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.
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.