So why isn’t the failure of the health-care reform initiative an epochal example of the failure of leadership? Democrats know who I mean…
Or perhaps you don’t agree that having dumped the public option and the Medicare buy-in to get Lieberman and/or Snowe, Senate Democrats have neither of those two votes, so they’re looking around for some piece of the store that has not yet been given away.
They’ve forced millions of Americans to buy insurance, which is useless. I don’t need insurance against something that’s certain to happen, I need health care. Most of those Americans can’t afford insurance, so government will have to pony up the money that supplies the insurance companies with profits. Why do I have to pay taxes that get handed over to insurance companies?
And they’ve removed any hint of a competitor for those insurance companies. Medicare won’t expand, and we’ll all have no option but to purchase insurance from private corporations with histories of lawlessness, dishonesty, and disregard for public welfare. Do you believe that having insurance means you’re covered when you get sick? Ask the 1.5 million Americans who filed for bankruptcy last year, of whom over 60 percent are estimated to have been driven to the extreme by problems that included significant medical bills.
Bankruptcies due to medical bills increased by nearly 50 percent in a six-year period, from 46 percent in 2001 to 62 percent in 2007, and most of those who filed for bankruptcy were middle-class, well-educated homeowners, according to a report that will be published in the August issue of The American Journal of Medicine.
“Unless you’re a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, you’re one illness away from financial ruin in this country,” says lead author Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., of the Harvard Medical School, in Cambridge, Mass. “If an illness is long enough and expensive enough, private insurance offers very little protection against medical bankruptcy, and that’s the major finding in our study.”
Overall, three-quarters of the people with a medically-related bankruptcy had health insurance, they say.
“That was actually the predominant problem in patients in our study — 78 percent of them had health insurance, but many of them were bankrupted anyway because there were gaps in their coverage like co-payments and deductibles and uncovered services,” says Woolhandler. “Other people had private insurance but got so sick that they lost their job and lost their insurance.”
The Democrats consider forcing everyone to buy private insurance, which is unlikely to cover you in extremes, to be a step forward. It is, for the insurance companies; but not for me, as one of the forty-some million uninsured Americans.
Then there’s the timed phase-in of the so-called benefits over a period long enough to include two or three election cycles. This is a trick Congress uses to look as if it’s doing something without making any commitments that some money-making war in some remote location can’t pre-empt.
This bill is certainly historic, in other words, but not in a positive way. It’s a holiday gift to the insurance and drug industries, following on the lavish presents bestowed earlier on the perpetrators of the recent financial farce. Remember, after all, that the Democrats handed $787 billion to Wall Street firms and their bankers and insurers, precisely the culprits in the disastrous chicanery that led to the bubble that ruined so many. Now the same folks are handing billions per year for the foreseeable future to the drug and insurance companies, without even a hint of a means of riding herd on those vicious organizations. Or as Jim Dean at Democracy for America puts it,
…the bill doesn’t actually “cover” 30 million more Americans — instead it makes them criminals if they don’t buy insurance from the same companies that got us into this mess.
It seems the Democrats have once again failed to act on their promises. In particular, the Democrat in the White House has neglected to act when he could have. Yes, the bill is being written by Congress, not the White House, because the Obama administration decided to go the opposite way of the Clinton attempt, which largely handed a bill to Congress to be passed or, as it happened, rejected. Politically, as with everything Obama does, this is a good strategy, because something will come out of it, and that’s the only goal for the administration.
But Obama is the main reason the bill sucks so much. He started by taking the only reasonable option off the table; then he exerted no leadership to force things, whether by gambling on pressure through stating publicly what he wanted, or working behind the scenes for a consistent goal. By making it clear that all he wanted was some bill, he created the situation in which there was no threat of extreme actions from the left, only from the right. Thus Snowe and Lieberman can affect the content of the bill, but Feingold and Sanders can’t. If he had ever come strongly for a public option, there’d be one in the bill. If he’d supported anything at all, it would be in the bill. But he didn’t, because the only thing he really wants is whatever gets the votes.
If they pass a bill similar to the current Senate version, I’ll be rooting for the Democrats to lose Congress again.