbicide, glyphosate (commonly known as Roundup, marketed by Monsanto), to non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a form of cancer."

The following video clip is from the documentary "The World According to Monsanto" which took an in-depth look into the bio-chemical companies impact on agriculture, the environment and health.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRVmknggq8s&feature=player_embedded



And while we're discussing Monsanto we certainly can't forget their efforts to bury the truth about rBGH (bovine growth hormone) in milk.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL1pKlnhvg0&feature=player_embedded

There are many, many more instances of links between toxic waste and disease but I think that you get the picture.

Corporations have been dumping toxins in the water, air and food supply with impunity. The American public has grown sicker which has in turn driven up health care costs. Health care insurers are profiting from this illness. And now the corporate lobbyists and insurance industry spin machine are waging a full scale assault on health care reform.

Dear Members of Congress and President Obama,

if you really want to reform health care please take a comprehensive approach to this problem. How can you not pass health care reform with a public option when the government agencies which were supposed to protect the environment, agriculture and public health have failed us so miserably.

The previously cited New York Time article shows that the Riverhead International Coal Plant in Macon GA has been cited for 124 violations, paid $0 in fines and hasn't been inspected since 1979. 1979 - 30 years ago.

Let the teabaggers and birthers rant, rave and spread lies about "death panels" but don't give in to the insanity.

Americans can diet, exercise, visit the doctor and take all the pills we want. But if the biochemical and power industries continue to poision the air, water & food, we will grow sicker and sicker. Health care costs will both bankrupt consumers and increase the federal deficit. And in the end, we will die. Those without health care coverage will just die much quicker.

Congress must pass health care with a public option and if you want to reduce costs take on the corporations that have contributed to this crisis. Fine them. Shame them if you have to. Expose them for the greedy, heartless profiteers that they have become.

How dare Wellpoint sue the State of Maine to ensure that it is guaranteed a profit!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R62FZLJVEcw&feature=player_embedded



Enough is enough.

originally posted on Pam's Coffee Conversation & cross-posted on Political Voices of Women

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