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The Expansionist
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Picking Up the Gauntlet. Rightwing Republicans are willfully misrepresenting the currently proposed healthcare legislation as imposing a single-payer system, and have persuaded a lot of simpleminded people that the "public option" provision is at least a euphemism for and at worst a Trojan horse for enacting "single-payer" by stealth. Democrats are spending enormous amounts of time trying to undo the harm done by the Republicans' malicious lies. That is wasted effort. They can talk till they're blue in the face and not persuade anyone who wants to believe that Congress and the White House want single-payer.
What Democrats need to do is say to the Republicans, for all the Nation's people, of all classes and income levels, to hear:
OK, you want to debate single-payer? Fine, it's on. You say "public option" means "single-payer"? It does not, but we're thru with that. You don't want "public option". Fine. "Public option" is off the table. We ARE going for single-payer now, and we are going to ram it down your throats, because we have the votes, and the people want the simplicity and fairness of single-payer. We are going to pass this, and once it is in your throats, you will say, "This is DELICIOUS!"
Single-payer is simple; single-payer is efficient, single-payer is fair. Single-payer is cheaper for the Nation overall, and not just for individual payers of health insurance premiums, than what we have now, and gives the government the power of mass purchasing power and the authority to set maximum payments, which will finally bring down the preposterous and economically indefensible increases in healthcare costs — three times the rate of inflation overall, including increases in healthcare — that the "private option" has given us, this catastrophic nitemare of a "system" that has killed hundreds of thousands or even millions of Americans, and ruined millions financially and emotionally.
No longer will people die because they can't afford an organ transplant or bone-marrow transplant. No longer will people lose their house and suffer heart attacks from worry about medical bills from other medical conditions. The United States is going to join the civilized world, whether the savages among us on the Radical Right want it to or not. We are going to fite you on single-payer, and you are going to lose. We are going to use hard figures, dollars and cents, to show people how much the present "system" costs THEM as against how much LESS it will cost both them individually and the Nation as a whole to institute single-payer. We are going to show them how much easier it will be just to show up at your doctor's office or a hospital emergency room and simply give your name and Social Security number — that's it, no onerous forms to fill out except medical history, which you do ONCE and it follows you around to every hospital or doctor's office in the Nation thru electronic recordkeeping, so you never have to fill out another medical-history form for the rest of your life. You feel bad, and resting and eating right and drinking fluids doesn't solve the problem? You go to the doctor or hospital, tell them your name and Social Security number, they take care of you, and you go home — with NO BILL, no co-pay, nothing. Nothing arrives in the mail a few days later with astronomical charges to give you a heart attack or ulcer, and ruin you financially and even force you to sell your house and car to pay for healthcare. And all the money comes out of what you are already paying in income taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, excise taxes, and anything else you are already paying to the Federal Government. Any higher cost is taken care of by the rich and super-rich, whose taxes will go up. Don't worry about the rich. They can afford it, EASILY. They have all the money in the world, and we're just going to use some of it for better purposes than an 11th house, 2nd yacht, 13th car, 21st Armani suit, 37th designer gown, or 260th pair of shoes.
Why are Democrats pussyfooting around single-payer? Confront this issue head-on. Speak directly to the public:
Why would you want to defend a system that costs you a king's ransom, is insecure — you lose your job, you lose your insurance; you change your job, you may lose your insurance, or get a plan that costs more and provides less — and can let you die because the limits don't permit an organ transplant or ongoing care for an aggressive form of cancer? Do you own a health-insurance company? Do you even own stock in a health-insurance company? If not, why would you defend an industry that is content to have hundreds of thousands of Americans — maybe someday YOU — DIE each year so they can protect their PROFITS?
How much do you pay for health insurance each month? How much do you cough up for a "co-pay" each time you visit a doctor? How much does it cost you to go to the emergency room if you have an automobile accident or fall off a ladder while working at a Do It Yourself project at home? What portion of the cost of your prescriptions is left for you to pay after your insurance has covered as much as it's going to cover? Do you avoid going to the doctor, even when you feel really bad, because you don't want to or don't have the money to lay out for an extravagant co-pay? Has your share of your employer's healthcare coverage gone up in recent years? By how much? Have you multiplied thru by 12 the amount you pay each month, to see what it comes to in total, and compared that to your pretax and after-tax income?
Has anyone you know been denied health insurance by private companies? Has anyone you know of, in your community, had their health insurance run out when they needed extended, expensive care for an extremely serious disease or accident? Has anyone you know of DIED because a private insurer wouldn't pay for what the company called "experimental" treatments, or they cut off their reimbursements because the limit of coverage was exceeded?
Why should you care if the private health-insurance industry goes out of existence, or is reduced to providing supplemental insurance for catastrophic illness or injury above what single-payer will pay — if indeed there is anything single-payer won't pay? Why would you care about a greedy health-insurance company or the jobs of bean-counters who deliberately cut people off, even retroactively, so the company can make a few more cents of profit per share of stock?
Do you perhaps feel some kind of loyalty to a company you have been paying thousands of dollars to each year for years? If so, that is extremely misplaced loyalty. The company feels absolutely no loyalty to you. If you get too sick, they will cancel your insurance in a heartbeat — even if that means that your heart will stop beating soon thereafter. They don't care about YOU, not your health, not your life. Why would you care about THEM — and not even their health nor life, but just their PROFITS?
Properly framed, a debate on single-payer must end in crushing defeat for private health insurance and a total victory for single-payer. So why is the Democratic Party unwilling to go all-out to give Americans what the citizens of every other industrialized country in the world have?
Republicans characterize the present plan as single-payer, and somehow lead people to think that would be a bad thing, whereas it would actually be a WONDERFUL thing. So scrap "public option", which is willfully mischaracterized as "single-payer" anyway, and go for single-payer NOW. The typical American knows s/he is paying a fortune for health insurance, can lose coverage at any moment, either by losing their job or getting too sick. Almost no one has any vested interest in keeping for-profit health insurance companies rolling in dough. Democrats have nothing to gain from avoiding "single-payer", and everything to gain by taking it to the max. No guts, no glory.
(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,330 — for Israel.)

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