Private Insurance — “An Umbrella that Melts in the Rain”
So what if we lived in a society in which fire departments only responded to emergency calls from those citizens who “could afford it”? What if the police protected from criminals only those citizens who “could afford it”? What if the firepersons and police persons were not financially eligible for the very life-risking services they were rendering for well-heeled others? What if you called in your emergency and your financial status had to be accessed to determine if you would be helped or left to your own bad luck crisis?
This is the slippery slope bottom to where we as a “former” democracy are hurtling. Free market systemization destroys the mandate for the collective protection of a citizenry, the common good. Pay to play is the slogan now. Even pay to be saved!
There was a hit song decades ago by Gene Pitney, “A Town Without Pity.” We are a COUNTRY WITHOUT PITY! We are a society that allows 45,000 American citizens to die prematurely each year from lack of humane and affordable healthcare.
We as a country that spends billions upon billions of dollars on militarization that brings death and destruction down on hundreds of thousands of human beings for purposes that are found gravely suspect by the majority of Americans, judging from Obama’s election mandate to end the war. Not to begin ones or escalate unsuccessful ones. Wars launched from lies and fought, many contend, over corporate agendas, often in defiance of basic human rights of the foreign citizens, often with reckless disregard for their lives and the lives of our soldiers.
And Congress passes war funding without debate. But when it comes to health care reforms that would relieve the enormous stress and threat of premature death on citizens? All about nickel and diming help for citizens in the name of the recession by a Congress that rewarded and rescued with taxpayer money financial institutions that brought on the financial crisis, and which Congress now seems about to do the same with the health care and pharmaceutical industries.
Something is terribly wrong with our government now. We are a nation without empathy at home and abroad. We are the only industrial nation that sees fit, or unfit, to not guarantee universal health care for our own citizens. We are a country that defies the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of its citizenry. A society run by and for oligarchs.
President Obama maintains that many citizens are content with their present health care plans so he rejects the idea of any seriously dramatic health care reform (therefore targeting “single payer medicare for all” as ineligible for consideration). This is a disingenuous assertion to begin with, especially coming from the promoter of “Change” in America. It is also stunning given the fact that Single Payer Medicare for All in these dire economic times is the most fiscally conservative and sustainable plan. It would end up immediately saving us $400 billion the first year and every year on overhead and obscenely high insurance executive salaries. It would free up the triangulation of patient to provider through the employer. It would cost 7% from our payroll tax, and 2% of our income tax. Very doable.
Many from that much smaller pool of Americans to which Obama is referring, those happy with their health care poliices, are waking up to the fact that this sense of security, judging from tragic stories coming forward despite a corporate-biased media, may be delusional. This faith in one’s insurance goes untested until one’s own private crisis time. As they say, people want to believe what they want to believe. But statistics don’t lie. Every thirty seconds an American goes bankrupt. Often it is health-related. And every day 120 Americans die prematurely from lack of medical care.
There is a lot of hysteria-seeking propaganda attacking the Single Payer Medicare for All plan. The strident outcries seem straight out of the era of Joe McCarthy and also the anti-government rhetoric of the Reagan era, “Government-run” programs that will take away “choice” is the warning. Choice for what? An exploitive insurance company which Wendell Potter, Cigna whistleblower, calls “Wall Street-run” health care? Offer these two euphemisms as options, Wall Street-run or government-run health care, and which do you think the average American will choose? How much clobbering by Wall Street is Main Street going to allow?
And some of the biggest propagandists against a government-run Single Payer Medicare for All plan are members of Congress who enjoy a PREMIER government-run, lifetime guaranteed on our tax dollars, health care plan. One flat fee of $503 a year. Our tax dollars pay their generous salaries and ALSO their luxurious, ultra-nurturing health care plan. That is $503 a year for them and their families. They are covered for the rest of their lives. Keep that in mind as the costs of the new “reform” programs are revealed for you and me.
The double standard is stunnig. As they are called to make the choice: welfare of citizenry vs. campaign financing donations from corporations? No contest. Our Congress, the vast, seriously vast number, are opting for their own economic convenience and letting the corporations be their true constituents, not us.
As for the “taking away our choice” argument against Single Payer Medicare for All, the opposite is true. It allows choice — of both doctors and hospitals. In fact, the patient is not dependent on his or her employer’s choice of vendor as our current plan and as the mandate ones now being negotiated in Congress are. And the medical choices are made between a patient and doctor, not the vendor preventing at times even life-saving procedures to meet corporate-shareholder profit bottom line quotas.
In 2005 Rep. John Conyers first presented the HR 676 Single Payer Medicare for All bill to the House of Representatives. Since then insurance and drug corporate lobbies have been scurrying to donate more and more contributions to our national leaders, including those running for President, to ensure their protection, their abilities to generate ever escalating profits. To discourage the repeal by Congress of their anti-trust exemption. They are fighting for protection of their very, gratuitous existence.
We don’t need an insurance system, or maybe if we do, one far more modest and supplemental. Our own Medicare system has proven that, as has the VA system. Our Medicare system was used as a prototype by some countries whose health care systems transitioned to universal ones. By the way, all industrial countries EXCEPT the United States offer universal health care now. You’d think that would inspire the President who hypocritically promised CHANGE.
And the media, the administration and Congress are ignoring those who know best the injustices and frustrations of the present system. With whom you would expect the leadership of a functional government to draw on. The doctors, nurses, patients, loved ones of patients, who have valuable feedback — heartbreaking at times feedback — on what is broken and cruel in our present health care system.
And the media, administration and Congress, and even the public option-obsessed progressive blogosphere, is giving short shrift to noble, civil-disobedient citizens risking jail to demand universal health care. Humane and affordable health care for all citizens. Already 150 brave, everyday Americans have gone to jail in acts of civil disobedience during “sit ins” in 30 cities across the country. The goal is 1000 acts of civil-disobedience and more and more brave citizens are stepping forward. “Patients not profits” is one slogan of the Single Payer Medicare for All movement.
December 10th will be regarded as a Human Rights Day. There will be more Single Payer Medicare for All sit-ins which may or may not be corporate-media reported. Good chance, not. Advocates for universal health care are encouraged to call their Congress people, Senators, and demand universal health care, S703 as the best health care reform bill for America. And if Senators are so reluctant to do what is best for the country, at the very least ask if they will support an S703 amendment presented by Senator Sanders to the present bill to allow states to “opt-in” to a Single Payer Medicare for All system.
Soon, the President and Congress will be congratulating each other on the “historic nature” of their health care reform bill. Yes, the one they are trying to make appear responsive to the needs of citizens as well as convenient and even profitable for the corporations, does have language for removing the “pre-existing condition” block, it expands Medicaid, it extends the age children can be under their parents’ plans, it taxes the wealthy more. Or so far, it promises to. But it will be 2000 pages of lobby-lawyer loop-holed language as, ironically, opposed to 30 pages of the far simpler and fairer HR676 plan that has been fought for since 2005.
What the present faux-pragmatic and highly politicized bill will do, unfortunately, is provide the profiteering corporations with millions of new mandated customers, now that they are fighting to stay or become employed. It will criminalize and fine those who do not purchase health insurance. The IRS will be more involved in monitoring this program, undoubtedly. And one must ask will attention for oversight go toward struggling citizens over payment, rather than against Medicare fraud which drains between $250-$500 billion a year Ralph Nader maintains?
Some plans will become downright skimpy, the minimal level ones. So quality health care will become more and more based on money afforded. Also, it seems there will be no premium restrictions and older patients’ premiums will be far greater than those of younger clients. Even though their premiums have been paid for many years already
Medicaid is to be expanded but it will drain other health care services and even may take money from Medicare. Only 2% of citizens will be eligible for the public plan which is too small to be competitive and even economical. It will become a dumping ground for the more expensively ill patients who are poorer and require subsidizing.
Employers may simply avoid paying for employee insurance by hiring part-time workers and consultants. Or simply pay the fines to avoid purchasing insurance for employees.
Non-citizens will be forced to buy or be fined for an insurance that the chances are will not be affordable. And then there is the assault on a woman’s right of choice. The abortion issue. Our Congress has turned its back on a legal and human right in the draft of the House bill already. Poor women needing subsidizing will not even be able to pay out of pocket for abortions. Discrimination by both class and gender. What will the more conservative bill-writing Senate do with this?
These are just a few of the considerations for the patchwork bill now in play. Patchwork in that it avoids the real and viable economic stroke of recovery in removing the parasitic, monstrously parasitic, medical industrial complex from the equation. And to boot, the benefits and ambushes of this crushing faux-reform won’t kick in until 2013 at the earliest. So citizens will continue to suffer and die without its benefits, and the healthy fortunate citizens, some, can sustain their denial and extend the unearned trust to their President and Congress. And the malleable hysterical tea baggers and company will spew xenophobia, exceptionalism, racism, and disinforming and disinformed nonsense, to the titillated delight of the attentive (to them) corporate media.
I am calling the Senate right now to promote the Single Payer Medicare for All S703 bill sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders. As a far, secondary alternative, I am asking they give the states an “opt in” right to organize a single payer system, which hopefully will be offered by Senator Sanders as an S703 amendment to the currently debated bill.
I am encouraging my fellow progressives and also the non-progressives to support Bernie Sanders’ S703 bill or, again, at the very least, Sanders’ S703 amendment. To call a Senator or more — Four toll-free switchboard numbers for the Senate and House: 1-800-828-0498, 1-866-338-1015, 1-866-220-0044, and 1-800-473-6711. Or email or write. It matters. The more the better. Even give the president a call at 1-800-578-4171,
One link to the list of senators:
Please join me. Do it for yourself, your loved ones, your country, those future generations. Be a part of the solution, not the problem. Thanks.
BTW, that wonderful metaphor of the umbrella in the title was used by Dr. Ann Settgast and Dr. Elizabeth Frost in an article at the PNHP site: