“That is the dirty little secret many liberals have avoided saying out loud for fear of aiding the president’s enemies, at a time when the ideal of universal health care needed all the support it could get,” filmmaker and activist Michael Moore writes in The New York Times on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately,” Moore continues, “this meant that instead of blaming companies like Novartis, which charges leukemia patients $90,000 annually for the drug Gleevec, or health insurance chief executives like Stephen Hemsley of UnitedHealth Group, who made nearly $102 million in 2009, for the sky-high price of American health care, the president’s Democratic supporters bought into the myth that it was all those people going to get free colonoscopies and chemotherapy for the fun of it.”
Moore identifies the pro insurance industry agenda of the plan as the Affordable Care Act’s “fatal flaw.” Obamacare was originally “Romneycare,” conceived by the right-wing Heritage Foundation in order to keep the private insurance industry whole. By 2017, Moore tells us, the president’s customers will be funneling more than $100 billion annually to insurance companies. And we can be sure they’ll use some of the haul to try to privatize Medicare.
The president’s plan works in scattershot, Moore notes. While some will receive lower-cost treatment, others will continue to pay sky-high premiums. To cover the gaping holes in the program, Moore says everyone needs to pitch in for the effort to gain universal quality health care. He writes in the Times:
Those who live in red states need the benefit of Medicaid expansion. It may have seemed like smart politics in the short term for Republican governors to grab the opportunity offered by the Supreme Court rulings that made Medicaid expansion optional for states, but it was long-term stupid: If those 20 states hold out, they will eventually lose an estimated total of $20 billion in federal funds per year — money that would be going to hospitals and treatment.
In blue states, let’s lobby for a public option on the insurance exchange — a health plan run by the state government, rather than a private insurer. In Massachusetts, State Senator James B. Eldridge is trying to pass a law that would set one up. Some counties in California are also trying it. Montana came up with another creative solution. Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat who just completed two terms, set up several health clinics to treat state workers, with no co-pays and no deductibles. The doctors there are salaried employees of the state of Montana; their only goal is their patients’ health. (If this sounds too much like big government to you, you might like to know that Google, Cisco and Pepsi do exactly the same.)
All eyes are on Vermont’s plan for a single-payer system, starting in 2017. If it flies, it will change everything, with many states sure to follow suit by setting up their own versions. That’s why corporate money will soon flood into Vermont to crush it. The legislators who’ll go to the mat for this will need all the support they can get: If you live east of the Mississippi, look up the bus schedule to Montpelier.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
LaDawna's pics (CC BY 2.0)