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Friday, July 10, 2009

BADLY MISTAKEN PRIORITIES











Shown here are a number of players key to the solving of our national health care problem. Some, like Senator Ted Kennedy, President Barack Obama, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, are strong advocates of a universal plan which would cover all citizens through the creation of a government-run, "public option" system (similar to Medicare or the VA) to compete with private insurers; some, like Senators John Cornyn and Mitch McConnell, and Minority Leader John Boehner, are adamantly opposed to any government involvement whatsoever; and some, like Senators Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, and Evan Bayh, are caught in-between, not wishing to offend the large pharmaceutical and medival/industrial complex corporations or their constituents, seeing merit in both sides of the argument(or at least saying they do). Though a finished bill has not hit either chamber, lines are already being drawn in the sand without any floor discussion having even taken place yet. It reveals a lot about the mindset and priorities major legislators have.

Proponents of a public option plan point out that most individuals can no longer afford health care on their own, that nearly 50 million citizens have no health insurance, and that the unchecked rising costs of health care are bankrupting businesses and dragging the economy down. They further contend that coverage for health care should be a universal birthright and not a privilege for only those who can afford it. I, my own physicians, and the majority of voters (72% in a recent nationwide poll) support this view. My own physicians have even told me that Medicare and VA health care, being government-run, are working just fine. My elderly father adds a hearty voice of support for how his medical needs have been met through the VA, and even Republican Senator John McCain has praised the VA. Members of Congress and federal employees receive superb "government-run" health care, and I have yet to hear of a single one of them declining it due to the supposed inferiority some claim "government-run" systems have!

Those "caught in the middle" are, in large part, members of Congress who have received huge donations over the years from insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Nearly all are what is termed "blue dog" Democrats (i.e. Democrats who represent more conservative, traditionally Republican areas or states, who were elected last time with slim majorities). These politicians want to hang onto their seats and fear their support for a public option may cause insurance companies, pharma houses, and some of their constituents to turn against them and donate heavily to their next opponents. It would appear on the face of it that these "caught in the middle" types have a severe case of mistaken allegiance and obligation. As representatives and senators whose paycheck comes from taxpayers, their primary concern should be that ALL of their constituents receive good health care, not just some, and that their constituents' employers and businesses not be put out of business due to unsustainable health care costs! Again, their primary job is to look out for the well being of their constituents, not for their own careers or the well being of corporate campaign donors.

Opponents of a public option, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, want no government involvement or public option at all. They claim that, if given a choice, almost all Americans would choose a public option. Well, if that's the case, then why aren't they doing what most voters want and supporting a public option. Isn't that what they were elected to do, to do what the public wants? Evidently they don't see it that way. They fear that a public option will put private insurers out of business and/or deprive them of profit. Ahhhh---so PROFIT is the priority! They believe that profiteering middlemen like insurance companies should be able to make money off of people's illness and treatment. They believe that it is perfectly fine for insurance company boards of directors to pay themselves millions of dollars each in salaries and benefits while excluding people from coverage, effectively dictating drug dosages and hospital stay lengths, and even refusing to pay for certain treatments ordered by physicians, thereby depriving patients of proper medical treatment. This is all done to ensure enough profit for these greedy middlemen. Public option opponents apparently also see no problem with pharmaceutical and medical supply companies constantly raising their prices at will, well above the rate of inflation. Obviously, these conservatives believe that healthy medical/industrial complex profits are far more important than the health or economic well being of those multi-millions of consumers who are footing the bill in the name of excessive profit.

Public option opponents love to tell scare stories of how health care will diminish, the ability to choose one's own doctor will disappear, and how much more we'll spend on health care if a public option is adopted. I say that is nonsense. I've said it before and I'll say it again: those living in countries with government-run programs are NOT dropping in the streets from neglect, their death rates are NOT dramatically rising, nor is disease running rampant due to the fact that the government is administering their health care. Opponents also love to raise the frightening specter of the government coming between consumers and their doctors. The implication is that government bureaucracy will create a lot of unnecessary paperwork and interfere with a doctor's ability to treat patients. I say this, too, is nonsense. If anything today's private insurers are far more bureaucratic and are creating far more paperwork than these conservatives are letting on. We are jumping through far more hoops and paying far, far more of a bill under the profit-malignant private system we have today than we did 40 or 50 years ago!

I would just as soon take the ridiculously excessive profit and unnecessary privilege out of health care altogether by adopting a public option. If you, too, are fed up with ever-rising drug costs, filthy-rich private insurance executives padding their wallets at your expense while determining whether or not you'll be covered by them, and then dictating from their corporate offices afar just how long you need to be in the hospital or what tests and treatments you can or cannot have, then do as I have just done: WRITE YOUR GOVERNORS, REPRESENTATIVES, AND SENATORS AND LET THEM KNOW IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS YOU WANT A PUBLIC OPTION FOR HEALTH CARE IN THIS COUNTRY! Tell them you want UNIVERSAL COVERAGE! Tell them you want AN END TO CONSTANTLY RISING DRUG PRICES! Tell them you want AN END TO PROFITING OFF HUMAN DISEASE AND MISERY! Let them know you MEAN BUSINESS, and will do EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO UNSEAT THEM if they don't follow through on this!

Those who are placing a priority on the profit and wealth of businesses and an elite few over the well being of all, or who are placing their own well being before ours, are each guilty of setting badly mistaken priorities. It is up to us to let them know we will not accept this, and to get them back on track. So let them know, and do it today! There is no neutral ground on the issue of universal health care. Silence is complicity.
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LATE BREAKING NEWS! In today's (7/13/09) "Crooks and Liars" blog, there is a piece dealing with Progressive Change for health care reform wherein you can vote on which Senators to target for TV ads about their weak or non-support for a public option. DO IT!

12 comments:

SJ said...

@Jack,
It's criminal isn't it? To side with the insurers who've made a business out of doing the least for the sick in our country, defending their right to make money over the right of Americans to live?
We need more people like Howard Dean calling John Boehner and others exactly what they are, -crooks and liars.
Healthcare costs have even felled the auto giants, by forcing them to compete against foreign manufacturers who operate in countries where there is Universal Healthcare coverage. But nobody in government is raising that point. The funny thing about this is, we can push for a Public Option now, and do it with some forethought, -or we'll do it when we don't have a choice in ten years, when heavy industries and other sectors like education are so crippled by these thieving HMOs (who only profit when people are sick and they refuse coverage) that they start to collapse and fail like the automakers just did. At that point we'll just have to nationalize the healthcare industry in a violent, overnight transition. I wonder what lies John Boehner well try to tell then?
-SJ

Jack Jodell said...

In a perfect scenario, people like Boehner, George W. AND Jeb Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Yoo, McConnell, Cornyn, Kyl, and all those other neocon war criminals and corporate shills, along with their crooked corporate masters, would be sentenced to life penitentiary terms. Why? Because they were guilty of crimes against humanity, perverting our Constitution, feeding at the public trough and giving back nothing in return, and defying the public will. Ahhhh---we can always dream...
As you say, we can no longer afford any delays on the issue of a public option. Our entire infrastructure and economy cannot be allowed to dissolve into ashes just for the benefit of a select few! Their "right" to huge profit should NEVER trump our right to good health and proper care! I still like my idea of universal health care as a public utility...

SJ said...

Will wonders never cease?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090712/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_holder_interrogations

Jack Jodell said...

For some reason, I couldn't access the article. What was it about, or is there a different link for it?

Max's Dad said...

Hey Jack:
My mother was on Medicare for years and I would say without a doubt, it kept her alive years beyond what she would have lived without it. Why not this type of health care for all? No $$ worries.
I know a bit about health care and insurance companies. In fact I know a lot because I deal with it on a daily basis. The scare tactics by the industry are amazing. On one hand, the insurance companies RUN MEDICARE for the feds. They also profit from Medicare supplement policies. They cannot lose. Yet they oppose national health care? It's all bullshit. It's all about government contracts. They might not get one. That's what scares them.
Forget about Ben Nelson (D-Ne). he is so far into the health care industries pocket he can't possibly climb out. But that leaves 59 Democrats. Harry Reid is either incompetent or just plain corrupt if he can't get these people into line.

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks for the input, MD! I agree we ought to have a Medicare for everyone. Too bad about Ben Nelson. I fear Blanche Lincoln will be the same way. Maybe we'll be able to do it with 58 and the GOP's Snowe and Collins. Let's hope! As for Reid, this past week he finally developed a little backbone and finally told Max Baucus to quit pussyfooting around with health care reform. That was an encouraging sign. We'll see...

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Jack, great post.
It always makes me sick when I hear the likes of Bush and Cheney praising private health care and blasting government health care.
Bush and Cheney themselves received state-of-the-art, lavish government health care, paid for by the taxpayers. If Cheney had been an ordinary working-class citizen, struggling with typical HMO coverage, I have no doubt that his heart problems would have killed him by now.
Indeed, all members of the House and Senate also get lavish, taxpayer-supported health care. They don't have to worry about being turned down, or about pre-existing conditions.
They even have full-time physicians permanently available on-site at the Capitol---all paid for by our tax dollars.
And yet when I hear Republicans babbling away about the evils of "government" health care, I never hear a member of the MSM point out this hypocrisy to these bastards.

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks, Marc. Those are all VERY valid points! This hysteria over government-run systems is, of course, being generated by those profiting immensely off the current bullshit system and all of those in Congress whom they have paid off. We have got to flood these bastards' offices with letters, emails, and phone calls. We should encourage all lefty bloggers we know to join this cause and incite their readers to action. What do you say?

SJ said...

@Jack,
here's the whole article from the AP on July 12, alittle dated now but here it is:

AP source:
Holder Considering Torture Probe

WASHINGTON – Contrary to White House wishes, Attorney General Eric Holder may push forward with a criminal investigation into the Bush administration's harsh interrogation practices used on suspected terrorists.

Holder is considering whether to appoint a prosecutor and will make a final decision within the next few weeks, a Justice Department official told The Associated Press. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on a pending matter.

A move to appoint a criminal prosecutor is certain to stir partisan bickering that could create a distraction to President Barack Obama's efforts to push ambitious health care Obama has repeatedly expressed reluctance to having a probe into alleged Bush-era abuses and resisted an effort by congressional Democrats to establish a "truth commission," saying the nation should be "looking forward and not backwards."

Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller said Holder planned to "follow the facts and the law."

"We have made no decisions on investigations or prosecutions, including whether to appoint a prosecutor to conduct further inquiry," he told the AP on Saturday. "As the attorney general has made clear, it would be unfair to prosecute any official who acted in good faith based on legal guidance from the Justice Department."

Newsweek magazine, which first reported the development, said Holder was aware of the political implications of having a probe and preferred not to create unnecessary trouble for the White House. Still, the attorney general was troubled by what he learned in reports about the treatment of prisoners at the CIA's "black sites."

The probe would focus in part on whether CIA personnel tortured terrorism suspects after Sept. 11, 2001. Holder has said those who acted within the government's legal guidance will not be prosecuted, but has left open the possibility of pursuing those who went beyond the guidance and broke the law.

Holder has discussed with his staff the possibility of a prosecutor, saying he needed someone with "gravitas and grit," the magazine reported. In the end, the attorney general asked for a list of 10 candidates, five from within the Justice Department and five from outside.

"I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda," Holder told Newsweek. "But that can't be a part of my decision."

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks, SJ. I say, investigate, indict, prosecute, convict, hang. No mercy.

MadMike said...

What irritates me most about the conservative position on universal health care (UHC) is not so much that they are opposed but because they are opposed without cause. The Republicans are truly the "party of NO," and I firmly believe that the primary reason they are railing against UHC is no more than them following their own mantra.

They are opposed because the Democrats are not. It is this stubborn "ideology" that limits their numbers. They are the party of obstructionists. Until they start carefully evaluating legislation on its own merits they will forever be tagged as the "party of NO!"

Jack Jodell said...

You are dead-on, MadMike. The conservative Republicans are insane.