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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A STAGE IV MALIGNANCY IN THE BODY POLITIC


As we begin the great national debate on solutions for our nagging economic and health care problems, it is not hard to see how deathly ill our economy and government are. A massive tumor of corporate greed has mestastasized throughout both, and it appears as though we are in the final, deadly stage IV of this corporate malignancy. Is there any hope for our survival? The prognosis does not look good.

The ever-rising cost of health care, health insurance, and pharmaceuticals is proving unsustainable. The costs of these items rise well above our rate of inflation. Board members of health insurance and pharmaceutical companies unhesitatingly award themselves multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses as they routinely deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions who need insurance coverage and aid with prescription costs the most. They also heavily influence methods of treatment and hospital stay lengths, not in the interest of patient well-being and efficiency, but in the interest of their own maximized profit. 1 in every 6.5 American citizens no longer have health insurance, as they either cannot afford it or are refused it altogether. Doctors must continually battle with these companies on treatment methodology. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies raise prices at will, and frequently. They charge American citizens DOUBLE what they charge Canadian citizens FOR THE VERY SAME AMERICAN-MADE DRUGS! They claim they need huge profits to conduct expensive research and development, even though AMERICAN TAXPAYERS SUBSIDIZE ROUGHLY 30% OF THEIR R & D COSTS! This is criminal. Instead of a health care system, insurance and pharmaceutical companies are forcing us to ingest their poisonous profit maintenance system. This, too, is criminal. It is also immoral.

This "medical/industrial complex" controls the entire health care operation in the United States, and they want to keep things exactly as they are. They are willing, and will always find the money, to spend over one million dollars a day on lobbyists to influence our legislators to leave this pathetic system as it is, but they are unwilling to cover millions of Americans who need coverage most. They want NO government involvement in the administration of health care, and are spending even millions more on TV and radio ads featuring lies and distortions about government-run health care in an effort to scare the public away from the idea. THE MEDICAL/INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX AND ITS EVER-DEMANDING STOCKHOLDERS ARE THE CARCINOGENS OF CORPORATE GREED WHICH IS KILLING THE NATION. Their presence and influence is everywhere, hence my metaphorical stage IV malignancy description. They are all over the media; they control virtually the entire Republican Party; and they have bought out huge numbers of Democrats as well. Their obsessive profit-grabbing is killing businesses and destroying our economic well-being, and it must be checked before it destroys the entire country.

The only true total cure for this wicked scenario would be for the country to surgically remove these cancerous tumors altogether through the adoption of a fully government-run, single-payer system of health care. But remember, folks: this is a stage IV situation we are in. As such, the total surgery of a single-payer, universal system simply won't happen. But an alternative of successful chemotherapy we can and MUST adopt is called the Public Option. It is our only hope for survival, and will at least keep the stage IV malignancy at bay, and, at best, greatly shrink the horrible tumor which currently strangles us. Below is an outstanding piece by Kevin Drum which appeared in "Mother Jones" (and which I learned about through Yellow Dog's July 14 "Blue In The Bluegrass" blog, http://www.blueinthebluegrass.blogspot.com/). It is a superbly concise summary of what a public option for health care would offer us. Here it is:


"The so-called 'Tri-Committee' healthcare plan has just been released, and it's so called because it's a joint effort from the House committees on Education and Labor, Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce. It looks pretty good at first glance, but honestly, I haven't read through it in any detail yet. So more on that front later.

For now, though, let's take a look at the PR effort. Here are the talking points from the "What's In It For You?" handout:

WHAT’S IN THE HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL FOR YOU?

Without reform, the cost of health care for the average family of four is projected to rise $1,800 every year for years to come—and insurance companies will make more health care decisions.

America’s middle class deserves better. Here’s what America’s Affordable Health Choices Act means for you:

LOWER COSTS

No more co-pays or deductibles for preventive care
No more rate increases for pre-existing conditions, gender, or occupation
An annual cap on your out-of-pocket expenses
Group rates of a national pool if you buy your own plan
Guaranteed, affordable oral, hearing, and vision care for your kids.

GREATER CHOICE

Keep your doctor, and your current plan, if you like them
More choice, with a high quality public health insurance option competing with private insurers

HIGHER QUALITY

You and your doctors make health care decisions — not insurance companies
More family doctors and nurses will enter the workforce, helping guarantee access
Mental health care must be covered

STABILITY & PEACE OF MIND

No more coverage denials for pre-existing conditions
No more lifetime limits on how much insurance companies will pay
No reason to ever make a job or life decision again based on health care coverage."



This stage IV situation we face IS something we can keep in check with the adoption of a public option. That is why I again urge you to barrage your Representative, your Senator, and even your Governor with a demand for the adoption of a strong, universal public option plan for health care in this country. Do it TODAY! And TOMORROW! And NEXT WEEK, TOO! Thank you. We'll all be much better off for it!

9 comments:

Vigilante said...

Gee, Jack. It's all so complicated for me.... Which Plan do you prefer?

MadMike said...

It is complicated! A quick note however: I have lived in several European countries through the course of my rather long life and I am familiar with the concept of socialized medicine. I can warrant that the recipients of this system would not be willing to trade it for the hodgepodge of health care offered in America. It is true that sometimes there are waits for less critical tests and etc., but the fact is you can actually have those tests without giving up a penny. You don't need to select from a long list of hungry insurance bandits who may or may not insure you should there be a "pre-existing "condition. Their system works and it works well, not flawlessly, but well.

Finally what the hell is so wrong with a wee bit of socialism anyway.

In conclusion this was a great post. I had to read it a couple of times but it gave me an understanding I did not have before I stopped by.

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks for stopping by again, Vigilante and Mad Mike! Vig, it IS complicated, but I am strongly in favor of a single-payer, fully government-run universal system. This is the type of system Canada, the UK, France, and even New Zealand have. I do not fear "socialized" medicine in the least. Our current, exclusionary and profiteering insurance company controlled system is shit for the birds and has got to go! Mad Mike, I'm with you 100% on the "wee bit of socialism" thing. We've had an overdose of malignant corporatism. Time for a little socialistic surgery and chemo like the entire rest of the civilized world has. And nobody in Congress, on Medicare, or in the VA is refusing care from those "socialist" systems. I say, one system for all and all for one! I apologize for the length and complexity of this post, but what had to be said had to be said. Thanks, guys, and remember to barrage your elected officials!

Vigilante said...

It's the most blatant form of Robin-Hood economics ever proposed. The House of Representatives' universal health-care bill, announced yesterday, pays for the health insurance of the poorest 20 percent of Americans who need help affording it with a tax surcharge on the richest 1 percent.

I don't remember a redistribution this direct ever coming out of Congress. I mean, occasionally Congress closes a few tax loopholes at the top and offers a refundable tax credit to people near the bottom. Or creates a poor people's program like Medicaid, paid for out of general revenues from a progressive income tax. But to say out loud that those in our society who can most easily afford it should pay for health insurance of those who can not is, well, audacious.

There's another word for it: fair. According to the most recent data, the richest 1 percent of American households now take home about 20 percent of total income, the highest percentage since 1928. Now, yes, I know: Critics will charge that these are the very people who invest, innovate, and hire, and thereby keep the economy going. So raising their taxes will burden the economy and thereby hurt everyone, including those who are supposed to be helped.

But there's no reason to suppose that taking a tiny sliver of the incomes of the top 1 percent will reduce all that much of their ardor to invest, innovate and hire in the future. Yet if this tiny sliver means affordable health care for a far larger number of Americans, they'll be able to get regular checkups and thereby stay healthy and productive. And a more healthy and productive workforce will do far more to build the American economy.

One other virtue of this funding mechanism is its simplicity. A surtax is simple to administer. And the whole idea is easily understood.

Tax the very wealthy to keep everyone healthy.

Not even a bad bumper sticker.

Jack Jodell said...

Vigilante, call me Little John or Friar Tuck, because I'm standing right with Robin Hood on this one. As far as the very wealthiest people and investment goes, these bastards have invested very, very little in this country over the past 10 years. They have invested heavily in China, India, Mexico, Singapore, the Philippines, and everywhere BUT here, though, and they have sent American jobs overseas and rewarded themselves tremendously as a result. So I have little sympathy for them. Did I mention that they have received gigantic tax cuts since 2002, also?

Universal health care is definitely fair and long, long overdue in this country. I LOVE your slogan "Tax the very wealthy to keep everyone healthy." Thank you for that fab phrase! It would indeed be a great bumper sticker, and I will use it at the top of my next several posts. Thanks, Vigilante!

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

It's amazing what the drug companies have achieved in screwing the globe out of good health. It's a great read Jack... and one the gets the 'nuts & bolts' of the issue plainly put. Ta. (hope u don't mind my link on FB pg?)

MadMike said...

I just had to drop by again and see the comments to this great post. I agree with all of them, each and every one, even Vigil's :-)

Jack Jodell said...

You are a good and fair-minded man, MadMike!

MadMike said...

I try Jack. I try. Thanks:-)