If Democrats Don't Pass Health Insurance Reform This Year, What Do We Lose? And What Do We Gain?

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The version of health care reform championed by the White House and Congressional Democrats will force millions to buy crappy insurance from private providers with no interest in health care but plenty of interest in profits. Its pubic option is a cruel hoax that will not take effect till 2013 and even then will leave tens of millions uninsured. Now Democratic leaders in Congress say it might not pass this year anyway. Is that really so bad?

If Democrats Don't Pass Health Insurance Reform This Year, What Do We Lose? And What Do We Gain?

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The “public option” in the president's health care bill is like the “clean” in clean coal. One harnesses the awesome power of the word clean and attaches it to coal, which is anything but. Likewise Democrats deploy the rhetorical power of the words “public” as in “everybody in, nobody out” and “option” as in choice to describe an arrangement will be neither public or for most, an available option.

The president said it himself in early September. His public option will be neither public nor optional for any more than a tiny percentage of Americans, and unlike his wars and bank bailouts, has to be “deficit neutral.” It will force millions under penalty of law to buy the deceptive and defective products of greedy private insurers.

Most alarmingly, the Democratic version of the public option will be rigidly means-tested to ensure that only the poorest get in, and financed with a John McCain style tax on those who receive nearly adequate benefits from their employers. This is a patented recipe for ghettoizing and socially stigmatizing those who do avail themselves of the public option, setting one segment of society against another poorer one, the exact reverse of the everybody in, nobody out spirit of social security and Medicare.

And though we are told that insurers will not be able to deny policies on the basis of pre-existing conditions, there is mounting evidence that insurers intend to enforce the same discriminatory requirements by claiming that conditions such as diabetes, overweight, smoking and more are the result of patient behaviors and “lifestyle choices” for which the insurance company cannot be liable unless it is able to charge more. The president has even deceitfully lowered the number of uninsured referred to in all the Democrats' pronouncements by subtracting the 12 or 15 million undocumented from all its numbers, as though they are expected to live in our midst as an underclass with no access to health services.

In the year since the last election the president has made concession after concession to drug and insurance companies, to private health care providers and their lobbyists. The White House, establishment Democrats and their echo chambers in the corporate media and even on the internet have worked hard to suppress voices advocating the simple, practical and elegant solution of single payer Medicare For All, which is still favored in polls by a substantial majority of Americans.

The longer the health care reform drama takes to unfold, the shabbier the president and his party are looking. With overwhelming majorities in both Houses of Congress, the Republicans can no longer be blamed for anything, and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are sending signals that they may not be able to pass the president's health insurance reform this year. They can't blame Republicans for this because there are not enough Republicans to stop legislation in either chamber. The Republican talking point on health care now is that the president is spending too much time on it, and needs to concentrate on something, anything else, like sending another 40 or 50 thousand troops to Iraq.

Ever men and women of their word, Democratic leaders in Congress have stripped out of the president's bills any chance for states to pursue their own single payer regimes, and backtracked on promises to allow a floor vote on the Medicare For All measure, HR 676.

Deceit has its price. The initiative has passed to the forces of single payer, the solution championed by Barack Obama up until his 2004 election to the US Senate.

In dozens of cities and towns across the nation Americans are seizing that initiative. The wave of demonstrations and sit-ins at the offices of insurance companies continues to grow. At the beginning of October, www.mobilizeforheathcare.org initiated actions in New York and DC. A month later more than a thousand people have volunteered to be arrested to put single payer back on the table in cities and towns across the country. Sit-ins are planned for more than two dozen cities today, and by year's end at this rate, will be occurring in more than sixty cities by the end of the year.

What Single Payer Health Care Will Do For Ordinary Families

The principal fact of economic life in America these days is profound insecurity. Tens of millions cannot find work, and tens of millions more who have found it live with the everyday question of what will happen if one of them gets sick or injured. People take jobs they don't want and put up with treatment from employers they would not otherwise take because of this insecurity. Wal-Mart is just the biggest of many employers who enforce a high turnover policy on their workforces, so that people will view their oppressive and dictatorial work environments as something to be endured because they are only passing phases on the way to some other station in life.

In fact, the next job for most Wal-Mart workers will be very like the last, and the next after that one too. But if workers in dead-end jobs had the security of guaranteed health care, they'd be much more inclined to stay where they are and organize and fight for better working conditions. Service workers are underpaid not because of the nature of the work, any more than west coast dockworkers seventy years ago were underpaid because they were drunkards and thieves. They are underpaid because they have not succeeded in organizing and fighting for their rights. This is why elite bodies like the US Chamber of Commerce are stubbornly resisting anything like Medicare For All. The economy, and the present health insurance regime serve them well, and they want to preserve it.

Medicare For All, single payer will enable the working poor to make a stand where they are, and lift themselves out of poverty by organizing for and demanding a greater share of the wealth they produce every day. By removing the dread of financial ruin due to illness or injury, single payer will enable working people to fight for their own collective economic uplift. That's why the struggle for guaranteed and universal single payer, Medicare For All is the real deal right now, the key to unlocking a better life for millions in the near future, a concrete focus of the civil and human rights movements of our time.

It's time to mobilize for Medicare For All, now. Go to www.mobilizeforhealthcare.org and take your future, your family's future into your hands. Donate to provide legal assistance and bail money and other expenses. Volunteer to be present at a legal demonstration, or to put your body on the line in a nonviolent demonstration for health care now at the offices of an insurance company near you.

Bruce Dixon is based in Atlanta, and is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.



Yes. I think voters spoke yesterday in 2 ways: "no change"=no v

=no vote or throw out incumbents.  How do I tie this into single-payer Medicare for All?  I think that people are going back to not voting after large turnouts a year ago, indicate voter anger turned to apathy.  I disagree with the philosophy, but it might be that's why there were lower turnouts.
(NYC had 25% voter turnout, which helped Bloomberg squeak to a win.  The media do and will lie - and that relates to the coverage about single-payer - as we know, but worth reminding.  The biggest kept secret all though the campaign was that Bloomberg was scared, as the media hyped his "why bother with an election, Bloomberg has it".  The only clue was spending $1million a day for ads, which as pointed out on DemNow didn't add his personal philanthropy to nonprofits and could be counted as election spending in one sense - or cents.  Negative advertising worked again, as designed to: people don't like negative ads and didn't vote.  But it was a 4% win.  I'm hoping my absentee ballot for homebound disabled gets counted and there's a lot more votes like mine.  Someone I know voted against Bloomberg before going to a hospital for a test.)
      The more we fight for single-payer Medicare for All, the harder to ignore it by pols.  We will get single payer, it's just "when".  To paraphrase the former Vietnam vet who fought for peace upon his return, now a US Senator and former Pres. candidate: who will be the last person to die before we have single-payer health care?
       I am glad this is the lead article today.  Thanks.

There is a good way to say no

There is a good way to say no to the electoral process whilst using it.  If you can't vote Green, or want to make your contempt for the electoral process felt, do this:

  1. Register to Vote
  2. Go to vote on Election Day.
  3. Let them note that you showed up.
  4. Refuse to take your ballot when offered
  5. If you can't do this last, somehow spoil your ballot.

This will show that you came to vote, but found nothing to vote for.  This will, if practised on a large scale, show contempt for the so-called democratic system, not apathy.  It shows that you are willing to vote, if only given something to vote for.  The Democrats just assume that people will vote for them because to do otherwise (in the rigged electoral system) is to support Republicans.  I had an idiot friend in 2004 who, when I told him I was voting Green said, "So you're voting for Bush".  Needless to say, I told him that I wasn't going to vote for either the Asshole Bush or the Asshole Kerry. Make the Democrats pay for this with their political lives and remember, if, in the history of this country we had to rely only on Congress or the courts for change, there would have been none.  We knew that in the sixties and seventies.  It's time to remember that again.  We the People can make a just society, and if Congress doesn't go along, they can get out of the way.

Why not work on getting good candidates instead of throwing away

your vote? 
 On Green Party:I am not a fan of Greens as they are poor on wheelchair access as an issue.  I'm a wheelchair user. 
I'm too old to think an empty ballot is good for me to do. I have written in a name, here and there, though.

Failure is a Great Option

Dixon: "Ever men and women of their word, Democratic leaders in Congress have stripped out of the president's bills any chance for states to pursue their own single payer regimes, and backtracked on promises to allow a floor vote on the Medicare For All measure, HR 676."
I don't think we necessarily lose anything.  I realize the pragmatics, the incremental benefits of covering more versus less people under the current corporate bill, however, even accepting it's meagre portions one is left with (a) essentially a bullshit campaign promise inasmuch as the bill is not operative until the next reelection cycle (will we ever know wtf's in the Bill, huh?) (b) mandated, uncompetitively priced, high-costing shitty medical care (baseline at best) that, given the current economic and job downturn, will punish more people financially as well as create a unworkable enforcement regime (c) "socialistic capitalism" that will force money for citizens pockets into the coffers of the for-profit medical complex thus increasing their lobbying and political influence, (d) eventual cuts in medicare and medicaid as the Blue Dogs, perpetrating as "moderates and liberals" have promised "fiscal discipline"  i.e. corresponding cuts in medicare and medicaid to "balance the budget" (whatever the f***k that means).  
Is it not better to start from scratch versus voting for windfall profits to for-profit medicine so they can in turn buy off our even more, or more generously our  "legislators?" and thus, put the screws to our asses with increasing vigor?  The Billions of $ flowing to these asses will damn near seal our fates.  In contrast, don't we need to defund these bastards?
Failure also creates the opportunity to forge a "regional" or "state-by-state" grassroots approach to the electoral process.  That is, if a candidate for Congress or Senate, especially, does not back, at minimum, the rights of states to pursue their own single-payer regimes then we destroy them, including boycotting if we can't produce viable candidates.  Lesser evilism is nothing but cowardice and a slow death.  As someone astutely said elsewhere, the progressives states will grow economically as not only more attractive environs for creative and enlightened individuals but indeed for corporations too.  A state by state approach might, might just mimic Canada's province by province acceptance.    
So, for the present bill, window dressing and bullshit all, failure is (indeed) an option.   A damn good one at that.

Medicare For All, single

Medicare For All, single payer will enable the working poor to make a stand where they are, and lift themselves out of poverty by organizing for and demanding a greater share of the wealth they produce every day. By removing the dread of financial ruin due to illness or injury, single payer will enable working people to fight for their own collective economic uplift. That's why the struggle for guaranteed and universal single payer, Medicare For All is the real deal right now, the key to unlocking a better life for millions in the near future, a concrete focus of the civil and human rights movements of our time.

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I agree

I completely agree, it's really important to make all citizens have medical insurance. The private one will only cost you more and give no service (or if you want a better one It'll be fixed by adding more money). That way it won't be affordable and public health will go to the toilette. New York hostels

What's wrong with this picture?

Healthcare Apartheid along the way, Norman Soloman, "The Next Phase of Healtcare Apartheid.":
"But the House Democratic leadership has not been content to serve up a grimly pathetic "healthcare reform" bill. Speaker Pelosi has used her political leverage to quash Congressman Dennis Kucinich's amendment -- approved months ago by the Education and Labor Committee -- that would grant waivers so that states could create their own single-payer system. Pelosi removed the Kucinich amendment from the House bill.
The California legislature has twice passed a strong single-payer bill, both times vetoed by the state's current execrable governor. The official position of the California Democratic Party is unequivocally in favor of single-payer healthcare. And yet Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, did what she could to sabotage the single-payer position of her own party in her own state."
Why do Californians continue to vote for Pelosi?

E. Cynic:thanks. See 2 new comments, one mentions you on BAR

Hi E. Cynic.  I left 2 new comments which relate, on earlier BAR stories. One is addenda to reply I gave you awhile back.  I like being able to update comments on earlier stories. 
One new comment mentions you (by  me) on "Great Black Hole of Casino Capitalism" by Glen Ford, 9/29/2009 on activist art.
The other is a perfect example of what Kesi is writing about on p.2 "Education Reform's #1 Rule:Blame the Teachers", 10/19/2009.A news story I heard last night, 11/5/2009,on WBAI community listener-sponsored radio evening news that surprised me.(Link to archive given.)  Well, it's post-coup... An interview with Manhattan Institute propagandist (unchallenged lies) blaming the teachers for the Mayor cutting school aides.

I hope

I hope it doesn't pass.  I think Obama is trying to push it too fast because it was a campaign promise, or because it is incredibly flawed.  Either way I think we need to give more time to tweak it and make it now so unbareable for families.  Technically this is suppose to help us, me in particular since I'm uninsured but instead it wil be hurting my family dearly.
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The duopoly

doesnt work...I have been voting for the lesser of two evils for too long. When I called Sen Brown to let him know how disappointed I was, his sec said, "sorry to hear that". Thats it. millions will die, but, sorry.
This is bullshit! We need another party and anorther, and another....I just cannot vote dem anymore. If I cant vote Third or write in I just won vote. Power cedes nothing without force.

The duopoly (oligarchy)

The Democrat & Republican parties are opposite wings of the same bird (eagle). Both of these political parties are connected to the same power source (oligarchy). You can complain ad nauseam about health care but these people (oligarchs) are only going to do what's in THEIR best interest & they're demonstrating just that.

Republican versions

Some Republican versions of health care reform do address these issues for the 3% that are currently not covered. And they do it without throwing out a system that provides the best health care in the world. These versions eliminate pre-existing conditions and they allow portability when a worker changes jobs. Tort reform would create competition that would lower prices and still let health companies make a profit (I realize profits are evil to your way of thinking). However, our president will not let these plans see the light of day because that would keep the government from controlling lives. casino online

Republican Delusions

Where do you get your information?  "3% that are not covered."  "The best health care in the world."   "Profits are evil."
These are all shallow, pathetic, GOP talking points, not one shred of truth exists in these statements. 

Am calling the new passed House Bill: Potemkin Village - Kucinic

h on Dem.Now this AM was good.  www.democracynow.org  He was on with Jane Hamsher, founder of www.firedoglake.com and I see she has a posting on it,too.  She's a breast cancer survivor and has written within last week or two on how the new legislation will not allow some women with breast cancer meds paid.  Today she spoke on the antichoice amendment and also got in a good ques. to Kucinich (both on DemNow): what happened to the cosponsors of HR 676 who didn't vote "NO" with you?
Kucinich's statement is on www.truthdig.com I call the passed bill "Potemkin Village" because it's a fake facade.  I link to BAR wherever I can in comments.
I have been bothered by the right wing slant in comments on the BBC News homepage online under their convervative person covering the issue in the US.  He and the majority of comments.

Economically, America is in a

Economically, America is in a little bit of trouble, so the cost of health care has to be CUT! But the rationing of care is not politically palatable, so I guess the plan is to focus on expansion of coverage and consumer protections while giving the health care industry enough rope to hang themselves before the rationing begins (Look at what's happening with Obama's post racial friend in Mass).

The reason why the Dem establishment was so successful at luring the health care industry into "talks," was because of the very enticing carrot of having all of those new young policy holders tyranically forced into the system.

The fastest way to enroll all of these new customers is to have a strong mandate complete with consequences if you don't OBEY. That is why when the Senate softened the penalties on individuals with no insurance coverage - the industry immediately attacked the legislation. The end game will be the Public option and the business regulations that end up in the final bill (The stick). It's yet to be seen how Harry Reid is going to pull this off...

The issue of health care

The issue of health care reform is neither what we loss nor what we gain it’s all about what could be  the best interest to  the constituents, after all that’s all that matters.   No doubt America is in trouble aside from it has long way to catch up with the normal economic growth unemployment remains to be one of their dilemmas. And now there’s another mass lay off. Microsoft is a company that excels and innovates- even with Microsoft layoffs!  The 5,000 that were sent packing weren't apparently, enough, and now 800 more will join the ranks of the Microsoft layoffs.

Your Support,you gain

It is quite common that women usually have the desire to buy new jewelries which are seemed to be better than the old ones. links of london earrings Being both rational and emotional, being full of love, and being curious about new things are all typical characteristics of people born under Aquarius. links of london bracelets Because jewelries, worn properly

As soon as I saw that it will

As soon as I saw that it will be a MANDATED plan (individuals are required to participate if they don't have other health insurance, or face a penalty equal to 2.5% of their adjusted gross income) I saw sixteen shades of red.

What the heck happened to Obama's promise that a government health insurance plan would not be "forced on anyone" but would merely be "one of several options"????

Here are the provisions as reported online:

-- A Health Insurance Exchange providing individuals and small business with choices for coverage, including a government-funded public option.
-- No more coverage exclusion for pre-existing conditions.
-- Affordability credits for low- and moderate-income individuals and families, available to those with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or $43,000 for individuals and $88,000 for a family of four.
-- Limits on annual out-of-pocket spending.
-- Expanded Medicaid coverage to individuals and families with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
-- Required participation by individuals, with a penalty of 2.5 percent of adjusted gross income for non-compliance.
-- Requirement that businesses with payrolls exceeding $250,000 provide their employees with health insurance or contribute up to 8 percent of their payroll on their behalf.
-- A series of measures intended to reduce costs of Medicaid, Medicare and other existing systems.

I am okay with all of the above provisions EXCEPT the "required to participate" one. Just because Massachusetts did that, doesn't mean it's right or fair.

And btw I am one of the howevermanyMillion with NO health insurance health insurance coverage and am not likely to have any for another five years until I qualify for Medicare. So I should love this proposal, right? Well, sorry, people.... the fastest way to get me to oppose ANYTHING is to tell me that I HAVE TO join in (and at my own expense!) or else I will get fined.


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