Healthcare: Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Town hall meetings.
Buzz words galore.
The ruling class media is focusing on healthcare reform, but for those of us on the “far Left” who are politically marginalized, and somehow stuck in the middle of two opposing forces, know that what is being discussed, how those discussions are being framed, and what the facts are is a circus freak show geared towards the “manufacturing of consent.”
Healthcare reform in any meaningful and authentic sense is, as the idiom goes, stuck between a rock and a hard place, or as my grandfather might say, “Up Shit Creek without a paddle.” Choose your favorite.
A recent NBC poll found that 41% of those polled favored Obama’s plan while 47% opposed it. Later on in the poll the plan was described and the numbers switched to 53% supporting it and 43% opposing it.
It only goes to show that empty, emotive slogans by the “opposition” – which has been shown to be bankrolled by filthy rat bastards and millionaires (see corporate whores exploiting and extorting people like you and I) with invested interests not to see any meaningful reform – are proving successful but can be reversed.
What about the White House?
In what is being dubbed “the biggest grassroots movement in the nation” Organizing for America is helping Obama try to counter the opposition with their own staged video-ops they want to call “town hall meetings.”
None of this, whether from the organized Right via millionaires or the co-opted Left (ie Organizing for America, aka “the Obama machine”), gets to the heart of the matter. Large sections of the country, on both sides, are being fed disinformation in an organized campaign to stop any steps towards progress.
Yeah, I wear my feelings on my sleeve and call it like I see it. I’m not sitting on a fence or pretending to be neutral on a moving train. My allegiance is with those whose health and lives are subject to cold, stale, lifeless markets that see us as little more than potential revenue. Fuck that!
We spend (by a large margin) more on healthcare than any other country in the world, yet we are nearly at the bottom of quality of health as compared to other developed countries. Canada, Japan, Israel, Taiwan, nearly all of Europe has some form of national healthcare program – i.e. single payer. And it shows. They spend half as much as we do per capita and are healthier for it.
We have nearly 50 million uninsured and many more underinsured. Over half of our bankruptcies are due to medical bills, and over half of those have insurance!
I have a cousin whose wife has had to battle cancer. They have insurance. They were paying nearly $3,500 a month for chemo treatment – I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that those pills cost pennies to make. All told, they racked up nearly $100,000 in debt and are facing bankruptcy.
My wife and I have insurance, Aetna. My wife, Amy, is bipolar and we just had a new baby girl. Less than a week after Lucy entered this world (of racism, sexism, imperialism, classism, political authoritarianism and various other ‘isms) Amy resumed taking her bipolar medications. It takes about a week for the meds to get in her system and once in she cannot simply cease taking medications. That could have serious adverse effects. And keep in mind the risk of post-partum. Anyway, a little over a week after resuming her meds she goes to refill them at CVS and Aetna rejects it. They want her to consult a physician to get a new prescription that has a generic (the current medication does not have one). This was complete negligence on Aetna’s part. A new mother with bipolar who had just gotten her medication in her system is not a proper candidate to experiment new drugs with, and certainly not one to have her meds stopped abruptly. Aetna made it known loud and clear that their profit motive was more important than my wife’s health and safety.
They drew a line in the sand. Let’s make it more pronounced, and as Dr. Dre said,
If you really want to take it there we can,
Just remember that you fuckin’ with a family man.
I got a lot more to lose than you, remember that
Just remember that you fuckin’ with a family man.
I got a lot more to lose than you, remember that
In an economy where income inequality, unemployment and job insecurity is increasing we are throwing good, hard earned money after bad to pay for a system that doesn’t cover all, is not even improving our health and that treats us more like commodities than actual people. Call a clinic and you’re more likely to be asked who your insurance provider is before they ask you your name.
There it is. The American Dream… for the capitalist pigs – and their goons – who can bask in luxuries and send their snotty children to Oxford and Harvard to be conditioned into Tomorrow’s Rulers, or to runaway with their mistresses (doped up on Viagra) in the Caribbean every six months, while the rest of us get to experience The American Nightmare where roughly 80% of us spend our lives struggling against one another to get by, take orders from the corporate Messiahs, and consume the cheap, valueless crap marketed to us obedient, product consuming, democratically deficient spectators.
Critics (duped by the rat bastards and corporate whores) decry Obama’s weak, watered down plan that he has “secretly” negotiated with the health industry (what a way to demonstrate his “transparency” governance) as being “Socialism” but any meaningful understanding of the term exposes this as bullshit. We could only pray to the Gods for Socialism. Workers, or Society at large, aren’t in control of the policy and proposed programs. Not by a long shot. “Fascism you can vote for.” That’s Corey Taylor, the vocalist from Slipknot and Stone Sour.
Obama’s plan is a disaster no doubt. It wouldn’t go into effect for years to come (long after his first term is over), wouldn’t contain or lower costs, and would barely make a dent in insuring the uninsured if at all.
But, this is no reason to oppose a national health care plan. Decrying government involvement or paying taxes is moot. If a national plan would be cheaper, more effective and cover all than that is vastly superior to a private tyrannical system that does the opposite. Whether our money goes towards taxes or premiums the bottom line is cost and coverage. To Hell with “the opposition” and “the Obama machine.” Who really wants to choose between Pepsi and Coke when we know damn well that what we need is H2O?
If the existing system doesn’t work and Obama’s plan is a flop, then is there a better solution? You bet.
Congressman John Conyers introduced HR 676, The United States National Health Care Act, or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, back in 2007. This is a summary of the bill:
United States National Health Care Act or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act - Establishes the United States National Health Care (USNHC) Program to provide all individuals residing in the United States and U.S. territories with free health care that includes all medically necessary care, such as primary care and prevention, prescription drugs, emergency care, long-term care, mental health services, dental services, and vision care.
Prohibits an institution from participating unless it is a public or nonprofit institution. Allows nonprofit health maintenance organizations (HMOs) that deliver care in their own facilities to participate.
Gives patients the freedom to choose from participating physicians and institutions.
Prohibits a private health insurer from selling health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under this Act. Allows such insurers to sell benefits that are not medically necessary, such as cosmetic surgery benefits.
Sets forth methods to pay institutional providers of care and health professionals for services. Prohibits financial incentives between HMOs and physicians based on utilization.
Establishes the USNHC Trust Fund to finance the Program with amounts deposited: (1) from existing sources of government revenues for health care; (2) by increasing personal income taxes on the top 5% income earners; (3) by instituting a progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income; and (4) by instituting a small tax on stock and bond transactions. Transfers and appropriates to carry out this Act amounts that would have been appropriated for federal public health care programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
Requires the USNHC Program to give first priority in retraining and job placement and USNHC employment transition benefits to individuals whose jobs are eliminated due to reduced administration.
Requires creation of a confidential electronic patient record system.
Establishes a National Board of Universal Quality and Access to provide advice on quality, access, and affordability.
Provides for: (1) the eventual integration of the Indian Health Service into the Program; and (2) evaluation of the continued independence of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health programs.
HR 676 is precisely what we need. It is our proverbial water. Drink up. Those of us on the margin that are stuck in the middle, or up Shit Creek without a paddle, see we are heading for a disaster and neither dominant side – Obama and Co., and “the opposition” – seem to be preventing us from walking straight into it.
A Google of “single payer” or “HR676” will find various supporting groups and organizations like:
- Single Payer Action
- The Citizens Alliance for National Health Insurance
- Guaranteed Healthcare
We need to go on the offensive to support and project this bill. Make it happen. The alternative (inaction, passivity and apathy) is not acceptable.
Earlier I mentioned the NBC poll and how a little bit of information went a long way to reversing trends. Similar polls have been done on single payer and support has been consistently higher than anything “the Obama machine” has proposed.
This is an instructive lesson for us.
Currently things don’t look good, and Shit Creek smells awful but as a man named Joe once said, “Don’t mourn, organize!”