By Michael Haughey, Updated: August 1, 2009
I attended one of the many Democratic health care caucuses this week. I expected (silly me) an open discussion of health care options. Instead, there was a tight agenda of presentations with very little time for the attendees to voice their opinion. So we voiced our opinion in the guise of questions for the presenters.
The main presentation was well done, as far as it went. However there was absolutely no mention of single-payer. The audience had to bring that up in the Q & A. Then there was to be a straw poll between the House and Senate approaches to health care reform (for what purpose it is hard to tell). Once again, the audience insisted that if there was to be a “poll”, single payer must be a choice.. But no – single payer was only allowed to be a separate question that IF it were an option, how many would prefer it. The count for that was announced as 95% for single-payer.
It does make one wonder how far is the reach of the lobbying from the health insurance, pharmaceutical, and related industries for the one option that can work to be so fiercely resisted even by our supposed representatives who were elected on the very platform of achieving single-payer.
It gets worse, of course. The versions of health care reform that are coming out of the congressional committees are clearly being written by the health insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies. How do we know this? Look at the REQUIREMENT for everyone to buy health insurance or face a fine. That is blatant marketing by the government for the insurance companies, with the added penalties if you don’t comply. Government run by corporations. Isn’t that fascism? They claim to have subsidies and exceptions for “poor” people, but look closely at that. The current versions of the plans seem to set that level using low income levels set by the Federal government (Federal Poverty Level). We were told the Federal Poverty Level is $10,400. So lets get this straight – if you are just above that level, you are required to buy insurance, as at last check, that insurance will cost nearly as much or even more than that total income of $10,400 (per person). Is that per person? Or per family? The numbers are absurd. There was also a claim that if the insurance costs more than 10% of your income (and I think that more than 100% does qualify as more than 10%), there might be some subsidies. The subsidies were not explained, however it probably means that the money comes out of our taxes for the subsidies. So our taxes essentially go straight to the insurance companies. But they claim they are not raising taxes, so that means something else important will be cut, and no doubt privatized.
All these plans seem designed to fail so that the insurance companies can say “see”, we told you that a public option won’t work. Hopefully the public is smart enough to see through that and demand single-payer.
The bottom line is that single payer (more specifically Universal Public-Funded Single-Payer User-Selected Provider Basic Health Care with no insurance company involvement in basic care) is the only plan that will work for “we the people”. So lets make it clear to our elected “representatives” that we will accept no less and it must be done now. Further, lets be adults about it and pay for it with tax increases knowing full well that those taxes will be 30% to 50% less than what we are now paying the insurance companies.
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The best country in the world should have the best health care in the world.