Thursday, December 17, 2009

When Will Obama Pander to Those Who Elected Him?

"Just when I thought I couldn't despise Joe Lieberman more," I said to BalticTiger, referring to his single-handedly killing the Public Option of the healthcare reform bill wending it's way through D.C., and then single-handedly killing the expansion of Medicare to those between the ages of 55 and 64 willing to pay the insurance premiums.

But then I read the case being made by those more intelligent and almost as Progressive as I, that the healthcare reform bill that will be passed is still significant.

From Kevin Drum at Mother Jones, if it passes as it currently stands, here's what changes:
  • Insurers have to take all comers. They can't turn you down for a preexisting condition or cut you off after you get sick.
  • Community rating. Within a few broad classes, everyone gets charged the same amount for insurance.
  • Individual mandate. I know a lot of liberals hate this, but how is it different from a tax? And its purpose is sound: it keeps the insurance pool broad and insurance rates down.
  • A significant expansion of Medicaid.
  • Subsidies for low and middle income workers that keeps premium costs under 10% of income.
  • Limits on ER charges to low-income uninsured emergency patients.
  • Caps on out-of-pocket expenses.
  • A broad range of cost-containment measures.
  • A dedicated revenue stream to support all this.
Okay, that all sounds good and RealPolitic and all. But here's what I find disgusting about the whole Congressional process:

The individual mandate, requiring EVERYONE to purchase health insurance from one of the sleazier, corrupt, and -- no surprise -- unregulated industries in America is, to this blogger's mind, unpardonable. But it was necessary to gain the support of the insurance industry, we were told.

The backroom deals to Big Pharma, already one of the most profitable industries in America, next to investment banking, of course, were necessary to gain their support, we were told.

The change in Medicare reimbursement rates to doctors, whose unGodly high incomes eclipse income rates of doctors in all other countries in the world, and is one of three or four reasons why healthcare is so expensive in the U.S. compared to everywhere else, was necessary to get the support for healthcare reform from those doctors, we were told.

The gutting of the Medicare commission was a way of getting support from hospitals, we were told.

Provisions related to biologics, home healthcare, and the prescription drug doughnut hole were a way of getting the support of AARP, we were told.

And the inclusion of the Public Option was the means of getting support from Progressives who knew that without REAL competition from public sources, whose primary concern would be affordable healthcare rather than exorbitant profit-taking, that the last and best hope to get healthcare costs down would be lost.

But the insurance industry, not wanting to face this threat to their income stream, nay, income river, fought the Public Option, and aided with over $1 million in campaign contributions to Joe Lieberman, got what they wanted.

All these sops, all these give-aways, all this pandering to powerful industries and interests... and yet the only "compromise" in the entire healthcare reform bill was the one that directly addressed the problem of out-of-control healthcare costs because it took on the insurance industry head-on.

As for the Obama Administration's complicity in all this,
Glen Greenwald says it better and with more facts and quotes than I ever could.

All the powerful interests got what they wanted. Except for the American people, who will continue to pay the highest healthcare costs of any country in the world.

Doesn't sound like reform of entrenched interests to me. Sounds more like re-trenching.


Blogger SiouxGeonz said...

Wish I could say I hadn't been thinking exactly these thoughts. The senate is owned. Bought and sold. Prostitutes they are.

4:12 PM, December 17, 2009  
Blogger SiouxGeonz said...

(Did you hear NPR this morning... the real people whose lives are being thoroughly screwed up by not being able to go to the doctor? It was purty depressing. Where is the economic equivalent to doctors without borders?)

4:14 PM, December 17, 2009  

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