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Sleazy California Democratd on Health Reform February 6, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in California, Democracy, Health.
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Roger’s note: this is an excerpt from an email I received from activist.thepen@gmail.com.  It describes the machinations of the California Democratic Party in appearing to support a single payer health insurance plan while at the same time behind the scenes doing everything it can to ensure that it DOESN’T come to pass.  In the seven years I spend on the Toronto municipal council, I saw this kind of hypocrisy in action time and time again.  What they did in California is a classical example of this tactic, and the pen activists captured it perfectly and are to be congratulated for the exposé.  And one more example of why electoral politics (as opposed to taking to the streets) is for the most part futile.

As you know, if you have been a participant of this distribution list for a while, we have been valiantly advocating for a single payer health care system for many years. Such a bill (SB 840) was passed by both chambers of the CA state legislature in 2006, but the bill was vetoed by Governor Maid Molester (Schwarzenegger).
At the time we TRIED to get the Democratic nominee Phil Angelides (who had previously claimed to support single payer) to do an action to demand that Arnold sign the bill. It would have been a great campaign issue for him, but he was too chicken hearted or corrupt himself (your choice) to do it, and he lost by 30 points or something like that.

The same bill passed in 2008 and was vetoed again.

Now fast forward the clock to last week, when single payer
(renumbered SB 810) was again in front of the CA Senate, but now with a Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, who would be expected to sign the bill. All of a sudden four Democratic senators refused to even vote at all. That’s right, folks, they ABSTAINED, which is being in the room for the vote and refusing to cast a vote one way or another. At least three of these abstainers had voted “Yes” for single payer the last time.
So we cranked out a targeted action aimed only at these turncoat abstainers and have good information they got LOTS of phone calls for them to reconsider. But reconsideration never happened. So what’s really going on here? Here’s what the sponsor of the bill, Mark Leno, said on the Thom Hartmann show when gently challenged on why previous supporters were now abstaining.
“Arnold Schwartzeneggar was always going to veto the bill, so if one
had an interest in not ruffling the feathers of the insurance industry, the possibility is to vote for it with the wink of the eye that it’s not going anywhere anyway.”
In Greek mythology, Tantalus as his eternal punishment was cursed to stand in a pool of water underneath a fruit tree with low hanging branches always just out of reach, with the water always receding before he could take a drink. THAT is the very image of what the
Democratic party has become for the interests of the people who consider themselves constituents. It’s all a scam, folks, just one great, big, giant, honking scam.
This is essentially the same thing that happened in 2010 with that phony baloney health care bill, with a bottom line of nothing but pig grease for the medical insurance corporations. After lulling people
along for almost a year with the promise of a “public option”, itself a feeble impersonation of single payer, they refused to even allow a vote on it. In the end, having been forced to pass the bill using a reconciliation gimmick requiring only 51 votes, and 51 Democratic senators on record as supporting the so-called public option, they simply REFUSED to bring it up for a vote, even though they had the votes to do.
And the worst thing about it is that even the so-called good guys are in on it. Mark Leno, the sponsor of SB 810, KNOWS it will never pass, that the vote will always be manipulated so it falls just short in some way. The only reason for him to bring the bill up at all is to CON his own constituents into thinking he’s on their side, otherwise he would be vociferously calling out these abstainer traitors, not accidentally spilling the beans as he did. It’s nothing but a cynical PR stunt, and they are ALL in on it. No matter how many Democrats we vote for, till the end of all eternity, they will always find some way to fail to pass single payer health care.

The Horror of Healthcare in America January 18, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Health.
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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.

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