Tags: glen ford, health, health care, health reform, healthcare, heritage foundation, individual mandate, insurance industry, medicare, obamacare, princeton research, private insurance, roger hollander, single payer
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Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
President Obama’s mandate to buy private insurance was born in the rightwing Heritage Foundation, and has not found a home among any actual constituency of the public – white, non-white, Republican, Democrat, college-educated or not. A new poll confirms that “Obama has based his plan on a scheme that nobody likes – even his most loyal supporters.”
All U.S. Groups Oppose Obama’s “Individual Mandate” for Health Care
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“The new poll shows that no significant constituency supports Obama’s individual mandate.”
When one takes a cursory look at where various groups in the nation stand on President Obama’s health care legislation – now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court – it appears the country is split along party and race lines. A new poll conducted by Princeton Research Associates shows 75 percent of Democrats support the Obama position, and 86 percent of Republicans oppose it, with so-called independents evenly split. The racial divide is similar. Sixty-eight percent of non-whites “strongly favor” or “somewhat favor” the overall health care law, with only 18 percent opposed. Whites are far more divided, with 33 percent favoring Obama’s law, and 47 percent opposed.
These numbers are, however, heavily influenced by what people think is in the law, and what side they think they should be on, based on their larger loyalties. It is doubtful that majorities on either side of the issue actually understand most of the law’s many provisions, some of which do not go into effect for several years. Therefore, many of the respondents are using the poll to register their broader preference for or against the incumbent president and his party. It is no surprise that majorities of whites and super-majorities of Republicans oppose ObamaCare, as Republicans call it, and more than two thirds of non-whites and three-quarters of Democrats support Health Care Reform, as Obama calls it.
However, most people do understand the central element of the law, the “individual mandate” that forces nearly everyone to buy health insurance from private companies, or face a fine. The new poll shows that no significant constituency supports Obama’s individual mandate, with only 28 percent of the overall public favorable to the scheme. Even non-whites, two-thirds of whom claim to support Obama on health care in general, balk at mandatory purchase of insurance from private companies. Fifty-three percent of non-whites give thumbs down to the individual health insurance mandate, as do 71 percent of whites. More Democrats are opposed to Obama’s individual mandate than favor it: 48 to 44 percent. And Republicans are off the scale in opposition, at 15 to 1.
“Fifty-three percent of non-whites give thumbs down to the individual health insurance mandate.”
So, if the core of the Obama health care plan is the individual mandate, as both the administration and the Republicans contend in their arguments before the Supreme Court, then Obama has based his plan on a scheme that nobody likes – even his most loyal supporters.
There’s another interesting aspect to the new poll. It shows that only a hard core of one in four people want to tamper with Medicare as the Republicans do, with around two-thirds of all racial groups opting to keep the program the way it is, with the government paying doctors and hospitals directly for the service they provide to seniors.” Taken together, the poll indicates strong support for the core elements of the U.S. healthcare safety net, and rejection of private schemes, including Obama’s mandatory purchase of insurance from private companies. It appears that most Americans would rather have the option of dependable, direct health care paid for by the government – which was the case at the beginning of 2009, before Obama unveiled his health care scheme, when 60 percent and more of the American people favored single-payer health care. But Obama maneuvered them into a something they hadn’t asked for, and which, three years later, nobody wants. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.
To Kill (a) Medicare March 20, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Seniors.
Tags: health, health care, insurance industry, medicare, paul ryan, private insurance, republicans, roger hollander, seniors, seniors health, will o'neill
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The House GOP budget would fundamentally change Medicare from a single-payer plan that provides guaranteed benefits and coverage into a voucher plan designed to pay a portion of premiums to private insurance companies.
Representative Paul Ryan’s budget plan would so drastically change the way America’s seniors are provided health care coverage that it becomes a completely unrecognizable, inferior and dangerous program.
The Ryan plan essentially would revoke the guarantees that provide seniors and people with disabilities a specific set of benefits and services, replacing it with vouchers covering a portion of premiums to private insurance companies. If Republicans get rid of the guarantees to benefits and services, it will destroy the Medicare program that seniors have relied on for nearly 50 years. They talk about providing a traditional Medicare option at first, but the way they designed this guarantees it will soon fail and have to be eliminated.
We have paid into the Medicare system our entire working lives. Under the GOP’s plan, guaranteed coverage would be phased out over time. When we retire, whether that’s in 10 years or 40, we would be enrolling in a Medicare system based solely on private insurance companies.
Private insurers seek to maximize profits while minimizing costs. This leads to a health care system that wasn’t designed to ensure that seniors get quality care, but instead is designed to line the pockets of insurance company executives.
In the coming weeks we will send you more information about this attack on Medicare.
Will O’Neill Health Care for America Now
Abortion Foes Capitalize on Health Care Law May 16, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Women.
Tags: abortion, abortion coverage, abortion rights, anti-abortion, health, health care, health insurance, hyde amendment, private insurance, ricardo alonxo-zaldivar, roger hollander, women, women's health
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Abortion opponents fought passage of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul to the bitter end, and now that it’s the law, they’re using it to limit coverage by private insurers.
An obscure part of the law allows states to restrict abortion coverage by private plans operating in new insurance markets. Capitalizing on that language, abortion foes have succeeded in passing bans that, in some cases, go beyond federal statutes.
“We don’t consider elective abortion to be health care, so we don’t think it’s a bad thing for fewer private insurance companies to cover it,” said Mary Harned, attorney for Americans United for Life, a national organization that wrote a model law for the states.
Abortion rights supporters are dismayed.
“Implementation of this reform should be about increasing access to health care and increasing choices, not taking them away,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of the Senate leadership. “Health care reform is not an excuse to take rights away from women.”
Since Obama signed the legislation law March 23, Arizona and Tennessee have enacted laws restricting abortion coverage by health plans in new insurance markets, called exchanges. About 30 million people will get their coverage through exchanges, which open in 2014 to serve individuals and small businesses.
In Florida, Mississippi and Missouri, lawmakers have passed bans and sent them to their governors. Most of the states allow exceptions in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Insurers still could offer separate policies to specifically cover abortion.
Three other states may act this year – Louisiana, Ohio and Oklahoma. Overall, there are 29 states where lawmakers or public policy groups expressed serious interest, Harned said.
“You are going to see more actions like this,” said Tom McClusky, a lobbyist for the socially conservative Family Research Council. “This is not something we are just going to let fall by the wayside.”
Before the overhaul became law, five states had limits on private insurance coverage of abortion – Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota and Oklahoma. Abortion rights supporters are concerned that the list is growing as a result of the new federal law.
Murray had joined in voting down a federal abortion coverage ban when the Senate debated health care last year. Now she and other abortion rights supporters worry the same sorts of restrictions could spread from state to state.
“It’s really going to be a patchwork of state laws by the time these exchanges are set up,” said Jessica Arons, director of women’s health at the Center for American Progress, a liberal public policy institute.
Most private health insurance plans cover abortion as a legal medical procedure, but research indicates many women opt to pay directly.
The federal law allows private insurance plans in the exchanges to cover abortion as long as they collect a separate premium. That money must remain apart from public subsidies available to help pay insurance premiums for most customers in the exchanges.
That compromise split abortion foes in Congress and around the country. Anti-abortion organizations including National Right to Life and the U.S. Catholic bishops called it a fig leaf, and continued to oppose the legislation. But Catholic hospitals and many religious orders of nuns supported it.
Abortion rights supporters were cool to the compromise, but it broke a political deadlock threatening the bill.
Anti-abortion Democrats in the House cast critical votes for the legislation after Obama also agreed to an executive order affirming long-standing federal policy against the use of taxpayer funds for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother – known as the Hyde amendment.
Tennessee already has enacted a far stricter ban, with no exceptions. Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen, who allowed it to become law without his signature, said in a statement it “creates a prohibition much broader than that found in current law and could unintentionally negatively impact the quality of health care options for Tennesseans.”
All eyes are now on Florida, where Gov. Charlie Crist will decide soon whether to sign a bill that restricts abortion coverage in that state’s insurance exchange. Florida is a politically diverse state, not known as a bedrock of social conservatism. Crist is running for the U.S. Senate as an independent, after it became clear that he would lose the Republican primary to former state Rep. Marco Rubio.
Crist, who opposes abortion, has indicated he has problems with a part of the bill that would require a woman seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound of the embryo.
“Florida has always been pretty much of a middle-of-the road state,” said Stephanie Kunkel, executive director of Planned Parenthood’s affiliates in the state. “If Florida passes it, it really open up more moderate states to passing these bans.”
Conservatives say they won’t forgive a Crist veto. “You can count him as done if he vetoes this bill before him now,” said McClusky of the Family Research Council.
© 2010 The Associated Press
Tags: 10th amendment, commerce clause, constitution, direct tax, health, health bill, health care, health insurance, health reform, healthcare, healthcare reform, interstate commerce, Medicaid, private insurance, roger hollander, t, warren richey
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(Roger’s note: it gets curiouser and curiouser. Republican state Attorneys General, who couldn’t give a damn about the Constitution and just want to make mischief for the Democrats, have inadvertently hit the nail on the head. They are questioning the government’s authority to force its citizens and residents to purchase a product, which in this instance is private health insurance, and which is universally considered to be a defective product. Talk about doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. It brings into relief this absurd strategy to reform health care in the US by creating a private monopoly instead of doing the logical thing, which is a public monopoly, which is what you find in Canada and most of Europe. And it all has to do with the private health insurance and pharmaceutical industries virtually owning the presidency and the Congress. US democracy in action. What should Obama have done? He should have from the beginning put forward a single-payer, medicare-for-all proposal, fought for it with all his eloquence and popularity, and then if it failed it would be on the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats who would have killed it.)
Tuesday 23 March 2010
Miami – A lawsuit filed Tuesday in Florida includes 13 states and charges that the new healthcare reform law in unconstitutional. Virginia’s attorney general filed a separate lawsuit.
State attorneys general wasted no time filing legal challenges to President Obama’s healthcare reform law, swinging into action with legal filings in Florida and Virginia within minutes of the White House signing ceremony on Tuesday.
In Tallahassee, Fla., 12 attorneys general joined Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum in a 22-page complaint filed in federal court, charging that the new healthcare reform package exceeds Congress’s powers to regulate commerce, violates 10th Amendment protections of state sovereignty, and imposes an unconstitutional direct tax.
“This lawsuit should put the federal government on notice that Florida will not permit the constitutional rights of our citizens and the sovereignty of our state to be ignored or disregarded,” Attorney General McCollum said.
A Second Suit in Virginia
Virginia filed a similar lawsuit simultaneously in federal court in Richmond. That suit is slightly different in that it focuses in part on the clash between a recently enacted state law protecting the right of Virginia residents to refuse unwanted health insurance and the new federal law that imposes penalties on anyone who seeks to defy the national government’s command to purchase health insurance.
“Congress lacks the political will to fund comprehensive health care … because taxes above those already provided [in federal healthcare programs] would produce too much opposition,” the Virginia lawsuit says.
“The alternative, which was also a centerpiece of the failed Clinton administration health care proposal, is to fund universal health care in part by making healthy young adults and other rationally uninsured individuals cross-subsidize older and less healthy citizens,” the suit says.
The seven-page lawsuit presents a straightforward challenge to Congress’s decision to rely on its power to regulate interstate commerce to justify the federal mandate that every individual must have health insurance or pay a penalty.
“It has never been held that the Commerce Clause [of the Constitution] … can be used to require citizens to buy goods and services,” the suit says. “To depart from that history to permit the national government to require the purchase of goods and services would deprive the Commerce Clause of any effective limits.”
Aiming for the US Supreme Court
At a press conference in Florida, McCollum said his lawsuit is intended to move through the courts to the US Supreme Court. “I am confident the court is going to declare the new healthcare law unconstitutional,” he said.
Democratic leaders have downplayed any potential legal problems with the healthcare reform package. Many legal analysts agree with them. Others suggest the issue is open and could produce a landmark decision if the high court decides to take it up.
In addition to Florida, participating plaintiffs in the lawsuit include attorneys general from South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Michigan, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Washington State, Idaho, and South Dakota. The suing attorneys general are Republicans except James “Buddy” Caldwell of Louisiana, who is a Democrat.
The Florida-filed lawsuit identifies two victims. It says the new law infringes the liberty of individual state residents to choose for themselves whether to have health insurance. It also says the states themselves are victims of a federal power grab by leaders in Washington.
Worries About Bigger Medicaid Rolls
The new structure of the Medicaid portion of the healthcare bill – which deals with low-income Americans – leaves Florida with an offer it can’t refuse. The state can either opt out of Medicaid and leave millions of its most vulnerable residents uninsured, or opt in and surrender its authority to set priorities and run programs to an increasingly powerful national government.
Currently, Medicaid costs account for 26 percent of Florida’s annual budget. That is $18 billion for 2.7 million Medicaid recipients.
The suit says that, under the new law, Medicaid rolls in Florida are expected to increase dramatically. The corresponding soaring costs will fall increasingly on the Florida treasury, but state officials will have less authority to set priorities.
“[Florida] employees will be conscripted and forced to administer what now is essentially a federal Medicaid program for which Florida must bear a substantial cost,” the suit says.
Estimates are that the new law will impose additional costs on Florida ranging from $149 million in 2014 to more than a $1 billion by 2019.
The lawsuit says this amounts to an unconstitutional exercise of federal power that violates principles of federalism protected in the 10th Amendment. It says the healthcare reform bill commandeers the states and their employees as agents of the federal government’s regulatory scheme, and that it does so at the state’s own cost.
Another Beef: An Unconstitutional Direct Tax
The suit also says the tax penalty for noncompliance with the individual mandate to buy health insurance “constitutes a capitation and a direct tax that is not apportioned among the states according to census data, thereby injuring the sovereign interests of [the states].”
The tax penalty is unrelated to any taxable event or activity, the suit says. “It is to be levied upon persons for their failure or refusal to do anything other than to exist and reside in the United States,” the suit says.
This doesn’t just injure individuals who have a right to make healthcare decisions without government inference, the suit says. It also injures state governments who are forced to pay for the higher number of individuals coerced into enrolling in Medicaid.
Like the Virginia lawsuit, the Florida-filed suit also argues that Congress does not have the authority under the US Constitution to compel citizens to buy health insurance or punish them if they do not. An individual’s choice not to have health insurance is not “commerce” and thus does not fall within Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce, the suit says.
A Third Lawsuit, in Michigan
In addition to the two state lawsuits, the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., filed a lawsuit in Michigan. It is filed on behalf of four individuals in southeastern Michigan who object to being forced to purchase healthcare coverage and who object to being forced to pay for abortions, contrary to their religious beliefs.
“Our Founding Fathers envisioned a limited form of government. The purpose of our Constitution and this lawsuit is to insure that it stays that way,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the law center, in a statement.
“Let’s face it, if Congress has the power to force individuals to purchase health insurance coverage or pay a federal penalty merely because they live in America, then it has the unconstrained power to mandate that every American family buy a General Motors vehicle to help the economy or pay a federal penalty.”
The Health Care Hindenburg Has Landed March 22, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Democracy, Health.
Tags: chris hedges, congress, democratic party, democrats, Dennis Kucinich, health, health care, health care bill, health reform, heatltcare reform, insurance companies, insurance industry, moveon, national health plan, private insurance, roger hollander, single payer
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(Roger’s note: as someone who has lived under both the US and Canadian health care systems, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the ONLY solution to the serious US healthcare problem is a single payer system, something like Medicare for all. Should the passing of the Obama bill be celebrated? I have argued that no bill is better than this bill, and that passing it will further entrench the existing system, which amounts to a corporate monopoly and make it nigh unto impossible to ever achieve genuine reform. I wish that I were wrong, and that the current bill is a step in the right direction. Only time will tell, but I have not seen anything to convince me that we are on the right road with Obama’s bastardized, Byzantine, Rube Goldberg, corporate give-away concoction that he has pawned off on us a health reform.)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s decision to vote “yes” in Sunday’s House action on the health care bill, although he had sworn to oppose the legislation unless there was a public option, is a perfect example of why I would never be a politician. I respect Kucinich. As politicians go, he is about as good as they get, but he is still a politician. He has to run for office. He has to raise money. He has to placate the Democratic machine or risk retaliation and defeat. And so he signed on to a bill that will do nothing to ameliorate the suffering of many Americans, will force tens of millions of people to fork over a lot of money for a defective product and, in the end, will add to the ranks of our uninsured.
The claims made by the proponents of the bill are the usual deceptive corporate advertising. The bill will not expand coverage to 30 million uninsured, especially since government subsidies will not take effect until 2014. Families who cannot pay the high premiums, deductibles and co-payments, estimated to be between 15 and 18 percent of most family incomes, will have to default, increasing the number of uninsured. Insurance companies can unilaterally raise prices without ceilings or caps and monopolize local markets to shut out competitors. The $1.055 trillion spent over the next decade will add new layers of bureaucratic red tape to what is an unmanageable and ultimately unsustainable system.
The mendacity of the Democratic leadership in the face of this reality is staggering. Howard Dean, who is a doctor, said recently: “This is a vote about one thing: Are you for the insurance companies or are you for the American people?” Here is a man who once championed the public option and now has sold his soul. What is the point in supporting him or any of the other Democrats? How much more craven can they get?
Take a look at the health care debacle in Massachusetts, a model for what we will get nationwide. One in six people there who have the mandated insurance say they cannot afford care, and tens of thousands of people have been evicted from the state program because of budget cuts. The 45,000 Americans who die each year because they cannot afford coverage will not be saved under the federal legislation. Half of all personal bankruptcies will still be caused by an inability to pay astronomical medical bills. The only good news is that health care stocks and bonuses for the heads of these corporations are shooting upward. Chalk this up as yet another victory for our feudal overlords and a defeat for the serfs.
The U.S. spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on health care-$7,129 per capita-although 45.7 million Americans remain without health coverage and millions more are inadequately covered, meaning that if they get seriously ill they are not covered. Fourteen thousand Americans a day are now losing their health coverage. A report in the journal Health Affairs estimates that, if the system is left unchanged, one of every five dollars spent by Americans in 2017 will go to health coverage. Private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume 31 cents of every health care dollar. Streamlining payment through a single nonprofit payer would save more than $400 billion per year, enough, Physicians for a National Health Plan points out, to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans. Check out www.healthcare-now.org. It has some of the best analysis.
This bill is not about fiscal responsibility or the common good. The bill is about increasing corporate profit at taxpayer expense. It is the health care industry’s version of the Wall Street bailout. It lavishes hundreds of billions in government subsidies on insurance and drug companies. The some 3,000 health care lobbyists in Washington, whose dirty little hands are all over the bill, have once more betrayed the American people for money. The bill is another example of why change will never come from within the Democratic Party. The party is owned and managed by corporations. The five largest private health insurers and their trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, spent more than $6 million on lobbying in the first quarter of 2009. Pfizer, the world’s biggest drug maker, spent more than $9 million during the last quarter of 2008 and the first three months of 2009. The Washington Post reported that up to 30 members of Congress from both parties who hold key committee memberships have major investments in health care companies totaling between $11 million and $27 million. President Barack Obama’s director of health care policy, who will not discuss single payer as an option, has served on the boards of several health care corporations. And as salaries for most Americans have stagnated or declined during the past decade, health insurance profits have risen by 480 percent.
Obama and the congressional leadership have consciously shut out advocates of single payer from the debate. The press, including papers such as The New York Times, treats single payer as a fringe movement. The television networks rarely mention it. And yet between 45 and 60 percent of doctors favor single payer. Between 40 and 62 percent of the American people, including 80 percent of registered Democrats, want universal, single-payer not-for-profit health care for all Americans. The ability of the corporations to discredit and silence voices that represent at least half of the population is another sad testament to the power of our corporate state to frame all discussions.
Change will come only by building movements that stand in fierce and uncompromising opposition to the Democrats and the Republicans. If they can herd Kucinich and John Conyers, the sponsors of House Resolution 676, a bill that would create a publicly funded National Health Program by eliminating private health insurers, onto the House floor to vote for this corporate theft, what is the point in pretending there is any room left for us in the party? And why should we waste our time with gutless liberal groups such as Moveon.org, which felt the need to collect more than $1 million to pressure House Democrats who had voted “no” on the original bill to recant? What was this purportedly anti-war group doing anyway serving as an obsequious recruiting arm of the Obama election campaign? The longer we tie ourselves to the Democrats and these bankrupt liberal organizations the more ridiculous and impotent we appear.
“I’m ready to listen to the White House, if the White House is ready to listen to the concerns about putting a public option in this bill,” the old Kucinich said on the “Democracy Now!” radio and television program before he flipped. “I mean, they can do that. You know, they’re still cutting last-minute deals. Put the public option back in. Make it a robust public option. Give the people a chance to really negotiate rates with the insurance companies … from the standpoint of having a public option. But don’t just tell the people that you’re going to call this health care reform, when you’re giving insurance companies an even more powerful monopoly status in our economy.”
© 2010 TruthDig.com
Do Not Resuscitate the ‘Public Option’ February 23, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Health.
Tags: andy coates, dirigochoice, health, health care, health care reform, healthcare, healthcare reform, insurance industry, private insurance, public option, roger hollander, single payer, universal coveage
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(Roger’s note: I have been inundated of late with passionate e-mail pleas from liberal and progressive Democratic Party web sites, urging me to join the bandwagon pushing for the so-called “public option.” Senators who signed on to a petition to add the public option are being hailed as heroes, and we are being urged to contribute to the campaigns of those who are facing opposition because of their stand. While it is pathetic that so many are willing to consider a few crumbs falling off the table as a political victory, it has further been argued forcefully that the current health form legislation, as it has been passed by both houses of congress, constitutes a disaster for genuine reform with our without the token public option that is being proposed. I am convinced that in order to support genuine health care reform [i.e. some form of single-payer universal coverage], the current legislation in whatever form the appeaser Obama and the bought-and-paid-for Congress come up with should be opposed, and it should fail. The reason for this is that this legislation will further entrench the blood-sucking health insurance industry under the guise of reform. It will set back the cause of single-payer health care for decades or longer. When will we learn that the kind of pragmatism practiced by Obama under the influence of Rahm Emanuel is self defeating and only feeds in the long run into the agenda of the neo-fascist right?)
by Andy Coates
Once upon a time, proponents of the “public plan option” sought a “Medicare-like” program that might enroll every other person in the nation and thus run private insurers out of business.
“A roadblock to reform” cried the insurance companies. In turn, nothing in the bills passed by the House and the Senate would erect a public insurer that could possibly influence the insurance market.
The House bill included a feeble government plan, to start in 2013, that would enroll perhaps 2 percent of the nation by 2019. The Senate bill simply nixed the idea altogether. Now the President, in his latest proposal, has also abandoned the “public option.”
In reality the “public option” was never much more than a K-street phrase, a shadow-puppet, a political posture. All along proponents of adding a new government-sponsored insurer boasted “talking points” but never offered workable health reform.
But the insurance companies oppose the “public option” and that proves its virtue, its supporters exclaim.
Hello? Of course the insurers oppose it.
Why would the insurers want to yield even 2 percent of the market to a public plan (House bill) when they’ve been given the “option” (Senate bill) of keeping 100 percent of the market? Why would the insurance companies not fight for the whole pie when the White House let slip that it saw the “public option” as simply a bargaining chip in private dealmaking?
But there is something else here.
With its reliance on the magic of the marketplace, the “public option” is simply not a proposal for reform. In fact, it has already been tried, and failed: in Maine, a “public option” insurer known as DirigoChoice, was established in 2003. It has failed to enroll but a tiny percent of the uninsured, did nothing to reduce the costs of insurance or health care, nor did it reduced overall health spending, nor did disparities in care improve – and in the last year DirigoChoice has fatally tanked.
In the United States a corporate oligopoly of huge insurers, with near-monopoly control in most locales, dominate the market. A government insurer of any size would simply add yet another bureaucracy to the present byzantine insurance mess.
Does it really make any sense to think that a government plan could give the private insurance companies a run for their money – within the contemporary corporate marketplace – without draconian regulation upon the industry? Even with regulation, as former Cigna executive Wendell Potter explained at the PNHP annual meeting this year, insurance companies simply “flaunt regulations.”
The insurance market cannot be tricked into reforming itself. The health insurance company that wins at the marketplace avoids and jettisons sick and poor patients and enrolls the healthy and the wealthy – and a “public option” will not change this fact. The market that serves the private interests – profiteering at the expense of the sick – would continue to do so.
The proper name for this kind of “market magic” is the race to the bottom. Adding a public plan into the private mix can not and will not change the character of this cruel game.
Any successful “public option” insurance plan would wind up covering the sick and the poor. It would be designed to lose, not win, the market competition. It would not prove affordable or comprehensive. Worst of all, a highly successful “public plan option” could put our nation on a fast-track to permanent two-tiered health services, exacerbating deplorable disparities that plague us.
Regrettably, that the “public option” has been given attention at all is but a measure of how deeply our culture has surrendered to neoliberal ideology, the ideas popularized by Ronald Reagan. It is a lie that the market will always provide, most especially when it comes to health care. So why would some of our friends still seek to revive the false promise of the “public option”?
Marie Gottschalk, University of Pennsylvania Professor of Political Science, identified the psychology at work. In a remarkably prescient essay written in late 2009, she compared health reformers in the United States to victims of the Stockholm Syndrome, in which hostages identify with – and even defend – the hostage-takers.
We ought to reach out with sympathy to our friends who have fallen captive to Ronald Reagan ideology and say: Do not resuscitate the “public option.” It is time to let it go.
All along, adding a feeble public insurance plan to the insurance market has been but a very poor excuse to support “insurance reform” that will criminalize the uninsured, divert billions of tax dollars to subsidize unaffordable private insurance premiums and protect pharmaceutical industry super-profits.
Another world is still possible. It is called Medicare-for-all, expanded and improved.
Stop Playing Politics with our Healthcare July 29, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Health.
Tags: congress, elena dumas, health, health care, health care reform, health insurance, healthcare, healthcare reform, insurance companies, insurance industry, medicare, politicians, private insurance, roger hollander, single payer, universal health
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www.opednews.com, July 29, 2009
“Fear concentrates on what can go wrong ["] it interferes
with one’s confidence in being able to do what is right.”
It is time to stop playing politics with our health and our health care. We are caught in a political chess game in which we are held out as mere pawns by our politicians.
Our health, and the care of it, is being used by politicians in both parties, by the insurance companies and by the President, to advance their own hold on power, their money wealth, and their political greed.
Immobilized by fear, whether of Republicans using their pulpit to rail against them, or by the fear of losing the silver coins put in their pockets by the moneyed insurance companies, or by the fear of losing their stranglehold on power, not one democrat politician, not even the President, have the grace, the courage, the fortitude to act under pressure and do the right thing. For, we are not serfs and we are not pawns.
We are human beings whose lives, we thought at one time, no one could place a value on.
That belief has fallen by the wayside today. We either have tons of money to pay for our healthcare, or we are castaways.
The new Castaways of the 21st Century, who are, (according to Obama in his press conference on July 22nd the latest malaise, the worst cancer draining our economy):
Those of us on Medicare whose health and medical insurance benefits are of no consequence to the moneyed politicians, who, without blinking an eye will chop-off benefits to us, the silver haired population, regardless of the live or die consequences those cuts will have, or are already having on our health.
The working have nots. Those of us lucky enough to hold a job in the shambles of this economy. A job which barely helps us meet the obligations of paying rent, or mortgage, putting food on the table, owning a car and putting gas in it, but who are unable to purchase health insurance due to the extreme high cost of it, or carry an employer provided insurance which benefits have been cut to the bare minimum, or work for employers who refuse to, or can’t afford any longer, they say, to provide health insurance benefits for those of us working for them.
The people on welfare whose health care depends on the Medicaid system.
We are all the new Castaways of the 21st Century.
So, this whole health care reform thing is a sham to our politicians. It is a hoax, our politicians are self-absorbed shammers of major proportions who are playing a chess game with our lives.
They are like the fox and the cat in the Pinocchio tale. They are working hard to convince us (and convince themselves since they have the power to vote Yes or vote No) that we do not need, and they cannot give us, the healthcare that we really need: Single-Payer Universal Healthcare. A healthcare which would go a long ways into returning us to our status of human beings, away from the pawn and serfdom status that they now grant us.
These politicians, who, one and all, pride and honor themselves as highly moral, highly honorable, highly compassionate, cannot see that they are really tepid in their morality and their compassion, timid in really taking on the health care reform, highly sentimental when it comes to departing with the money deposited in their pockets, bank accounts or PAC accounts by the insurance companies.
They also suffer from a reckless fortitude which blinds them to the courage needed to stand up and do the right thing for we, the people …
elena dumas is a fictional name. the real person behind the fictional name is a computer activist. She is a former mental health clinician. A poet and a freelance writer. Her work has been published in several online publications.