Tags: bruce dixon, california nurses, co-payments, corporate media, Dennis Kucinich, health, health care, health care reform, health costs, health insurance, health insurance industry, healthcare, healthcare reform, kucinich amendment, lyndon johnson medicare, massachusetts health care, Medicaid, medical costs, medicare, national health, obama health plan, obama plan, private insurance, public option, roger hollander, single payer, uninsured
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The health care debate inside and outside the matrix
by Bruce Dixon
Like just about everything else, your take on the national health care debate depends on whether you’re inside or outside the matrix.
Within the bubble of fake reality blown by corporate media and bipartisan political establishment, the health care news is that theObama Plan is at last making its way through Congress. It’s being fought by greedy private insurance companies, by chambers of commerce, by Republican and some Democratic lawmakers.
Under the Obama plan, we’re told, employers will have to insure their employees or pay into a fund that does it for them. Individuals will be required under penalty of law to buy private insurance policies and for those that can’t afford it or prefer not to use a private insurer there will be something called a “public option.” This “public option, the story goes, is bitterly fought by the bad guys because it will make private insurers accountable by competing with them, forcing them to lower their costs. Both the president’s backers and opponents agree that the whole thing will be fantastically expensive, and the president proposes to fund it with cuts in existing programs like Medicaid which pay for the care of the poorest Americans and a tax on those making more than $300,000, later raised to $1 million a year.
The “public option” has that magic word “public” in it, and that’s reassuring to progressives and to most of the American people. Taxing the rich is a popular idea too. So if you rely on corporate media, the administration, or some of the so-called progressive blogs to identify the players and keep the score, it seems a pretty clear case of President Obama on the side of the angels, battling the greedy insurance companies, Republicans and blue dog Democrats to bring us universal, affordable health care.
That whole picture has about as much reality as the ones the same corporate media and most of the same politicians drew for us about Iraq, 9-11, weapons of mass destruction and some people over there who wanted us to free them. Iraq and the White House were and remain actual places, and there really is a problem called health care. But the places, problems and solutions are very different from the bubble of fake reality blown around them.
What sustains this fake reality is the diligent suppression from public space of any viewpoints, observations or proposals to Obama’s left. As long as the illusion that nobody has a better idea, that the only choice we have is Obama’s way or the Republicans’ way can be maintained, the crooked game can go on.
But bubbles are delicate things. Keeping this one intact requires so many vital topics to be avoided, so many inquiring eyes to be averted, so many fruitful conversations to be squelched that it’s hard to see how the president, the bipartisan establishment and the corporate media can pull it all off.
The real Obama Plan: doesn’t cover the uninsured till 2013, if then.
The first clue that something is deeply wrong with the Obama health care proposal is its timeline. According to a copyrighted July 21 AP story by Ricardo Alfonso-Zaldivar,
“President Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicare law on July 30, 1965, and 11 months later seniors were receiving coverage. But if President Barack Obama gets to sign a health care overhaul this fall, the uninsured won’t be covered until 2013 – after the next presidential election.
“In fact, a timeline of the 1,000-page health care bill crafted by House Democrats shows it would take the better part of a decade – from 2010-2018 – to get all the components of the far-reaching proposal up and running.”
According to a peer reviewed 2009 study in the American Journal of Medicine, 62% of the nation’s 727,167 non-business bankruptcies were triggered by unpayable medical bills in 2007. Most of these had health insurance when they fell ill or were injured, but with loopholes, exclusions, high deductibles and co-payments, or were simply dropped when they got sick. In 2008 that figure was 66% of 934,000 personal bankruptcies and in 2009 it could approach 70% of 1.1 million bankruptcies. And 18,000 Americans die each year because medical care is unaffordable or unavailable. Waiting till 2013 means millions of families will be financially ruined and tens of thousands will die unnecessarily.
If the Johnson administration with no computers back in the sixties could implement Medicare for 45 million seniors in under a year, why does it take three and a half years in the 21st century to cover some, but not all, of America’s fifty million uninsured? And why does the Obama Plan make us wait till after the next presidential election? Politicians usually do popular things and run for election on the resulting wave of approval. Delaying what ought to be the good news of universal and affordable health care for all Americans till two elections down the road is a strong indication that they know the good news really ain’t all that good. And it’s not.
Inside the matrix of TV, the corporate media and on much of the internet, discussion of the Obama plan’s timeline, the human cost of another three years delay, and the comparison with Medicare’s 11 month rollout back in the days before computers are almost impossible to find. We can only wonder why.
The Obama plan is about health insurance, not health care.
As BAR has been reporting since January 2007, the Obama plan is not a health care plan at all, it is a health insurance plan. Based largely upon the failed model in place in Massachusetts since 2006, the Obama plan will require employers to provide coverage or pay a special tax. Everybody not covered by an employer will be required to purchase insurance under penalty of law, in much the same manner as you’re currently required to buy car insurance.
“In my state,” testified Dr. Steffie Woolhandler of the Harvard Medical School last month before Congress, “beating your wife, communicating a terrorist threat and being uninsured all carry $1,000 fines.”
As in Massachusetts, the health insurance plans people are forced to buy will cost a lot and won’t cover much. In a July 20 National Journal article Dr. David Himmelstein says,
“Nearly every day that he is in the clinic, Himmelstein says, he sees a patient who has problems paying for care “despite this reform.’ Some of them had free care before the 2006 law took effect but are now expected to handle co-payments. If you’re not poor enough to get a subsidy, say you’re making $30,000 a year, you’re required to buy a policy that costs about $5,000 a year for the premium and has a $2,000 deductible before it pays for anything. For substantial numbers of people, it’s effectively not coverage,’ Himmelstein said. The policy he described is about the cheapest Massachusetts plan available, according to the Physicians for a National Health Program report, which Himmelstein co-wrote.”
A family of four making under $24,000 a year in Massachusetts gets its insurance premium free, but is still expected to cough up deductibles and co-payments and live with loopholes and exclusions that often deny care to those who need it. And in both the Massachusetts and Obama plans, funds to pay those premiums come out of the budgets of programs like Medicaid that already pay for care for the poorest Ameicans.
The Obama plan’s “public option” is a bait-and-switch scam
A July 21 pnhp.org article titled “Bait and Switch: How the Public Option Was Sold” outlines how the public option is neither public, nor an option.
“Public option” refers to a proposal… that Congress create an enormous “Medicare-like” program that would sell health insurance to the non-elderly in competition with the 1,000 to 1,500 health insurance companies that sell insurance today…
“Hacker (its author) claimed the program, which he called “Medicare Plus” in 2001 and “Health Care for America Plan” in 2007, would enjoy the advantages that make Medicare so efficient – large size, low provider payment rates and low overhead…
“Hacker predicted that his proposed public program would so closely resemble Medicare that it would be able to set its premiums far below those of other insurance companies and enroll at least half the non-elderly population.”
The White House is committed to twisting arms in the both houses of Congress and reconciling the two versions of Democratic bills to emerge from the House and Senate. What emerges will be the Obama plan. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Senate version of the Democrats’ pending health care legislation leaves 33 million uninsured and omits the public option altogether. The House version includes a “public option” estimated to cover only 10-12 million people, a number far too small for it to create price pressure on private insurance companies, while leaving 16 or 17 million uninsured. Instead of setting prices for health care, it will be forced to pay whatever tthe private insurers already pay, and perhaps more.
As private insurers use their marketing muscle to recruit younger, healthier people who’ll pay for but not use their benefits, the public option will be a dumping ground for the customers they don’t want… the middle-aged, the poor, those with pre-existing conditions. And of course the Obama plan’s “public option’ will be managed by contractors from the private insurance industry.
Private insurers spend a third of every health care dollar on non-health related things like bonuses, denial machinery, advertising, lobbying and bad investments. Medicare spends 2 or 3% on administrative overhead. Bush’s “enhanced Medicare” administered by private insurance contractors, spends about 11% on overhead. That’s about what we should expect from the Obama public option. So much for change.
So far, discipline is holding. Nobody in corporate media, the administration, or among Democrats in Washington has gotten round to telling us that the public option has been eviscerated. But its powerful appeal and the awesome power of the word “public” are offered by Obama supporters as the central reasons to shut up, clap harder, and get behind the president on this.
Taxing the rich, paying for health care. How the Obama Plan stacks up against single payer.
Along with being funded by cuts in Medicaid, the Obama plan is supposed to be funded by taxing those who make $300,000 or more per year. That’s not a bad thing. The wealthy don’t pay nearly enough taxes. But the US already spends more on health care than anyplace else on the planet while leaving a greater portion of its population uninsured than anybody.
The Obama plan will not contain costs. It will subsidize the insurance vampires well into the next decade. On the other hand, single payer would eliminate the private insurance industry altogether. In many advanced industrial countries, most of the practices private insurers follow here, such as cherry picking healthy patients while dumping and denying sick ones, are illegal. Why can we do that?
Single payer, according to a study by the California Nurses Association would eliminate 550,000 jobs in private insurance while creating 3.2 million new ones in actual health care. It would be responsible for $100 billion in wages annually and a source of immense tax revenues for local governments.
So is the Obama plan really better than nothing?
The Obama plan seems calculated to buy time for private insurers, to end the health care discussion for a decade or more without solving the health care problem, do so in a way that discredits the very idea of everybody in- nobody out health care. It will leave tens of millions uninsured, a hundred million or more underinsured, and the same parasitic private interests in charge of the American health care system that run it now.
The Obama plan as it now stands requires us to let another 18,000 die for each of the next three years and allow more than a million additional families to be bankrupted by medical expenses before we can judge whether or not the plan is working. It’s easy to imagine Obama partisans telling us in mid 2013 that it’s still too early to be sure.
The Kucinich amendment, which allows the few states wealthy enough to try it the liberty to fashion their own single payer regimes is intended to attract progressives and single payer votes in Congress without breaking the bubble. By itself, it should not be a reason to support this bill.. The wealthiest state in the union is probably California, and it’s handing out IOUs instead of salaries this month. It’s hard to see what would be lost if this health care bill went down in flames, and we started over again next year.
Can he get away with it?
Maybe. Maybe not. If the corporate media and the president can keep discussion of the devilish details to a minimum, if they can silence, co-opt and intimidate the forces to Obama’s left — if they can keep most of the public inside their bubble of fake reality, Barack Obama may achieve his goal of thwarting the reform that most of the American people want — an everybody in, nobody out single payer health care system on the model of Canada or Australia, or Medicare for All. It won’t be close, it won’t be easy, and with nothing to be gained, progressives shouldn’t make it any easier.
Since the president’s success depends mostly on keeping people silent and in the dark, he will probably be unable to mobilize the 13 million phone numbers and email addresses collected during the recent presidential campaign, and now held by OFA, his campaign arm. If an organizing call went out to them, too many would try to read the bill and discuss the options, and such a discussion could easily get out of hand. When OFA called house meetings on health care last December, the most frequently advanced question was why we couldn’t or shouldn’t get a single payer health care system.
Single payer isn’t dead yet. It’s very much alive among Barack Obama’s own supporters. To succeed, he has to bury it alive, to keep them in the bubble, in the dark and quiet, or clapping so loudly they cannot hear themselves or each other think. It’s not over.
© 2009 Black Agenda Report
Health Care Activists Lament Single-Payer Snub May 30, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Health.
Tags: ama, baucus 13, california nurses, green party, health, health care, health care reform, health insurance, health insurance industry, health system, healthcare, insurance industry, max baucus, medicare, national health plan, National Health Program, obama administration, pelosi, pharmaceutical industry, private health insurance, progressive democrats, reform, roger hollander, russell mokhiber, senage finance, single payer, single payer action, single payer now, universal health care, universal healthcare, victoria colliver
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Frustrated by the exclusion of government-financed medical care from the debate to revamp the nation’s troubled health system, advocates of a “single-payer” plan are increasingly turning to demonstrations and civil disobedience as a way to get their message across.
During Senate Finance Committee hearings May 5 and 12 on health reform, 13 doctors, nurses, lawyers and activists stood up to complain that no single-payer proponent had been invited to take part and were arrested for disrupting the proceedings.On Friday in San Francisco, about 200 single-payer proponents held a rally in front of the Federal Building and headed in small groups to Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office to urge the speaker of the House, who was in China, to back single-payer legislation and give its supporters a seat at the table of the health reform debate. The public appeals were part of a series of demonstrations being held in more than 50 U.S. cities over the next few days to encourage lawmakers to enact a single-payer plan.
Some advocates of a nationalized health plan are calling for activists to become even more militant.
“It’s the only way – direct confrontation with the people who are blocking what the majority of the American people want,” said Russell Mokhiber, the founder of the newly formed Single Payer Action.
“It’s about getting in people’s faces and being serious about the fact that 60 Americans are dying every day because of lack of health insurance,” said Mokhiber, who was arrested at the May 5 hearing and arraigned earlier this week in Washington.
Single payer unlikely
Reforming health care has become a focus of the Obama administration, with the president urging Congress to get legislation to his desk by the end of the year that would cover most of the nation’s 47 million uninsured. Whether that will happen remains to be seen, but whatever Congress passes is not likely to come in the form of a single-payer plan.
In a single-payer system, as envisioned by most advocates, the federal government would pay for basic medical care delivered by public and private health professionals. The money would come from taxes, and medical bills would go directly to a government insurance plan, similar to Medicare.
President Obama and lawmakers have proposed a form of “single-payer lite” – a government-administered plan people could buy into as an alternative to purchasing an individual policy offered by insurers. But single-payer supporters say this option doesn’t go far enough. They want private insurers completely out of the business of covering basic care, which they say could save nearly 30 percent in administrative costs.
That’s clearly not something the health insurance industry supports. Many of the nation’s largest insurers prefer a form of “universal” health care that would cover all Americans, while keeping them in business. They tend to avoid discussing the single-payer option largely because it hasn’t been included in the national debate.
Some statistics show the single-payer concept has grown in popularity as problems in the nation’s health care system have worsened. A CBS News/New York Times poll conducted in January found 59 percent of the 1,112 people surveyed said they supported government-provided national health insurance.
Several groups, including the California Nurses Association and Physicians for a National Health Program, call for a single-payer option. While not supported by the American Medical Association, a nationalized health system got the backing of 59 percent of physicians in a poll published last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The California Legislature has twice passed a state-level single-payer bill – in 2006 and 2008 – making it the first state to do so, but both times the effort was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The legislation, authored by former state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, has been reintroduced as by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. Leno’s version is expected to meet the same fate as its predecessors.
Still, single payer has been largely dismissed from serious discussion on the national level as politically infeasible.
“It’s off the table in Washington because of the politics,” said Laurence Baker, associate professor of health research and policy at Stanford University.
Health insurers and drugmakers have contributed millions of dollars to members of Congress. One of the top recipients of that money, said Consumer Watchdog, an advocacy group based in Santa Monica, was Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who was running the hearings when the arrests took place this month. He accepted $413,000 in drug and health insurance campaign contributions during that time.
Many single-payer supporters interpret the resistance to the single-payer idea to be simply the result of a formidable lobbying effort by the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, but Stanford’s Baker said the hurdles are more nuanced.
Distrust for government
Americans are clearly frustrated by the health care system. While some polls indicate that a majority of Americans favor single payer, some polls show a distrust of government’s ability to take over health care, he said. In a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released in April, just 35 percent of those surveyed expressed support for a government-run health system like Medicare.
As the debate continues, single-payer supporters have clearly ramped up their activity and tactics. The 50 demonstrations have been organized by a variety of groups including Healthcare-NOW!, Progressive Democrats of America and the Green Party.
But not all single-payer groups promote civil disobedience as a way to draw attention to the cause. Don Bechler, chairman and founder of Single Payer Now, a statewide advocacy group in San Francisco that helped organize the demonstrations, said he is more interested in drawing in more supporters than seeing people get arrested.
California nurse DeAnn McEwen didn’t set out to become one of the “Baucus 13,” the 13 arrested at the Senate Finance Committee hearings. She happened to be in Washington for a nurses’ union organizing committee meeting when she learned about the hearings.
McEwen, of Long Beach, a nurse for 35 years, said she felt compelled to speak out about the lack of a single-payer voice at the table.
“At that point, I felt I couldn’t be silent anymore because it was like I was seeing a gag, a hand covering the mouth of a victim,” McEwen said. “There’s therapy for the broken health care system, and any other reform that includes the insurance companies is not going to get us where we need to go in terms of providing equitable and fair coverage.”
Health care proposals
A number of health policy proposals are under consideration as lawmakers work to overhaul the nation’s health care system, but a proposal to have the government pay exclusively for basic health care has largely been left out of the discussions. Here are some of the ideas on the table:
Public plan: Create a government-financed purchasing pool or “exchange” – one that people could buy as an alternative to individual health policies offered by private insurers.
Individual mandate: Require individuals to get health insurance through an employer, the government or on their own. In exchange, insurers would have to stop discriminating against people with medical problems.
New taxes: Tax job-based health insurance benefits, a controversial option that proponents say could help pay for the overhaul estimated to cost some $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Other taxes would come from hikes on alcohol, tobacco and soda.
Reduce health costs: Improve efficiency in the delivery system by upgrading technologies, increasing the availability of generic medications, realigning provider payments to reward quality of care rather than just quantity, and funding efforts to figure out which medical treatments work best.
© 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Healthcare Foxes are Building the Taxpayer Funded Hen House March 23, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Health.
Tags: american health insurance, california nurses, donna smith, health care legislation, health care reform, health insurance industry, healthcare hearings, healthcare legislation, healthcare reform, healthcare summit, karen ignagni, private health insurance, roger hollander, singlepayer
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Published on Monday, March 23, 2009 by CommonDreams.org
The fox isn’t just in the hen house. The fox is building it.
I’ve got to hand it to Congress right now. Most members of Congress are making sure they remember “on which side of the toast you find the butter” in terms of making the for-profit health insurance industry comfortable in their deeply entrenched roles not only in our broken healthcare system but also in the deep-pocket funding of many Congressional campaigns. The insurance industry’s influence is purchased with millions and millions in campaign contributions and with the preventable deaths of tens of thousands of American citizens every year. That is fact.
So why does it even warrant mention that the hearing this week to discuss health insurance reform has a witness list populated with industry-friendly voices, including Ignagni? I write this because it is so deeply dishonest and offensive to me that we are told we have an allegedly open and inclusive process to explore what’s best for the nation’s healthcare reform while the drafting and crafting thunders forward with very closed very elitist and very non-human rights oriented effort.
If healthcare is a basic human right, we must start from that truth and work forward in how to provide that basic human right to every person in this nation. Period. That is not Karen Ignagni’s view. It is not her job. Her job – and she does it well – is to advocate for and protect her industry.
It’s time for all of us who would like to hear nurses and patients and doctors tell their truths in these official hearings to let the committee chairs and their staff members know it and we’re watching. Though we are not invited to testify, written testimony is always permitted. If we cannot secure appropriate discourse with wide representation of witnesses at these hearings, we should submit our own “expert testimony” in written form following every hearing. Unless and until we hold our government directly accountable for these issues, the abuses will continue.
And if the abuses continue, then Congress will give us health reform legislation based only on the testimony they wanted to hear rather than all the information they needed to consider. We’ll not hear much from those who advocate for single payer – publicly funded, privately delivered – healthcare reform because no one who advocates that position is being asked to officially testify.
Below is the link to this week’s Senate HELP Committee hearing and a copy of the witness list asked to help shape reform of health insurance. Do we really want insurance executives telling Congress how to reform their own industry? And then dictating that we all purchase their defective product? Do you suppose they’ll pay themselves handsomely on our billions of dimes? It’s not going to be good for this nation if we allow the industry that has so damaged us all to now determine the next half-century of American healthcare.
So, if you can, watch the hearing live (you can do so on-line via the link on the committee’s website). And speak up about what you are experiencing at the hands of this industry.
You are the experts who are seeing the abuses. You are the cancer patients spending precious hours fighting insurance issues and billing pressure, bankruptcy and even foreclosure due to unpaid medical debt. You are the families burying loved ones denied care.
You are the American people who elect leaders and then expect sound governance from your Congressional representatives and senators. Your testimony is every bit as critical as any of those listed below. Write it. Print it out. Send it. Become the witnesses that should have been invited all along.
Witness list for Tuesday’s Senate hearing on health insurance reform:
- Janet Trautwein, Executive Vice President and CEO, National Association of Health Underwriters, Arlington, VA
- Ronald A. Williams, MS, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Aetna Inc., Hartford, CT
- Karen Pollitz, M.P.P., Research Professor, Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University, Washington, DC
- Karen Ignagni, M.B.A., President and CEO, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, DC
- Len Nichols, Ph.D, Director, Health Policy Program at the New America Foundation, Washington, DC
- Katherine Baicker, PhD, Professor of Health Economics, Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health, Cambridge, MA
- Sandy Praeger, Health Insurance Commissioner, State of Kansas, Kansas City, KS
The Horror of Healthcare in America January 18, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Health.
Tags: california nurses, California Nurses Association, donna smith, health care, health insurance, healthcare, insurance giants, medical insurance, roger hollander, single payer, universal healthcare
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Published on Sunday, January 18, 2009 by CommonDreams.org
by Donna Smith
It was late Thursday evening after an especially difficult day. I sat at my computer screen as I often do late into the night processing my rage and my determination into some fashion of an essay to fight for healthcare for all in this great nation.
I was especially upset this night. It was a day when the abrupt reality of the difficult road ahead to earn equal access to care for all was especially stark for me. Powerful people can be dismissive of people like you and like me. And while they may listen when listening seems valuable within their agenda, real caring and real political courage are very rare indeed.
I reached over to the coffee table for a sip of the diet soda everyone tells me not to drink so much, and my hand froze. I tried to move it. No matter what I did, my hand stayed frozen in the grotesque grip with my thumb and my index finger wedged together and my other fingers dangling without form – my hand was paralyzed. My arm felt strangely distant. My brain could not force movement.
Within seconds as I stared helplessly at my right hand, I ran through the calculations – should I call my husband? What if this is the beginning of a stroke? If I stand to walk across the room, do my legs still work? Should I call 911? What if I need tests? What if I have to pay a co-pay? What is our bank balance and when do I next need to pay rent and the rest of the bills? What if I have to miss work, right now when missing work would not be OK at all? I don’t want to be a cause for raised insurance rates for my employer or my fellow employees – and I don’t want my bosses running calculations on my worth based on a paralyzed hand in the night. What if, what if, what if…
My husband and I have been through this battleground before, and we have been scarred by it forever but we learned. We learned it might be better to risk death than re-enter the fray. It’s a strange form of post traumatic stress at the hands of my healthcare system. Odd stuff.
I waited. After what seemed an endless few minutes, my hand just started to work again. All at once. I was so grateful. Not that my hand worked, mind you. I was grateful I had not started in motion the horror of the healthcare system in this nation for me and the inevitable bills that would have followed. I was grateful I cheated the cycle for now even if I will never know what caused that temporary paralysis. At least not until the next time, if there is one, and maybe not until it manifests in a very different way.
My decision in those 60 seconds was no different than what millions of Americans go through every single day. Some are lucky like me. The symptom subsides or the virus wanes and life goes on. But for thousands of others, the grim truth is they wait themselves right to death. And I have insurance just like so many of us do. Beyond the immediate concerns, I wait for check-ups, for cancer check-ups, for meds and for regular care by doing the same – though calmer – calculations.
The reality is we know having health insurance is not being protected in this nation. It is simply a hedge against being turned away at the door or labeled less worthy of the best care because our financial standing does not hold us in the best stead with our providers. Having health insurance doesn’t protect us from financial ruin or even from being denied a life-saving treatment. It is a business arrangement in which we are in a weakened and disadvantaged position.
Yet, some of our less courageous leaders would have us believe that forcing us all to buy more of this defective product that is health insurance will actually give us “universal healthcare.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Forcing us to buy for-profit health insurance simply forces us to build the profit margins for the insurance giants — and the campaign coffers for those political leaders who support them. It is that simple and that horrific… else I would not have sat waiting alone and frightened in the night with my hand paralyzed being willing to risk whatever the next few moments brought or even far worse.
My husband always reminds me that often the simplest answer is the best one. That the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But doing what is simple is not always what is easy. In this case, the simple beauty of a publicly funded health system for this nation – everybody in and nobody out – is the simple and right move.
And what was I writing about when my hand froze? I was writing about the 2.6 million jobs that would be created by converting to single payer. I was celebrating the wonderful study released by the California Nurses Association telling the nation that doing the right thing in healthcare is also one great way to do the right thing for the nation’s economy. I wanted to tell the world that single payer – publicly funded, privately delivered healthcare – is not only politically feasible it is politically necessary.
I was helping to make the money argument that we seem to need so badly in this nation before we accept higher moral ground.
Our elected officials have a chance to be leaders or they can leave millions sitting alone in the dark doing the horrific calculations like I did. What is a life worth? We have to force ourselves to answer that question justly and humanely by passing single payer.