Public Opposition to Senate Health Care Bill

December 24, 2009

By Padmini Arhant

The Senate health care bill is about to seal the deal with the insurance and the drug companies reportedly having invested a significant proportion of the total worth $3.3 billion in lobbying Congress. Further, according to the Center for Responsive Politics the health insurance industry spent millions of dollars on the top five senators overseeing the senate health care bill.

Had not only the Senators delivered to the insurance industry and the Big Pharma by rejecting the people’s choices of a single payer system or the public option to induce real competition ensuring a windfall for everyone of them but also,

The reports confirm that these Senators stand by the oligarchs to grant the insurance industry viz. the Blue Cross Blue Shield a tax break and fee exemptions to a tune of $15 – $20 million a year in Nebraska alone.

Meanwhile, the estimated 46 states are expected to run out of funds for the unemployment payments by 2011.

Again, while the Democrats uphold the health care “reform” as a historic process, it’s a major victory for the same groups in the status quo. It’s reflected in the insurance industry’s latest stock performance that skyrocketed upon the precipitous progress of the ‘industry authored’ senate bill.

There are editorials, television appearances and political interviews favoring the senate bill with a call to embrace the rudimentary version on the argument that some action is better than inaction by highlighting the masqueraded cosmetic benefits that deserve scrutiny.

I agree that action is necessary particularly having worked extremely hard along with millions of fellow Americans in the health care debate. Nevertheless, the real victims in the current health care system will be worse off under the proposed legislation for the following reasons.

First, the health care legislation is hijacked by a handful of Senators threatening to kill the bill if it includes viable options to benefit the public against the industry they are rewarded to represent. Sadly, to the democracy’s demise, the elected officials engage in gerrymandering the national issue.

This is in reference to the ‘noble’ Democrats’ stance to boycott the bill against any elements such as the ‘public option,’ and/or the expansion of the Medicare eligibility as well as the women’s health rights, all of which has been eliminated to appease the selective opponents. It’s clearly indicative of the fact that the government of the people is run by the oligarchs through the revolving door for the mutual prosperity of the ‘K’ street.

At least with the Republican minority, there is no dispute about their role in any legislation and that is to unanimously grandstand the American public rather than protect the national interest. Interestingly the opposition dissolves when the republican political tactics like the filibustering and obstructionism converges with the conservative and moderate democrats’ traits, both hired by the lobbyists, who were once the legislators or the Congressional aides.

Furthermore, the White House lack of serious commitment throughout the process to defend the public interest comprehensively is yet another disturbing factor and raises legitimate concerns about the ‘K’ street phenomenon. It exemplifies the forgotten campaign pledge regarding transparency and accountability through the ‘Change we can believe in.’

It’s important to shed light on the core values claimed by the supporters of the current bill hastily approved to fulfill the legislative formality.

Despite the decision to rush the legislation by Christmas eve, i.e. December 24, 2009, it is confirmed that the main framework will not to be effective until 2013 under the House bill and 2014 in the Senate version,

The time lag leaves approximately 45 million Americans uninsured until such time enabling the insurers to continue with ‘business as usual.’

Accordingly, the legislation is bifurcated into the immediate and later i.e. 2013/2014 Plan.

Immediate Plan:

As per the immediate plan, the taxpayers will fund a $5 billion investment to assist only the “high risk” population who are uninsured for a period of six months and denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions to purchase private insurance in the industry dominant market place.

Under the existing condition, the taxpayers are already covering the bill for patients in that category usually treated in the emergency rooms in the county and federal/state funded hospitals and medical centers.

If the notion behind introducing such plan with a taxpayer funded private insurance is to incorporate the peripheral health care providers’ service represented by the AMA, besides allowing the insurance industry to reap profit at the taxpayer expense identified in the health care costs, then it satisfies the overall health care industry criteria in this legislation,

Moreover, in the absence of legislative enforcements on premiums, co-pays and deductibles, the cost benefit ratio is unknown.

Additionally, the taxpayers would provide financial relief to the seniors for their prescription drug costs considering the Senate Rx restrictions from Canada and elsewhere to comply with the Big Pharma demand. Apparently, the globalization concept subverted to let the protectionism strategy prevail in this respect.

Insurance companies are barred from dropping patients filing medical claims. It’s good because of the continuity. However, in practicality it doesn’t set parameters in terms of insurance costs guaranteed to be hiked by the industry without robust competition in the form of single payer or public option programs.

It would inevitably create the unaffordable situation exacerbated due to the supply and demand market forces coming into play from the mandatory insurance requirement on 30 million uninsured Americans upon the legislation coming into effect in 2013 or 2014.

Similarly, the eligibility extended to dependents up to age 26 on the family insurance plan. It helps young adults with health insurance under the family plan as long as the cost factor remains within the affordable range for the groups ineligible for Medicaid and federal subsidies since it’s unpredictable in a free market.
Legislation Effective Period – 2013 or 2014

Barring insurers from declining adult patients based on the pre-existing health conditions is a valid piece of legislation. Again, as referenced in the immediate plan there is no specification on the cost factor, which is expected to be much higher than the other plans unlike the universal Medicare program or the public option at the bare minimum.

Eligibility expanded on the Public insurance programs such as Medicaid would reduce the uninsured numbers. This is a government insurance program and the costs would be cheaper than the private products.

Federal subsidies provision to help the lower income groups buy insurance from the private sector. It’s a taxpayer compensation to insure the lower income individuals and families with the private insurance company, enlarging the clientele for the insurance industry.

For those who are self-employed including the individuals ineligible for Medicaid and Medicare, the legislation facilitates a marketplace with choices of private insurance offers through “non-profit” organization in a co-operative style preferred by the insurance industry, as it’s easier to dominate such outlets than the meaningful government insurance program like Medicare.

It’s not a true reform but instead a makeover with imprudent measures to accommodate the health care industry agenda. It’s a travesty to witness the will of the people in a democracy seeking real changes and meaningful legislation denied over the Washington and Wall Street contrived policy subjugated for profits and political salvation of the minority signifying that politics has no soul.

The bill is entirely funded by the taxpayers at every step of the way via federal aid and subsidies with the government laid infrastructure for the private insurance, pharmaceuticals and health care givers to thrive exponentially from the large consumer base.

What it means is, the health care industry have not surrendered to cost control. The cost factor has been the crucial component that primarily led to the health care reform.

Even though the CBO confirmed the deficit neutrality and subsequent savings over a decade on the Senate bill, it’s worth remembering that the revenues are derived from the proposed Medicare spending cuts at $460 billion along with the Cadillac plan tax revenues and the payroll tax on individuals exceeding the $250,000 threshold. Nowhere in the plan, there is any cost reduction commitment upon the legislation becoming effective, from the medical industrial complex.

Without a clue on the CPI (consumer price index) for products and services particularly the insurance and drug costs in 2013 or 2014 after adjusting for inflation, it’s hard to ascertain the real costs to be incurred by the consumer in the exclusively private health care system.

Whereas, in the government run public option, the guidelines are already available from the established Medicare and Veterans medical insurance programs to prepare the consumers from all different categories.

If the current system is considered flawed, then the one prepared by the Senate will not be a health care rather a nightmare for the American public and the economy with the insurance and the pharmaceutical industry CEO bonuses exploding beyond $700 million, otherwise history repeating itself in three to four years time from now.

When the legislation becomes effective in 2013 or 2014, the market monopoly will devour the exchange programs offered through the cooperatives evidenced in the present time. Already the forecasts of private industry dominance portends grave danger for the average consumers with minimal consumer rights, muddled state laws creating chaos in the out-of-state insurance exchange programs for California attributed to the lack of free market element, the real competition only available through government run single payer or the public option.

Upon careful review, the Senate bill benefits are minuscule compared to the drawbacks elevating the medical industrial complex as the winner without the counter force such as the government run insurance program, the public option to maintain deficit neutrality.

In the government run insurance, there will be firm negotiations with the hospital and the pharmaceutical industries paramount to mitigate costs and wasteful spending cited in the private insurance sector.

I urge the American public especially the grass roots supporters to rise to the occasion and strongly condemn the Republican minority and the conservative / moderate democrats’ threats against democracy and their deliberate failure to act in the best interest of the nation, the republic they are elected to serve with integrity, courage and solidarity.

Remember, the special interests will rein in on democracy until you let it happen. Unless every concerned citizen challenges the power and hold them accountable for defaulting on the legislative duty including campaign pledges, the human beings life standard will continue to deteriorate in the United States and the rest of the world.

It’s your civic responsibility and moral obligation towards yourself and your family burdened with the burgeoning national debts to reclaim your rights suppressed by the Washington power and Wall Street profits and demand that the following be enacted in the health care reform:

In fact, the single payer system should have been the option from the time the health care legislation was considered.

Nevertheless, the government run insurance program i.e. public option with affordable premiums to help the American public should replace the co-op exchange program that is being imposed at the insurance industry’s behest.

Medicare coverage be expanded from the age 55 onwards instead of the age 65.

Provide adequate federal funding to hospitals and medical centers across the nation treating uninsured patients as well as the lower income families who cannot afford to wait until 2013 or 2014.

Today the U.S. democracy is under siege with the health care legislation packaged by the health care industry and their paid representatives in the Senate and the House of Congress.

President Barack Obama was elected to bring about the change promised on the campaign trail.

Therefore, it’s incumbent on the Obama administration to do right by the people. The public do not support the current Senate version of the Health Care reform and it would be unconstitutional to proceed against the democratic will. If the Senate bill is passed then the demands placed on the House Bill with respect to public option should not be compromised during the conference.

Action against the democratic will would be disastrous for the democrats in the mid-term elections in 2010 and the re-election in 2012. The Congress members decision to part with the public and favor the special interests would be an inevitable political suicide rather than a political salvation.

The Senators hired by the special interests undermine the honorable principles of their colleagues in the United States Senate and the House of Congress. The unethical practices also marginalize the American public interest in the present and the future legislative process. This is the United States and not the Islamic Republic of Iran or the People’s Republic of China.

Finally, Health care reform is a matter of life and death. Politics and Profits must cease the speculative sport using the people as pawns.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant


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