Monday, June 08, 2009

If We Don't Demand Real Health Care Reform We Won't Get It


I woke up this morning and the first thing I saw was Rick Scott's ugly mug on yet another distorted ad from Conservatives "For" Patients Rights. I guess you can't call it "Conservatives Against Patients Rights" or "Conservatives For Insurance Industry CEO Rights," though both names would far more accurately describe the essence of Scott's jihad against health care reform. (That link above includes a wonderful clip from Rachel Maddow that thoroughly explains why a career criminal like Rick Scott is involved in this debate.) Today's ad claims that if there is a public option it will drive for-profit health insurance companies out of business. From, as my dear departed grandmother used to say, their lips to God's ear! Someone should ask him to explain why it would drive for-profit insurance crooks out of business and why that's a bad thing.

Don't expect our elected representatives to ask that question. Not counting the banksters ($3,560,808,113), the biggest spenders on Congress are the fine folks from the Medical-Industrial Complex. Since 1998 they've spent $3,405,669,482 on lobbying our federal elected officials, trying to persuade them that substandard health care that generates huge profits for middle men is just what the doctor ordered. Insurance alone is the second biggest industry in the country when it comes to lobbying-- $1,220,365,114-- second only to Big Pharma at $1,620,254,958 (and way more ready to spend than Big Oil at $785,573,021 or investment firms at $626,626,225). Add to that an other $833,259,267 in direct "contributions" from "Big Health" to candidates (clearly bribes) and $315,390,117 from Insurance and you're looking at billions of reasons why Congress likes the status quo regardless of how bad it is for their constituents.

Remember, of course, every member of Congress has the kind of health care coverage we're asking for. In fact, I posed a question to the Progressive Caucus asking why we can't have the same coverage that members of Congress have. In the video below you'll see progressive superstar Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) answering: "That's exactly what we're talking about-- making sure that everybody has a plan at least as good as the members of Congress." As Ryan Grim pointed out earlier at Huff Po, the Blue Dogs have joined the Republicans to fight the public option.

Today McJoan at Daily Kos analyzed the fake reform that the conservadems were circulating-- the same kind of proposal for a non-robust, non-workable public option that will only do one thing-- guarantee more extreme profits for their patrons at Big Insurance. These are the people who Max Baucus (DLC-MT) listens to while he's having single-payer proponents arrested and carted off to jail. And here's what they think Change should look like:
• Explicit rejection of price controls and rate-setting

• A level playing field on taxes, regulations and administration

• Limited participation to certain market segments (e.g. small group and individual)

• Required supermajority approval for federal bailout of the public plan (in addition to self-financing)

• Automatic sunset after four years unless the plan can demonstrate solid financial performance and positive impacts on market stability

• Mandatory accreditation or evaluation of providers, plans and other stakeholders to ensure private sector cost containment if targets are not met

They didn't even have to think about it; it's straight from K Street lobbyists; you see that $3,405,669,482 isn't for naught. The best explanation I've ever seen on the health care debate is on this Bill Moyers segment we posted Saturday. If you missed it, do yourself a favor and watch. And then watch Howard Dean on with Keith Olberman tonight.

Of course making the Conservadems look like Sisters of Mercy are the Republicans with their anti-working family proposals to kill health care reform entirely. They sent President Obama a letter today in response to his call for a public option.
“Creating a brand-new government program will not only worsen our long-term financial outlook but also negatively impact American families who enjoy the private coverage of their choice,” said the letter from nine Republicans who are working on bipartisan health-care legislation.

The senators include Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, and Mike Enzi of Wyoming, the ranking Republican on the Senate’s health panel.

...The signatories argued that creation of a so-called “public option” will undermine private insurers and eventually limit provider and treatment choices for consumers.

“Washington-run programs undermine market-based competition through their ability to impose price controls and shift costs to other purchasers,” they wrote. “Forcing free- market plans to compete with these government-run programs would create an unlevel playing field and inevitably doom true competition.”

Olympia Snowe (R-ME), was the only Republican on the Finance Committee who refused to sign the letter, I'm surprised Max Baucus didn't fill in for her. These are the members of the Senate Finance Committee who sit on the Health Care subcommittee-- along with their phone numbers (and the amount of "donations" each has taken from Big Insurance):

Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), chairman - 202-224-5323 ($400,674)
Jeff Bingaman, (D-NM)- 202-224-5521
John Kerry (D-MA)- 202-224-2742 ($1,397,617)
Blanche Lincoln (DLC-AR)- 202-224-4843 ($456,533)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)- 202-224-5244
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)- 202-224-6542 ($981,400)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)- 202-224-4822 ($251,050)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)- 202-224-3441 ($81,750)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)- 202-224-5274 ($522,016)
Robert Menendez (D-NJ)- 202-224-4744 ($464,679)
Tom Carper (DLC-DE)- 202-224-2441 ($451,724)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT), ranking Repug - 202-224-5251 ($661,807)
Olympia Snowe (R-ME)- 202-224-5344 ($408,490)
John Ensign (R-NV)- 202-224-6244 ($584,940)
Mike Enzi (R-WY)- 202-224-3424 ($240,953)
John Cornyn (R-TX)- 202-224-2934 ($566,053)
Jon Kyl (R-AZ)- 202-224-4521 ($533,044)
Jim Bunning (R-KY)- 202-224-4343 ($781,016)
Mike Crapo (R-ID)- 202-224-6142 ($375,432)

Members of the Houses' Progressive Caucus answer questions about health care:

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At 3:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We will not get real health care reform in the U.S. any time soon. We, the citizens may want and demand it, but the health care industry lobby won't stand for it and they have a lot more money to spend on maintaining the status quo. Our politicians and even President Obama - sadly - are only playing lip service to reforms. We know this because Obama wants a bill on his desk by October. Our health care system is a mess and needs a massive overhaul. A new health care system must be carefully designed by medical policy experts, who examine the systems of other nations to glean what works and discard what doesn't. The effort should take at least a couple of years. That really isn't happening and there's no one in Congress with this expertise and it is impossible to craft a new health care system by October. So expect some cosmetic changes, but nothing fundamental. It's politics as usual in Washington, folks. When the new legislation is ready, simply follow the money trail backward to learn who really crafted it. The originators will not have our best interests at heart. You can bank on that.

At 5:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like most people who live outside the US sit and wonder what on earth goes on in Washington. That the people in charge (POTUS,House and Senate)can claim with their hands on their hearts that socialised healthcare is the devils work and is one step closer to socialism etc etc. The people of the US deserve what every other 1st and 2nd world nation on the planet have - a healthcare system paid for by tax payers exclusive of no one, inclusive of all citizens. Here in Australia if I need basic healthcare or emergency work, its free - no matter what needs to be done. If I want elective surgery (non-emegency) then I chose between waiting on the public list to recieve it free or join a health insurance plan and have it done when I want - my choice. The story is similar in Canada, Europe and the UK. I have my choice of Doctors, the Doctors here are some of the most well paid in society! Come on people of the US rise up and demand this of your nations leaders make them accountable to you - remember 'we the people'?

At 6:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This health care situation is extremely unfortunate. Call me a conspiracy theorist but the minute I started reading about Obama's connection to the CFR and those other powers that be, I knew he would be an amazing puppet with no change and no hope. Don't get me wrong but there were a few people on both sides during the debates which were clearly free thinkers and not stifled by the MSM. On the left you had Mike Gravel and Dennis Kuchinich and on the right you had Ron Paul. Unfortunately, these truth speakers were alienated by the MSM purposefully. There will be NO CHANGE and NO HOPE in Washington until the lobbyists, special interests and those "powers that be" are ELIMINATED from access to our elected leaders. Those supposed elected leaders are responsible to US no one else. Not big business, not special interests only God and the American people.

At 7:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Governement run health care is a bad idea. It defies everything it means to be an American. The health care system needs some major overhauling, but this is not the answer. It is a typical government band aid. It is a band aid that will ruin us economically and socially. When are Americans going to stand up and tell our politicians we don't want window dressing, we want real solutions?

At 8:04 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

"In fact, I posed a question to the Progressive Caucus asking why we can't have the same coverage that members of Congress have."

This is the least intelligent statement I have read in awhile...its like asking why can't we have the same house/car/lifestyle that members of Congress have?

Do you expect doctors who train for 12-15 years and go 200k+ in debt to be willing to work for what they would be paid if everyone had the same health benefits of those in Congress? Might as well be a manager at McDonalds

At 8:14 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Anonymous at 7:36, I'm sure you don't realize it but you are mouthing the exact same reactionary sentiments that Republicans and their dupes mouthed when FDR tried to pass Social Security. Republicans and those taken in by them were as sure the world was coming to an end-- and just as hysterical and obstructionist. NOT ONE SINGLE Republican in the House voted for FDR's Social Security Act and the only one who voted for it in the Senate, George Norris (R-NE) soon left the GOP and was re-elected as an Independent with Democratic Party support. Meanwhile Social Security went on to transform the lives of Americans and to help turn our country into a stable middle class society-- something that has been torn apart by corporate hacks like Reagan, the 2 Bushes and Clinton. Obama, for all his shortcomings and caution, is trying to rebuild the middle class and universal health care is one of the most important components.

And Tyler, there is nothing in any plan I've seen-- other than in Rush Limbaugh's version of Democratic plans-- that says anything about doctors taking pay cuts or making what McDonald's managers make. Go peddle your nonsense at RedState.

At 8:20 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

And who is going to pay them more when everyone has access to the same health plan as Congress, as you've suggested? How high will these taxes be? Its economics 101 :s

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm all about expanding healthcare to everyone, but proposing everyone have premium health plans is simply impossible. If a universal health plan is passed it will be VERY basic coverage

At 9:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sit on the board with Utah association of Health underwriters and for health insurance reform. Several interesting changes took place with H.B. 188 passage earlier this year. The spirit of the bill allows private market place remedies. It essentially guarantees insurance providers a "no loss" or "no gain" over competing carriers in the insurance exchange portal which is On the surface it seems not to be attractive to participating carriers (voluntary at this point). But you have to understand the carriers’ goal is to cover their administration fees. That can be accomplished now. The other half of the equation is providers and their billing practices that need to be reformed. That is on the agenda. Keep an eye on Utah because the national health care debate seems much the same ground we have already covered.

At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

seems like your site is infested with parasite protectors here but nice work and keep up the pressure. like you say, if we don't remain adamant about real health care reform, the parasites win...

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Hamster said...

As a 63 year old self employed person I have learned the painful lesson of health insurance.

Health insurance companies only want to insure those will will not likely make the young and the healthy.

When you reach my age, they avoid you like the plague.

The only insurance I can afford is a catastrophic plan with a $10,000 deductible. Cost $900 a month.

At my age you wish we had universal health care like the rest of the developed world...or at least a taxpayer supported plan that pays 75% of the our politicians get.

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Hamster said...

One myth I see floating around is that health care is by nature expensive.
Nonsense. I get excellent heathcare everytime I got to Thailand....and I pay 1/10th the charges in the US.
On my last trip I had an operation for dysphagia...cost in the US $2500. Cost at Chulalongkorn Hospital in Bangkok. $100!!!
And I'm not even a Thai citizen. I used my US passport for ID.


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