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Obama's Healthcare Bill: No Choice


There’s little doubt President Obama and the Democrats’ initial push for health care reform was admirable. Unfortunately, the bill, as it stands today, President Obama is fighting a losing battle with his Healthcare Planoffers little choice for Americans and more perks for the same health insurance companies that profit from denying health coverage. With all the Republican talk of a “government takeover,” the House Healthcare Bill  became a corporate takeover underneath our eyes.

First off, there are several areas of HR 3962 which will help more Americans get coverage. That’s true. But that coverage will be provided by those same private insurers who’ve gotten us to where we are today, without competition, and possibly forced. Under the plan proposed by the House, 21 million Americans will be required to buy private insurance, giving those companies an estimated $70 billion in new revenue.

But at least we’ve got the public option to keep costs low, right? Not really. The public option has been stripped down to bare bones to appease blue dog Democrats in conservative districts.

Stated bluntly, the public option has gone from a great idea – a government system that would help create competition and lower prices, covering 129 million Americans – to a bureaucratic rat hole that essentially takes the burden off large insurance companies who don’t want to be bothered with sick clientele. The House bill’s public plan won’t make payment for care on Medicare rates, as originally proposed, but would instead make rates tied to those of big insurance companies, which will make it meaningless for most Americans.

Thank you, sir. May I have another?

An optional single-payer amendment was approved by a 27-19 vote in the House Labor and Education Committee. The amendment, brought to the floor by Dennis Kucinich, would have allowed individual states to create their own single-payer system if they wished.

Awesome, right? Nope. Party leaders, at the behest of the White House, stripped the amendment upon final passage. New York Representative Anthony Weiner then offered a similar stand-alone bill, which would have expanded Medicare to all Americans. After pressure by party leaders, he withdrew the bill. He called the pressure “real politics.”

The Senate will begin debating the bill next week.

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham has already said the bill will be “Dead on arrival.” While his frank language probably makes no sense, it’s close enough.

Democratic Independent Joe Lieberman, whose wife has worked for either insurance companies or their lobbying firms for three decades, also opposes reform. While fighting for his career in 2006, Lieberman stated, “I have long supported the goal of universal health care.” Also during that campaign, he said he supported a brand new program that would “allow anybody in our country to buy into a national insurance pool like the health insurance pool that we federal employees and Members of Congress have.” That’s over. Lieberman told Face The Nation on November first that doing “nothing” is better than doing something about the health insurance crisis. He made himself even more clear on Fox News Sunday – “As a matter of conscious, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote,” he told Chris Wallace.

But Connecticut’s Independent senator is not alone in the dirty puddle of extremist moderates. Evan Bayh of Indiana (whose wife Susan is on the board of Wellpoint, the largest health insurer in America) also quietly stated he’d filibuster a health bill with the Republicans.

Other Gumby-ish Democrats (those with spines of clay), including Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Max Baucus of Montana and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, have been ducking real questions on health reform, as well – especially when it comes to a public option. The lone Republican Democrats are counting on, Olympia Snowe of Maine, seems to favor a public option “trigger”, which would essentially allow the government to create a public option once the private health market fails to perform.

Without Lieberman, Bayh, Lincoln, Baucus, Landrieu and Snowe, the Republican-vowed filibuster will destroy any chance of passing reform – if it’s still worth it at that point. If these senators sign on, they’ll likely only do so for a bill that’s even more watered down, whereas, right now, we need a bill that goes left.


So, yeah, you’ll get cheaper insurance in 2013 when the bill goes into effect (if it gets through the Senate), but the extent of which will be unknown until that time. In all, health care reform has thus far gone the way of the United States’ war machine and big business – corporate welfare under the guise of assistance.

“America will someday come to recognize the broad social and economic benefits of a not-for-profit, single-payer health care system, which is good for the American people and good for America's businesses,” Dennis Kucinich wrote in a statement after voting NO on the passage of the Affordable Healthcare for America Act, “with of course the notable exceptions being insurance and pharmaceuticals."

By denying states the right to choose their own health care systems, opposing open border competition, mutilating the public option’s original coverage of 129 million Americans down to six million (which Republicans will attempt to kill in full once it gets enacted), congress has stuck it to the American people. The House’s version of the bill lives within the idea that public reform must come through private insurers, according to their bottom line – not ours.


photo: www.mommy.life.net