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Mar. 25 2010 - 8:54 am | 4,853 views | 1 recommendation | 8 comments

The Six Worst Things About Health Care Reform

A couple days ago I published some e-mails I’d exchanged with my right-wing mother about Obama’s health reform legislation. One of the first messages I sent listed what I consider to be the six best things the new reforms bring. They’re all quite compelling, which is why the bill passed.

Naturally, a reader challenged me to list what I consider to be the six worst things associated with what I’m delighted to henceforth refer to as the “Big Fucking Deal” (you know, kinda like the new-New Deal, only Biden-ized), so here it goes:

The Six Worst Things About Health Care Reform …

1.) No public option

Nurse? I'm going to pass on that injection. (Art: Silent Hill 2/Konami)

Even though it was a key component, President Obama let the public option slide after months of angry debate, partially because Democrats lost the labeling war with Republicans, who successfully framed it as a “takeover” of United States health care. It wasn’t.

Granted, the president has pledged to revisit the public option later. While there’s still hope for his plan, don’t hold your breath: even when the program was still part of Obama’s Big Fucking Deal, Democrats were eager to offer insurers rates much higher than even those paid by Medicare, so long as their money masters would allow the public such a great comfort — which really, really sucks. Government shouldn’t work that way. Corporate interests should not dictate to the public like this.

Poor folks bleed too. It’s a crying shame so many of them will completely fall through the cracks in the new laws.

2.) It’s essentially a “bailout” for insurance companies
Or, so sayeth the Wise old sage Dennis Kucinich, Ohio’s favorite liberal son. He’s right. Soon, we’ll all be required to patronize the for-profit oligarchic system that has so often determined whether or not our countrymen will die (some 45,000 of whom do just that every single year, solely for lack of insurance). If you don’t buy a policy (and there will be at least some help for those who honestly can’t afford one), you will be fined a small amount at first, then higher rates in the future. During the debate, there was even talk of jail time as a penalty for not offering proper tribute to your new masters … To clarify, this is Insane.

The mandate is one item where conservatives and progressives expressed similar concerns, but since the insurers have such a stranglehold on Congress, making policies optional wasn’t even really up for debate. Which leads me to the next point …

3.) Your rates could still go Up
Well, shit.

Once again, corporate oligarchs succeeded in dictating to the public what we may and may not do about their monopolization of health services. Thank God President Obama secured a premium cap that hovers between 2-9.5% of a working family’s income, or the worst of the gouging would continue unabated. Still, the Congressional Budget Office did estimate that premiums for individuals could rise 10-13%, even as Obama once mistakenly claimed the Big Fucking Deal would result in a 3,000 percent savings (he really meant 3,000 dollars, but it’s just a red herring until that actually happens).

Meanwhile, while everyone and their mother was squabbling over who goes before the death panels first, insurers were literally making a killing in the market, with Wellpoint, UnitedHealth, Cigna, Aetna and Humana growing overall profits by 56 percent in 2009. Cigna saw the best of it, turning up their money-cooker a whopping 346 percent according to one study, all while spending a shrinking percentage of their customers’ premium payments on actual care.

Adding insult to repeated injury, the Department of Health and Human Services said in February that it’s worried the massive rate hikes recently seen in California and Michigan could become the next trend for insurers nation-wide.

Once again, most industrialized nations have realized that not-for-profit structures are better for covering health services, whereas a huge portion of your ever-growing monthly insurance bill in the United States is going toward company bonuses and keeping the executives fat and happy. If you’re not mad about that, you’re not paying attention.

4.) No negotiating on drug prices
While this isn’t as significant for the majority, to people who need specialized medicines, it can get awfully pricey very quick, whereas other nations, such as Canada and Mexico, obtain the same drugs at wildly reduced rates.

For example: I have a cat allergy and no health insurance. (This is actually true.) Problem is, most of my friends have cats. What’s a guy to do when being at your friend’s home makes you choke like a fish out of water? It’s called Albuterol and it can be obtained in Mexico for just a few dollars per inhaler. Here, I’m looking at well over $200 for the doctor’s appointment and the prescription. I shudder to think what sufferers of rare cancer varieties must pay.

That’s bunk, but the Democrats once again sold taxpayers off to the insurance companies, first folding on rates that would have been paid by the public option, then ceding the government’s negotiating power with Big Pharma. This must change.

5.) Now that it’s law, the propaganda will only get louder
Be on the look out for more shit like this until November or longer. Please try to remember we’re all Americans. It’s still possible to just talk like neighbors. Breathe deeply and smile. Civil disagreement needs to make a comeback and it’s up to each of us to help speed that along.

6.) No actual death panels
What can I say? I’m a fan of Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil“. Great flick. I gotta wonder if our friend Bible Spice Sarah Palin has seen it, ’cause I’m pretty sure that’s what she was trying to describe with her child-like ramblings. She was so concerned about the encroachment of the bumbling dystopian bureaucracy that she even warned our pals in Canada that they had to kill their health care system as soon as possible. Zoinks!

That’s why I was really surprised when the mainstream press didn’t make much noise about how Palin herself admitted to crossing into Canada for health care — the same single payer system she once called “evil.” Her grandson Tripp, according to court documents, also gets socialized health care in the U.S. because his grandfather is a native Eskimo. Considering all the good socialism has done for America’s wealthiest quitter, it seems reasonable to assume she’s living in a psychotropic reality to which only Mr. Gilliam could relate.

In spite of all these gaping, gut-twisting pitfalls, Noam Chomsky is right: the Big Fucking Deal’s benefits outweigh its’ down-sides. Ultimately, the public good has prevailed.

We’ve seen the start: that much we can be sure of. Where this New way goes from here is entirely up to you.


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  1. collapse expand

    I think bible spice is the greatest nickname I have ever seen for Sarah Palin, and I totally agree with everything you said.

  2. collapse expand

    The only clarification I would make is that Obama made two secret back room deals, one on drug prices and one to nuke the public option, that took those issues off the table for Congress to consider. Of course, Congress could have stuck it to the President but he set the tone when he made the deal with Billy Tauzin and the hospital industry.

    BTW I love BFD and Bible Spice. Kudos to cleverness.

  3. collapse expand

    If it makes you feel better, the lack of ability to control costs will probably be what drags this, and the insurers, back down into the trenches again a decade down the line and really force the issue of some sort of public option and single payer into being. I know Rick Ungar has been shouting this from the heavens for years, but it has to be true. The insurance model simply cannot sustain itself. No product, even if it was self recharging orgasm machine, can justify raising rates a quarter every single year and stay in business. It exemplifies inefficiencies that are plaguing the nature of the business. If there is anything I really dislike about this bill it is that, as you and Kucinich and Taibbi and I and whoever else puts it, it is a bailout to those particular corporations and just giving them a run at some more profits before it inevitably comes tumbling down again.

  4. collapse expand

    If there were only six big boils on this Thing, America would be headed for paradise. My favorite missed detail from Team Pelosi is the total avoidance of defining just what constitutes mandated “Health Insurance”. What kills me is that this woman has lead such a privilaged life that she actually believes it’s all about the same. Insurance underwriters (the new Priest Class) will deliver 50/50 co-copy, $50,000 deductables and out-of-pockets, initial treatments only, standard treatments only, and a whole plethora of new rules. Team Pelosi needs to understand that insurance is not about paying premiums. And the insurance defense firms that are going to pop up will make going to Law School popular again. Sorry, but this bill is just stinko.

  5. collapse expand

    Oh, fuck me in the ass. Seriously. I’d rather be fucked in the ass than compelled to subscribe to this welfare for monied interests.

    I mean please, PLEASE. Who the fuck in their right mind thinks that government–the entity which was originally put in place solely to protect our inherent, inalienable rights–should arrest you and throw you in jail if you refuse to be scammed willingly?

    This country is so fucked up.

    With regards to #5: No, we’re not neighbors, and fuck you. We’ve gotten too far for civil discourse. What we need is civil war. We need to weed out the people that think giving up their souls to government control is somehow something good. I want those people either out of this country entirely or penned up in some distant place where they can’t ever again be allowed to destroy my rights as a human being to live in peace and liberty.

  6. collapse expand

    I’ll give you ONE reason why teaching your kids to mistrust the government makes you a GOOD PARENT.

    “No study can NOW prove that there is a significant difference between milk that came from cows treated with rBST and milk that cam from cows not treated with rBST.”

    How many lawyers do you think Monsanto paid to make the FDA (government) enforce that warning label? Only the most naive fools would believe what it says.

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    About Me

    My name is Stephen. I am a News Junkie and an assistant editor at RawStory.com. My work has appeared in publications both printed and online, including The Dallas Business Journal, the cover of Fort Worth Weekly and in the pages of The Dallas Morning News, Austin Monthly, Envy Magazine and others. I also covered the rebirth of the U.S. peace movement first-hand for The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, starting with the city's first public screening of 'Fahrenheit 9/11' all the way through the end of Cindy Sheehan's stay. I've seen my reporting discussed in publications such as Time, Wired, Reason, The Washington Post, D Magazine, The Guardian UK, Media Matters, ThinkProgress, Alternet, Cannabis Culture, 1-UP, Destructoid, Kotaku, GameSpot, G4TV and many others. I am currently open for freelance assignments and actively seeking a literary agent. You can follow me on Twitter @StephenCWebster, or from Facebook.com/StephenCWebster.

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