Monday, March 22, 2010

Death in the Streets

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for March 22, 2010

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.
Kurt Vonnegut

OMG! Congress passed a health bill. Sure it was a huge boondoggling giveaway to the insurance companies and big Pharma, and yes, watching this hideosity get written was enough to make anyone sick, but at least now when we start dying in the streets like dawgs, which is what the Republicans predict will commence, oh, about, right now, at least we’ll have health insurance and can call a doctor as we expire next to the pothole over there near the parking lot on the corner.

True, all the polls showed that the majority of Americans wanted a “public option” to be on the table. Silly Billys. There’s no way Congress would allow anything “public” or even not-for-profit to be around to compete with the for-huge profit, freebooting privateer insurance companies. After all, it’s the government’s purpose to ensure that certain businesses (those that own Congress outright) be subsidized and supported and even encouraged to form vast monopolies, the better to make more money with. That’s the American Way, so some sort of less expensive, not-for-profit, single-payer “public option,” like Medicare for All couldn’t possibly be left on the table.

So what was left on the table? Well, this bill will prevent health insurance companies from tossing you off your policy when you get sick. According to Republicans, that’s a bad thing that people don’t want that. They want to pay for years for a policy and just when they need it most, it’s pulled out from under them, leaving them with hospital bills that bankrupt them so they go die in the streets like dawgs

And now insurance companies can’t deny you health coverage based on prior health issues. So if you have a pre-existing condition, even a minor one, and lose your job and with it your job’s health insurance, you can at least go get some insurance from a “pool.” According to Republicans, Americans really, really hate that, so they fought like Spartans at the Gates of Hell to keep that from happening. But they lost that one, too, so now an awful lot of people will now be able to get coverage. Dang.

Wait, it gets worse. This bill requires that health insurance companies must spend about 80% of their health insurance income on actually delivering health care rather delivering profits to the stockholders and CEOs, which is totally UnAmerican, and something Republicans know the American people won’t stand for. They want to pay more for their healthcare just to keep those profits high and Wall Street happy.

And the experts who’ve looked at the books on this awful bill claim that it will help reduce the deficit over time, or at the least may slow its catastrophic rise. Everyone knows how much Republicans really hate deficit spending. Yes, I know, Ronald Reagan, a Republican, blew the budget all to hell and gone into the red, and Democrat Bill Clinton set things right only to have Republican George Bush blow it all to hell again. Still, Republicans hate deficit spending so anything that’s supposed to reduce it is a really, really bad thing.

Worse, after this awful law kicks in, people will likely begin to find out that, No, there aren’t any “death panels” in it, so Granny isn’t going to be hauled away by Nurse Nazi and killed. Plus, the so-called “donut-hole” for Medicare drugs will be closed, thereby helping seniors better afford their medicines, which will keep Granny alive a little longer. And, with luck, various programs will now be in place to start the carrot/stick process of encouraging treatment that actually delivers better health outcomes, rather than just paying for more and more useless, expensive, uncoordinated “treatment.” All of which Republicans assure us, isn’t what we Americans want at all.

The press and pols, of course, are acting like this battle is over. Far from it. The Republican Governor of Virginia has publicly vowed to take this health bill to federal court and all the way up to the Supreme Court, which will make for an interesting case: Asking Justice Roberts, an “activist judge, legislating from the bench,” and a guy who never met a corporation he didn’t love, to rule that forcing Americans to buy insurance from private Corporations is unconstitutional.

And, like all bills, this one is a work in progress that certainly contains a lot of unintended consequences that will have to be “fixed” or expanded later, such as actually creating and expanding a real public option or allowing the government to save even more money by repealing the present law that forbids the government from negotiating better Medicare drug pricing. That law was a Republican-created big Pharma giveaway jammed through a Republican Congress in the wee hours of the morning, a bill that made the present health-care boondoggling giveaway look like beanbag.

But, equally possible, the whole thing can also be shut down and killed altogether if Americans vote to give Republicans a veto-proof majority in Congress come the next election. Then, like Penelope at her loom, they can begin to unravel this bill to once again give Americans what Republicans say they want – a health care bill that allows insurance companies to once again start tossing you off their rolls when you get sick or refuse to sell you a policy in the first place. Oh, and keep raising your premiums to pay for the CEO’s new corporate jet.


Sandra Gore Nielsen said...

It ain't perfect - far from it - but at least it's a step in the right direction.
Imagine that we might finally take care of Americans!
My prediction: After a generation, the country will be ready for a public option. Too bad we are such social dinosaurs here, but we do come around at a glacial pace. Look at the time span between social security and medicare.
Me - I say go Pelosi - I'm proud you're from California!

Alon Perlman said...

Hey, I agree SGN, but the paradigm is literally shifting. As in Government is moving slower but Glaciers are moving faster.
Let the free market decide what is real, before we are issued corneal implants ; one green one red, so that the imeges on TV are more real and 3 dimentional then life itself. (The new 3D technology uses grid diffraction or something similar but you get my continental drift).
Back to the free market. Is there a Medical insurence Stock index?
If the insurence company stocks are up, what does this tell us?
Note that the Insurence co's stocks pre-adjusted prior to the last few days events, so 20 years 10 years, 5, 1 year and 6,3,1 months etc are what we need to look at in order to understand who wins most in this Win-Win (?)

Donna said...

first of all, i love kurt vonnegut. and, anne, i think you and i and stan are in a karass together.
second, i watched health care reform all day. how wonderful technology is. television is a teleportation machine, whisking our eyes and ears into the house chamber, out to the tea bagger crowd, walking along with nancy and steny and john etal as they link arms, nancy with giant gavel in hand, through the KILL mob and into the house to bring the beginnings of the revolution in health care.
yeah, a lot of it stinks. but some of it doesn't. and reform will build, just like it did with social security, and the world will be a better place.
love your words!

friend said...

Habit is a second nature. ........................................

Churadogs said...

While a lot of the ugliness seen on TV and in the streets was stirred up by deliberate lies (all those fake grassroots organization actually being run by rich for-hire lobbyists for big bucks), the ugliness did illuminate both the ignorance, but most important, the deep fears of many Americans, which constantly made me ask: When did America get so dumb and gullible and frightened? Were we always this way? Looking back on Medicare, same type of fearmongering, civil rights was understandable given the bigotry that always simmers under our phony Kumbaya exterior, but a healthcare bill that attempts to give people the minimum protections the majority of people said they wanted and suddenly people are screaming about dead grannies? Nuts. People were going nuts and apparently so easily led by liars, and guillible to those lies. What the hell happened to a People from Missouri? Skeptical but pragmatic, a people unafraid and willing to git 'r done? Maybe even that character was always a bogus myth? If true, then we're in real trouble because if you think this food fight was bad, wait 'till you see anything having to do with climate change and energy policy. Not to mention reforming Wall Street.

Ron said...

Ann wrote:

"... deliberate lies (all those fake grassroots organization actually being run by rich for-hire lobbyists for big bucks), the ugliness did illuminate both the ignorance, but most important, the deep fears of many Americans, which constantly made me ask: When did America get so dumb and gullible and frightened?"

One (of the many) things I love about the Los Osos story is that it is a beautiful microcosm of, well, everything.

For example, because of my reporting on Los Osos, I already know what's going to happen with the health care debate.

It goes a little like this: If a group opposes something, like a recall election or a heath care bill, that group has to try and scare everyone into NOT approving... whatever.

However, if the "whatever" -- recall election or a heath care bill -- ends up passing, then the opposition group is now HIGHLY motivated to do everything it can, behind the scenes, to try and make all of that scary stuff, that they were saying during the debate, happen.

Ann (kind of) calls it -- and I also love this -- the "We're all gonna die in the streets like dawgs if this passes" syndrome.

In the Los Osos recall case, the opposition was saying things like, "If this recall is successful, we're all going to get fined out of existence, and we're going to lose local control because the Los Osos CSD is going to be dissolved."

Well, the recall was successful, so the first thing the opposition had to do was to try and ensure that everyone was fined out of existence and the CSD was dissolved, so they would be able to say, "See? Because the recall was successful, the town was fined out of existence, and we lost local control."

That's true. Check it...

From my Huge File-O-Quotes:

Before the recall:

"More delays mean the LOCSD may be fined out of existence."
-- Pandora Nash-Karner, from Save the Dream Newsletter #4, March 25, 2005

Immediately after the recall:

"I hope the CSD gets fined out of existence..."
-- Pandora Nash-Karner, Sept. 28, 2005


Before the recall:

"We’d lose local control."
-- Pandora Nash-Karner, from Save the Dream Newsletter #4, March 25, 2005

After the recall:

"LAFCO’s original application fee was $12,500 which was a deposit towards the actual cost of processing the proposal. Additional staff time based on the activity log amounted to $27,747.50 for a total of $40,247.50," wrote, Paul Hood, executive officer for LAFCO, in an e-mail to SewerWatch. "This covered the entire cost of processing the proposal to dissolve the LOCSD (by Taxpayers Watch)."

So, with all of that in mind, now watch what's going to happen with the health care debate. All of those wing-nut groups that opposed it, are now HIGHLY motivated to work behind the scenes (of course) to ENSURE that we all die in the streets like dawgs, so they'll be able to say, "See? The health care overhaul passed, and you all died in the streets like dawgs, just like we said."

It's our job now to look for that technique, and recognize it.

God, I love the Los Osos story. It's taught me SO much.

Alon Perlman said...

A friend in need is a friend indeed,
Re the posting above Ron's;
friend said...
Habit is a second nature. ........................................
12:58 AM, March 23, 2010
That particular habit is first nature unless practiced indirectly, or 1/3 around the world. I wonder if those Taiwanese girls would like to chat about Los Osos Sewer politics
It raised MY blood pressure… is that good or bad? Raised my interocular pressure too, one of my eyeballs rolled clear under the desk…
Back in the monkey house (about 13 when I read it, first Vonnegut novel (collection of shorts?))
Speaking of spam, it’s a delicacy in Hawaii, if the rice is cooked right.
But first take care of Health…

Ron, Huh?
I thought “Los Osos as a microcosm of the world” ©
was one of my copyrighted, I’ll have one of my staff look into it. It’s why Global Warming Can’t be reversed until we all Duct tape our mouths, and stop driving around to meetings with reams of paper with articles Googled from the internet.

Ron I agree, with “God, I love the Los Osos story. It's taught me SO much.”
Where do i send the 25 cts, for the quote, that address to the screens left on is for donations. Do royalty pmts go there too?

*Bip*---*Bip* ---*Bip*---*Bip* Late breaking Bizwire Alert…---*Bip*---*Bip*---*Bip*---*Bip*---*Bip*---*Bip
Late breaking Bizwire
Calhoun’s Cannon stock rose today to record levels as news spread that she has cornered the market on “getting it” in the Health care reform "Words? Just Words?" arena and has commanded a large market share on “telling it like it is”. SEC Offices remained shut and regulators were unavailable for comments as to whether or not this constitutes an information monopoly.

M said...

Being as you only berated the Republican party, one would assume that you think the Democrat party is as clean as could be. How many favors do you suppose were paid to get votes? When you think about it, it is just one big game with all of them in Washington. The way their system is set up now, they got their's, now they want more.
Out of curiosity, if I already have health insurance, is this going to cost me more money to retain it? Will I be able to retain it? Am I paying more in taxes to pay for everybody else's medical bills?
Sincerely, M

Churadogs said...

M. Just because I berate the Repubs doesn't mean I think the DemocratIC party is clean as could be. That's false reasoning. As for your concerns, some of the questions will have to wait until the bill is passed, which apparently the Republicans are working (until 2 pm only) to stop or slow down or something, to see what's left in the wording. As for paying more in taxes to pay for everybody else's medical bills, you're doing that now via Medicaid/emergency room costs (the most expensive delivery system for medicine ever!) for uninsured folks & etc. Whether you'll pay more depends on your income. If you have health insurance at work, it won't change unless your employer decides to change policies and coverage, but that's up to your employer. If you're on Medicare Advantage (which was a boondoggle extra pay-off to private insurance companies) those extra payments (tax dollars subsiziing private ins. cos.) will stop, and I think those extra $ added back to original Medicare, thereby extending it's viability about 9 years, and if you have regular stand-alone Medicare, that stays the same, so far as i know at this point. You might want to go to or some such and get the facts -- at least to this point.