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
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
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.