The Senate Health Care Bill – Defrauding Democracy

December 16, 2009

By Padmini Arhant

The Senate is moving forward to wrap up the ‘historic legislation’ as a Christmas gift to their campaign financiers, the insurance industry. Although, the sound bites deceptively imply the magnanimous favor to the American public, the hostage in the ‘so-called’ health care reform, the reality is examine worthy.

The fact of the matter is the bill cannot be any more hostile to the American people as the taxpayers, the consumers and the electorate in a democracy. It targets the employers i.e. the small businesses, medium and large corporations, the dwindling middle-class and the struggling working class forced to buy private insurance with penalty imposition on the employers and individuals along with the Medicare expansion denial to senior citizens between the age group 55-64.

There is a bizarre component suggesting that it’s not compulsory for the large corporations to cover their employees. Nevertheless, the government assistance sought by the insurance companies to levy charges against the potential offenders. Similarly eligible workers provided with federal subsidies to buy private coverage. Ironically, the government intervention at this level is appreciated by the industry and their Senate representatives but prevented from selling the government run insurance program.

Should the women be spared in this category? Apparently not and concessions seemingly made to appease the Nebraska Democrat Senator Ben Nelson seeking maximum restrictions on abortion coverage in the renewed insurance market the legislation intend to set up. In addition, the Senator’s care for the industry extended to exempt them from the anti-trust laws.

The White House cheered the version and responded accordingly.

“Congressional allies were “on the precipice” of a historic accomplishment.

It is deficit-neutral. It bends the cost curve. It covers 30 million Americans who don’t have health insurance, and it has extraordinary insurance reforms in there to make sure that we’re preventing abuse.”

Let’s dissect the bill in the appropriate context.

Deficit neutral – The earlier Procedural Vote Bill appeared to be neutral. However, the current version with numerous industry-biased amendments is awaiting the congressional budget office confirmation on the cost neutrality.

Bends the cost curve – Yet to realize and once again falls back on the CBO determination.

Covers 30 million Americans – Reports from reliable sources affirm 10 millions. Despite owing the benefit of the doubt to the claim, the arbitrary 30 million are mandatorily required to purchase the private insurance in the absence of government run insurance program – the public option.

It’s beyond reasonable doubt that the offer would be initially made available at a teaser rate mimicking the notorious sub-prime mortgage pattern from the Wall Street counterpart, the financial institutions and then later on, the consumers hit with an extraordinary hike as captives in the system, a kind of defibrillator treatment to reset the industry into the exorbitant profit mode.

Insurance reforms preventing abuse – Alas, there is bipartisanship in this respect to include those with ‘pre-existing’ conditions otherwise excluded in the existing protocol. Even then the agreement reached after assurance that the benefactors, none other than the insurance companies absolutely gain from the inevitable customized premiums for the substrata with the anti-trust law exemption tied to the legislation.

Simply the bill is a mockery of the victims’ plight and clearly demonstrated in the kingmakers’ unabashed flattery of the insurance giants for their guarantee to promote the individual lawmakers aka lawbreakers’ political career. Never mind the bitter truth about 45,000 people dying due to the unaffordable and inadequate health care predominantly from the lack of universal system such as single payer adapted by most developed nations around the world.

With respect to funding the bill, it’s extracted from the projected Medicare spending cuts to a tune of $460 billion to health care providers, which translates into forcing patients to accept subsidized service. Alternatively, the seniors end up paying more for better if not quality care. Other derivatives are the Cadillac plan tax revenues including the payroll tax on individuals exceeding the $250,000 threshold.

Essentially, the carefully contrived bill primarily focuses on the insurance industry’s financial interest while ensuring the legislators’ political security at the expense of the vast majority. Thus clarifying the solemn union between Washington and Wall Street as inseparable soul mates.

Whereas for the main street the deal qualifies as the ‘historic scam’ rather than the ‘historic reform.’ Unfortunately, in the contemporary politics priorities are based on the personal justification failing to serve the greater good for all. Aiming to pass a dysfunctional legislation to fulfill a formality is an explicit assault on the intelligence of the millions of Americans who shared their heart wrenching experiences since the debate onset.

The truly meaningful health care reform is the single payer system that not only simplifies the process but also replaces the more than two thousand-page dossier admittedly ignored by the opposition with the remaining members merely glancing at the relevant information in the bill.

Besides, the single payer program comprehensively satisfies the needs in every aspect through the cost effective yet efficient superior care for all Americans irrespective of the socio economic barriers.

Therefore, it’s incumbent on Congress to heed to public plea and honor the democratic will in the health care legislation by transforming the house bill to a single payer format through reconciliation process as a warning that democracy can no longer be undermined by the cohort representing the Wall Street and Washington.

U.S. democracy is increasingly revealed vulnerable to undemocratic elements dominating the political, economic and social domain. It’s a ‘nuclear’ status for the modern democracy.

Hence, Congress must move forward to limit the Senate vote requirement to 51 from the prevailing 60 to eliminate the filibuster currently misused as a threat by the opportunist legislators defaulting on their constitutional duty towards their constituents and the nation.

Evidently, the Senate bill is a cosmetic presentation with the substance designed to exacerbate the American people trials and tribulations, meanwhile contributing to the insurance industry’s further prosperity aided by the narcissistic culture in Washington.

American people should rise and protest against the biggest charade in the form of Senate legislation authored by the insurance industry and demand Congress to approve the single payer system by jamming the communication channels via telephones, text message, emails, social networking sites, blogs etc., Remember, democracy is alive when you remain alert and active in the legislative process.

The powerful is powerless without the political capital accessible only through populace vote.

In conclusion, the American citizens should peacefully dissent the carte blanche to Wall Street and Washington and release America from the reform resistant political sycophants.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant


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