Now that health care reform has been tailored to the demands of Sen. Joe Lieberman, there’s real debate among progressives about whether it’s worth doing at all. Former DNC chairman and presidential candidate Howard Dean writes: “Any measure that expands private insurers’ monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health-care reform.”
Dean concludes that, “as it stands, this bill would do more harm than good to the future of America.” But he holds out hope that the measure can be improved before it is made into law.
Every concession made by liberal senators has been met with new demands by their conservative colleagues. The public option was whittled down to something that would cover just 4 million Americans. Last week, senators struck a deal to do away with the public option in favor of a national nonprofit insurance scheme and a Medicare buy-in for Americans as young as 55. Lieberman sank the deal shortly after it was announced.
It’s almost hard to believe pro-reform lawmakers are in the majority.
Still, the political left is not speaking with one voice on this issue. The Raw Story has collected some progressive counterpoints to Dean’s argument. —PZS
Howard Dean in The Washington Post:
If I were a senator, I would not vote for the current health-care bill. Any measure that expands private insurers’ monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health-care reform. Real reform would insert competition into insurance markets, force insurers to cut unnecessary administrative expenses and spend health-care dollars caring for people. Real reform would significantly lower costs, improve the delivery of health care and give all Americans a meaningful choice of coverage. The current Senate bill accomplishes none of these.
Real health-care reform is supposed to eliminate discrimination based on preexisting conditions. But the legislation allows insurance companies to charge older Americans up to three times as much as younger Americans, pricing them out of coverage. The bill was supposed to give Americans choices about what kind of system they wanted to enroll in. Instead, it fines Americans if they do not sign up with an insurance company, which may take up to 30 percent of your premium dollars and spend it on CEO salaries—in the range of $20 million a year—and on return on equity for the company’s shareholders. Few Americans will see any benefit until 2014, by which time premiums are likely to have doubled. In short, the winners in this bill are insurance companies; the American taxpayer is about to be fleeced with a bailout in a situation that dwarfs even what happened at AIG.
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