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This Isn’t Reform, It’s Robbery

Posted on Aug 24, 2009
AP / Bob Child

Protesters, in front of health insurer Aetna’s headquarters, hold signs with the company’s profit for 2007’s first quarter, $434 million. The company would report $27.6 billion in revenue for the year and $31 billion for the following year.

By Chris Hedges

Percentage change since 2002 in average premiums paid to large US health-insurance companies: +87%

Percentage change in the profits of the top ten insurance companies: +428%

Chances that an American bankrupted by medical bills has health insurance: 7 in 10

—Harper’s Index, September 2009

Capitalists, as my friend Father Michael Doyle says, should never be allowed near a health care system. They hold sick children hostage as they force parents to bankrupt themselves in the desperate scramble to pay for medical care. The sick do not have a choice. Medical care is not a consumable good. We can choose to buy a used car or a new car, shop at a boutique or a thrift store, but there is no choice between illness and health. And any debate about health care must acknowledge that the for-profit health care industry is the problem and must be destroyed. This is an industry that hires doctors and analysts to deny care to patients in order to increase profits. It is an industry that causes half of all bankruptcies. And the 20,000 Americans who died last year because they did not receive adequate care condemn these corporations as complicit in murder.


Square, Site wide

The current health care debate in Congress has nothing to do with death panels or public options or socialized medicine. The real debate, the only one that counts, is how much money our blood-sucking insurance, pharmaceutical and for-profit health services are going to be able to siphon off from new health care legislation. The proposed plans rattling around Congress all ensure that the profits for these corporations will increase and the misery for ordinary Americans will be compounded. The corporate state, enabled by both Democrats and Republicans, is yet again cannibalizing the Treasury. It is yet again pushing Americans, especially the poor and the working class, into levels of despair and rage that will continue to fuel the violent, proto-fascist movements leaping up around the edges of American society. And the traditional watchdogs—those in public office, the press and citizens groups—are as useless as the perfumed fops of another era who busied their days with court intrigue at Versailles. Canada never looked so good.

The Democrats are collaborating with lobbyists for the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry and for-profit health care providers to craft the current health care reform legislation. “Corporate and industry players are inside the tent this time,” says David Merritt, project director at Newt Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation, “so there is a vacuum on the outside.” And these lobbyists have already killed a viable public option and made sure nothing in the bills will impede their growing profits and capacity for abuse.

“It will basically be a government law that says you have to buy their defective product,” says Dr. David Himmelstein, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a founder of Physicians for a National Health Plan. “Next the government will tell us a Pinto in every garage, a lead-coated toy to every child and melamine-laced puppy chow for every dog.”

“Health insurance is not a race to the top; it is a race to the bottom,” he told me from Cambridge, Mass. “The way you make money is by abusing people. And if a public-option plan is not ready and willing to abuse patients it is stuck with the expensive patients. The premiums will go up until it is noncompetitive. The conditions that have now been set for the plans include a hobbled public option. Under the best-case scenario there will be tens of millions [who] will remain uninsured at the outset, and the number will climb as more and more people are priced out of the insurance market.”

The inclusion of these corporations in the crafting of health care legislation has not stopped figures like Rick Scott, the former head of the Columbia/HCA health care company, from attempting to sabotage any plan. Scott’s company was forced to pay a $1.7 billion fraud settlement—the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history—for stealing hundreds of millions from taxpayers by overbilling for medical care. Scott, who made his money primarily from Medicare, is now saturating the airwaves in a reputed $20 million ad campaign that is stoking the anger and fear of many Americans. His ads are coordinated by CRC Public Relations, the group that masterminded the “Swift boat” attacks against 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

“They are using our money to campaign against us,” Dr. Himmelstein told me. “The money for these commercials came from health care interests that collect fees from American patients. We experienced this before in Massachusetts. We ran a ballot initiative for universal health care in 2000 and the insurance industry spent $5 million on it, including the insurance company I am insured by. They used my premiums to smear an idea that 70 percent in Massachusetts, according to polls, favored before this smear campaign. Universal health care was narrowly defeated.”

The bills now in Congress will, at best, impose on the country the failed model in Massachusetts. That model will demand that Americans buy health insurance from private insurers. There will be some subsidies for the very poor but not for anyone above a modest income. Insurers will be allowed to continue to jack up premiums, including for the elderly. The bankruptcies due to medical bills and swelling premiums will mount along with rising deductibles and co-payments. Health care will be beyond the reach of many families. In Massachusetts one in six people who have mandated insurance still say they cannot afford care, and 30,000 people were evicted from the state program this month because of budget cuts. Expect the same debacle nationwide.

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By TAO Walker, August 24, 2009 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

Years ago, visiting the U.S. capitol with a delegation of Native Peoples, this old Indian had the good fortune to run-into a friend from BIA boarding school days who’d gone-on to a ‘career’ in government, and was then a staffer for the Senate Interior committee.  She offered the following bit of hard-earned wisdom:  It is the real aim of most elected politicians not to actually ‘solve’ any problems, but to be perceived by ‘the public’ as wrestling heroically (but interminably) with them.  This could be, she opined, because deep-down they’ve realized the Pandora’s Box of dire predicaments overwhelming the world’s domesticated peoples here in these latter days are not, at their roots, ‘political’ anyway.

Some would characterize them as “spiritual,” but the religiossifaction of the term renders it of dubious usefulness.  “Community” is another word, essentially biological in its meaning, once helpful in discussing the Human condition, but one also long since bastardized to the point of not just mere worthlessness but actual toxcicity.

One sees daily illustrated here on ‘truthdig’ both the CONtrived, systematic impoverishment of language, and the degenerative effects of that on good-faith efforts by sincere “individuals” to get some kind of ‘workable’ understanding of the condition their peoples’ CONdition is in.  This cacaphonous “healthcare debate” is but the latest example of so much “....sound and fury signifying nothing.”

Columnists and commenters alike are gripped in at-least a couple of gross misCONceptions that prevent their coming to any kind of grounded stance relative to what it is afflicting them so grievously.  One is the essential nature of their captivity….its processes and purposes.  Another is their widespread ignorance of the organic function of Humanity in the Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth.

So they are reduced to spinning their rhetorical wheels in vain attempts to make the CONtraption CONfining them marginally less intolerable….even as the thing itself enters the ‘terminal’ phase of its own machinations, intended by its owner/operators to wring-out all the ‘redundancy’ presently bogging-down their command-and-CONtrol apparatus.  This means NONE of its dwindling ‘resources’ will be ‘wasted’ on surplus two-legged livestock their tormentors are in the midst of preparing to do-without in-any-case.

A ‘stampede’ of panicked “individuals” is to be avoided, however, so all the front-men-and-women CONtinue to go through the motions of keeping their CONstituents hoping against “HOPE!” that something actually beneficial to them might somehow yet emerge from the ‘corridors of “power”.’  Nothing will, though, because nothing can.  There’s nothing there.

The only Way our tame Sisters and Brothers can have even a GhostDancers’ chance of weathering this shit-storm is to get together where they actually live-and-breathe, and help each other.  No “salvation” is coming from Capitol Hill or the state-house or city hall.  No ‘divine’ hero on a white horse will come charging down from ‘above,’ either.

Domestication is what’s killing them.  More-and-more-and-more-of-the-same will not cure them.

The Medicine is in us surviving free wild Peoples….of every kind.  Cattle (and chattel) are only make-believe….like everything about “civilization.”  The ‘bobwire’ fencing them in is all in their heads, too.


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By cryptoman, August 24, 2009 at 11:22 am Link to this comment

To be or not to be. Or as this corporate structure puts it,‘can you afford to live’? This is their ‘New World Order’, of, by,and for the corporate elitists & those who can afford it. It excludes the disabled, who are considered ‘unfit’ by these boardrooms to be insured,if not to breathe the same air.          Where large sums of money mix with corporate boardrooms,the rights of the less fortunate,be they elderly,out-of-work,the disposessed or the disabled always get murdered.

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By Kidney Patient, August 24, 2009 at 10:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If any of the current proposals, as written or which are (shudder) after reconciliation worse than now, passes, I will not be able to live to see my 50th birthday, which. Is less than a year from now. I depend on ongoing medical care to stay alive, but these proposals will put it out of reach. How many others share my situation?

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By truedigger3, August 24, 2009 at 10:38 am Link to this comment

I hope that this healthcare “reform” fiasco has shown any doubter how fraud and sham is Obama and the Democrats.
It was clear for a long time that there is no REAL difference between the Democrats and Republicans and both of them serve only the interest of the moneyed/corporate elite with no regard whatsoever for the wellbeing of the common people.
I add my voice to the voices calling for a third party.

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By Ives, August 24, 2009 at 10:28 am Link to this comment

Remember the intense propaganda campaign to get us into the Iraq War? Bush and company wanted their war. They badgered, lied, and used every trick in the book to get it. And they did. They even convinced much of the public to support the war as a national necessity for a time.

If Obama truly wanted to push through real reform of the health care delivery system he could have mounted an equally strong campaign to get it done. And unlike Bush he would not have had to rely on lies to accomplish the goal. The simple facts would have more than sufficed.

That this was not done by Obama and the Democratic Party despite having an overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate, plus control of the Executive branch demonstrates the folly of the Left adopting a strategy of electing Democrats and then hoping their rhetoric will match their practice. It never does.

People suggest a 3rd party, but that is only a small part of the solution. What’s really needed are citizen initiatives that go beyond imploring the government to do the right thing. Whatever forms these initiatives take, they must be targeted in such a way that they cannot be ignored.

For example, the French public will occasionally strike if the powers that be ignore their needs for too long. The strike throws enough sand into the gears of the economic machine to force the government/industrial section to reckon with the strikers situation. Color of Change has made Glenn Beck’s life more difficult with a campaign of confronting his sponsors with Beck’s more outrageous babble and asking them to distance themselves from it. The cause of removing Beck is rather trivial in the grand scheme of things, but the tactics are not. Fox can’t ignore its own pocketbook.

If our system stays blind to the needs of its citizens, then it needs to be periodically reminded of its dependence on those citizens. Collectively we wield a lot of power. We have to learn how to use it.

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By Folktruther, August 24, 2009 at 10:24 am Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt, you are aboslutely right.  It is not the parties or electoral system that is the first need for change, but the truth system.  YOU CANNOT HAVE AN ELECTORAL SYSTEM THAT REPRESENTS THE PEOPLE IF THE RULING POWER STRUCTURE CONTROLS THE LEARNED AND MASS MEDIA AND OTHER TRUTH ORGANS.

If both the intellectual and emotional truth is profoundly distorted- as it has been historically in the US- the population will not support a party that promotes their historical interests.  It is necessary for the people to emotionally identify with the reality based historical truth in order to promote their interests in the future.  Otherwise the American people will be deluded, diverted and misled-as we have been- to identify with the interests of the power structure rather than those of the population.

Howe can Obama fight for socialized medicine- and that is what is wanted even if Americans are too chickenshit to call it that- if the entire truth industry vehemently attacks it.  Including the Progessive truth media.  Eventually there must be a realization that the American truth system is broken, and it is fundamental to all other systems: the economic system, the legal system, the electoral system. 

Unfortunately the simple historical truth sbubverts the American Dream and Americans therefore do not emotionally accept it.

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By ardee, August 24, 2009 at 9:52 am Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt, August 24 at 11:49 am #

As I have pointed out before, we have plenty of viable parties, it is the system that needs to be changed. It keeps out all the other parties for a reason.

An important point to those of us who see the failure of the two party system to represent we the people. When one considers the way money controls the process, both in the election as well as in the influencing of Legislators via campaign funding, one must consider the refusal of the two parties to approach necessary change.

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By TheNinth, August 24, 2009 at 9:34 am Link to this comment

Along the lines of PSmith’s report on Gore Vidal & the American
Property Party (and, in Congress, the American Incumbent Party), there
is this, pointed out by Howard Zinn (but without the citation, which I
had to find on my own), from Adam Smith a few years further back:

  Laws and government may be considered in this and indeed in every
case as a combination of the rich to oppress the poor, and preserve to
themselves the inequality of the goods which would otherwise be soon
destroyed by the attacks of the poor, who if not hindered by the
government would soon reduce the others to an equality with
themselves by open violence.

Adam Smith- Tuesday, Feb. 23, 1763,  lecture series on Laws &
Jurisprudence. Page 208, facsimile (PDF) version, vol 5, Complete Adam
Smith, Glasgow Edition, available free at OLL (online liberty library),

  If you have the time, it’s interesting to read or re-read Smith with
the assignment of trying to fathom how anyone could in good faith call
him “the father of free trade” or of “free markets” after having read his
inquiry into the wealth of nations. Seems Allen Greenspan & others
were willfully and cynically misquoting the man.  Maybe father of the
systematic study of economies, but he was sure as hell no champion of
the kind of corporate welfare economy we now have—or “privatization
of wealth, rape of the rest of the world.”

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By Randall Klopping, August 24, 2009 at 9:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have lost all faith in President Obama as rather than sit down and fight the corruption as he promised, he seems to have joined it.  How can he go from running his campaign talking about how broken our government is to suddenly claiming that it can now take on a huge new load?  In the background it is the programs for children, elderly and the disabled that are being further sacrificed as his people rob from those budgets in an effort to juggle the books so he can claim to be able to pay for this.

The latest is the news that Social Security will not be making cost of living increases for the next two years which is what I chose to write about this morning -

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By mackTN, August 24, 2009 at 9:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m disappointed in the leadership (lack of) spearheading health reform. In Washington, I suspect the failures have something to do with campaign finance, the fact that too many of our elected officials drink at the trough of big business.  It’s time to insist that our elected ones STOP TAKING MONEY FROM LOBBYISTS.  Define CONFLICT OF INTEREST!  How can you take money from insurance or banks or drugs then create legislation that they view as hurting them?  i.e. biting the hands that feed you? 

But I feed u, too.  And the spirit of democracy requires complete and undivided loyalty to ME, the U.S. citizen, not to the CORPORATION. 

But we let them get away with it.  We keep voting for them without yelling at them.  Without threatening them.  Without even calling or writing a note.  Democracy fails in a passive environment. 

I want a single payer system. Absent that, I want a public option.  Anything less than a public option, I don’t want; it won’t be reform, it’ll be capitulation.

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By felicity, August 24, 2009 at 9:06 am Link to this comment

Well at least the naked greed of some House and Senate members has finally been exposed in all its ugliness.  The obstructionists have declared loudly and clearly that affordable health-care for all Americans isn’t going to happen.  In fact, the obstructionists are advertising their naked greed by saying in essence that millions of American people can go to hell, and, if the obstructionists can help it, they’ll never have access to affordable health-care. 

(If there were an Evil-Gauge mounted on the wall of Congress the needle would register Full.)

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By Night-Gaunt, August 24, 2009 at 8:49 am Link to this comment

As I have pointed out before, we have plenty of viable parties, it is the system that needs to be changed. It keeps out all the other parties for a reason. In any normal world both the Democrats and Republicans would be at the sidelines but because they control the apparatus to get national exposure and to get elected none of the other parties have that ready access. You can create as many parties as you want but if you don’t get that national exposure then you will fail.

Until we can break this ultimate of monopolies they will give us inferior things while making their patrons ever richer and giving them what they want. And screw the rest of us if we don’t have enough money to bribe our way to good health care.

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By Blackspeare, August 24, 2009 at 8:48 am Link to this comment

The medical care/insurance industry knows that any governmental, universal, single payer, public option or whatever you want to call it will eventually lead to their demise and so their fervor to head it off at the pass (no pun intended).  Should by chance a public option is included, it will be initially populated by the poor, the unemployed, and those that can’t get insurance otherwise.  However, in time, businesses will shed their coverage and the ranks of those on the public option will swell and end the reign of the insurance industry.

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By konnie, August 24, 2009 at 8:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We should push a one line bill.  one line.  not 1000 pages!

The age of ilegibility for medicare shall be reduced
to birth effective immediately.

and maybe a “screw you insurance company” happy face.

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By jmr, August 24, 2009 at 8:25 am Link to this comment

Finally, somebody seconds Dr. Relman, who opposes Obamacare as a cure worse than the illness.  And it will be as long as the Democrats keep bending over for the industry bloodsuckers.

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By engineer, August 24, 2009 at 8:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hmmmm.  An outlandish 434 million in profits for Aetna.  Certainly unconscionable.  UNCONSCIONABLY LOW!  Do the math.  2.7 billion in revenue, with 434 million in profits.  That is a 1.57 % profit on revenue.  One and a half pennies per dollar.  This is no basis at all for an intelligent argument that there is price gouging.are   And no, I neither work for nor own Aetna.
I ask all to think about it.  If Socialist governemnt run health care is such a great idea, why are many on the arguments offered in favor of it full of misleading, emotional statements, such as the one above, that won’t bear scrutiny?  Why are a majority of Americans against it?  Do you really believe turning our medical system over to the GOVERMENT WILL REDUCE COST AND/OR IMROVE QUALITY?  And most important of all, how come so many United States socialists learned nothing from the Soviet Union, a socialist nation of unimaginable natural resources and wealth where soccialism keep, literally, HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS IN MISERY AND FOURTH-WORLD POVERTY FOR GENERATION AFTER GENERATION, UNTIL THE WHOLE ROTTEN SYSTEM COLLAPSED UNDER ITS OWN CORRUPT WEIGHT?

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, August 24, 2009 at 8:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

democracynow reported today that insurance premiums for
average American families will increase by 94% by 2020. 
The cost will be $23,800 per year.  Nothing in the
current health care plan before congress will prevent
this near doubling of premiums in ten years.

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By Anarcissie, August 24, 2009 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

I think Mr. O and the rest of the Democratic Party establishment are treading on pretty thin ice now.

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By bane-richter, August 24, 2009 at 7:43 am Link to this comment

Another compelling piece by Hedges, above the hurl-inducing tripe of Dionne, blasting an appeal: “Obama saved the world!”
Fascinating - you have 2 vastly different writers on ‘Dig - one could be writing for FAUX, the other appears to be an actual reporter.

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By Jim Yell, August 24, 2009 at 6:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am proud to have voted for the Obama of the elections, but his Presidency is beginning to look like the bait and switch practice of the Clintons. This might be because he has relied too much on experience from the Clinton Presidency.

It is hard to understand the support that the opposition to National Health Care can be coming from people with marginal incomes and families. People most at risk from the continuing the “For Profit” abuse of peoples misfortunes. Stuffing more money that could be spent on more healthcare into the pockets of manipulators and investors makes no sense.

The increasing revelation that the corporations own our elected officials makes our claims of civilization and democracy a farce.

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By teadrinker, August 24, 2009 at 6:18 am Link to this comment

Yes, now the question is what force will defeat powers like the Insurance and Drug companies or any other powers that have a financial stranglehold on truly Democratic processes? When enough of the constituents of this Capitalistic system are disaffected, then those people, lacking a political solution, will seek the only remedy that remains. I don’t wish for this.

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By Bldng4Jstc, August 24, 2009 at 5:23 am Link to this comment

For anyone looking for something to support:

I have no idea how successful this will be but thought
I would spread the word.

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By Everest Mokaeff, August 24, 2009 at 5:20 am Link to this comment

So far health care reform seems to run aground torpedoed by Insurance culprits. I can understand why Wall Street Medoffs are fearful of any legislation with public option embedded. I can see the reason behind corporate crooks why they don’t want compete with non-profit plans. I can see why Glenn Beck rages against socialist utopia while Rush Limbaugh evangelically prophecies the fascism taking over ol’ good America. I understand why Sarah “Non-quitter” Palin does not want “Death Panels” to decide who’s to live and who’s to die. The only thing I do not understand is the US president Barack Obama.
Mr Obama has set up the following objectives:
(1) to give all Americans insurance coverage;
(2) to make room for competition to drive “premiums” down;
(3) to lower overall cost of health care in GDP;
to get rid of ugly “pre-existing conditions” as excuse to deny insurance.
The problems started mounting right there. The first democratic bill of Sen. Edward Kennedy was to add only 15 millions of Americans to the insurance umbrella at the cost of 1 Trillion dollars over the next decade. It failed to address many other avows President made in regard to health care reform. Back then President seemed to fail to fairly assess the damage done to his ambitious agenda - he blindly kept holding to the same suicidal course.
Instead of speaking straight forwardly to the people of US of America he preferred to distance himself from the battle leaving all tactical maneuvering to his staffers and Robert Gibbs. In a while there were dozens of bills circulating on the House floor and in Senate. The one with “death panel” preposition in had been introduced, according to lame and belated explanations of Mr Obama, by some GOP congressman. Excellent.
Did Mr President really hoped that after Stimulus Package bipartisan fiasco at the Capital Hill he could rely on GOP constructive approach to the issue after many of its members had unabashedly wished him to fail? Why President let such an important issue spin out of control?
All over the board we can hear succinctly orchestrated talking points of “death panels”, “bureaucrat standing before you and your doctor”, “feds unplugging grannies” - that list can run for quite long. On the other side of the spectrum we can see Mr Obama speaking at length in generalities about need for health care reform, but as it comes to details he steps back. Look, if a student can easily take President aback with a simple question on how private corporations can compete with non-for-profit health care plans - it’s indicative of something.
Barack Obama said that he would like to leave this world better than it was when he came in. Out of four objectives of health care reform outlined above, so far he can credit none as accomplished. He lost momentum completely as well as the initiative but he still has a chance to succeed.
If Mr Obama wants to stay in US history as the first African-American President he may keep letting crooks from corporations run America towards inevitable bankruptcy. If he cares only about midterm elections and how many more blue dogs will jump in on the board he may continue people with AR-15s ply the health care reform legislation.
With ratings plunging towards bottom line approval, Mr Obama seems to be out of options except push through comprehensive health care reform where there is no place for crooks to profit on the sick, and elderly, and ignorant. If this is called a socialism, it is still way better off than a contemporaneous system where regular guys are to die in the name of high profits on Wall Street. Now it’s up to you, Mr President, what way would you like us to remember you.

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By RdV, August 24, 2009 at 4:51 am Link to this comment

  The Right complains about taxes but we will be forced to tithe to the Insurance companies while “entitlements” are slashed—first with medicare cuts targeting the poorest seniors, followed by restrictions on Social security:

  These actions are running completely under the radar while folks are blinded by partisan accusations drawing false lines in the debate. When the subject came up on some Sundat political gab fest, about Bauchus being funded by Insurance and drug companies, the panel of pundits shrugged it off as if it was business as usual.
This is the true “death panel”. This is “killing Grandma” while the transfer of wealth continues unabated and the quality of life for the rest of us goes into decline.

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By RdV, August 24, 2009 at 4:49 am Link to this comment

Absolutely will be there.
  The Right complains about taxes but we will be forced to tithe to the Insurance companies while “entitlements” are slashed—first with medicare cuts targeting the poorest seniors, followed by restrictions on Social security:

  These actions are running completely under the radar while folks are blinded by partisan accusations drawing false lines in the debate. When the subject came up on some Sundat political gab fest, about Bauchus being funded by Insurance and drug companies, the panel of pundits shrugged it off as if it was business as usual.
This is the true “death panel”. This is “killing Grandma” while the transfer of wealth continues unabated and the quality of life for the rest of us goes into decline.

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By Kay Johnson, August 24, 2009 at 4:47 am Link to this comment

I agree—“This isn’t reform, it’s robbery!”

Another upwards shift of wealth into the coffers of the already very wealthy CEOs and other executives of the health insurance industry, aided and abetted by our very own corrupt elected officials.

They have no shame!

“If we do not recognize the need to establish a third party to fight for us now, when will we?”—Ardee

The time is NOW!

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By GEM_in_Orange, August 24, 2009 at 4:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why settle for Medicare?  VA for Everyone!

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By thebeerdoctor, August 24, 2009 at 3:37 am Link to this comment

This is Chris Hedges at his most honest and courageous reporting. He points to the real problems and reveals what sniveling cowards so many “news people” really are.

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By Outraged, August 24, 2009 at 3:00 am Link to this comment

Medicare for All is the only sensible, cost-effective, universal healthcare option.  This video explains many of the questions most people have about Medicare for All (single-payer).

From the LA Times:
“The half-dozen leading overhaul proposals circulating in Congress would require all citizens to have health insurance, which would guarantee insurers tens of millions of new customers—many of whom would get government subsidies to help pay the companies’ premiums.

It’s a bonanza,” said Robert Laszewski, a health insurance executive for 20 years who now tracks reform legislation as president of the consulting firm Health Policy and Strategy Associates Inc.

Consumer advocates argue that a lower government minimum might quickly become the industry standard, placing a greater financial burden on patients and their families.

“These are a bad deal for consumers,” said J. Robert Hunter, a former Texas insurance commissioner who works with the Consumer Federation of America.

Meanwhile, companies would probably see a benefit by providing less insurance “per premium dollar,” Hunter said.

“It would be quite a windfall,” said Wendell Potter, a former executive at Cigna insurance company who has become an industry whistle-blower.”,0,2392720.story

And this from Huffpo:
“Without health care reform, health insurance premiums could almost double by 2020, according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund, a 90-year-old non-profit health care charity.

According to “Paying the Price: How Health Insurance Premiums Are Eating Up Middle-Class Incomes,” employer-sponsored family plans will rise from an average cost of $12,298 in 2008 to $23,842 in 2020 (the same coverage would have cost close to $9,200 in 2003) if health-care costs continue to rise at the current rate.

The study found that:

The rapid rise in health insurance premiums has severely strained U.S. families and employers in recent years.”

What will people do…? They can’t pay it NOW….  Something much more viable than simply the public option has to be done, this thing is over the top.

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By ardee, August 24, 2009 at 2:54 am Link to this comment

It is important to understand that the American consumer is not being aided by either political party in this fight. Both parties are wedded to the campaign funds distributed by the Health Care Industry and have forsaken us all.

If we do not recognize the need to establish a third party to fight for us now, when will we?

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By godistwaddle, August 24, 2009 at 2:38 am Link to this comment

Hey, capitalism, we are told by capitalists, is essential for the United States, its form of government, for all good things, including, i suppose, a flowery afterlife.  Instead of hanging bankers and insurance executives, we further enrich them, that they may continue to rape us, world without end.

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By Scott Starr, August 24, 2009 at 12:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well, I have been looking for a legitimate response to this proposed healthcare legislation.  The debate thus far had been clouded by the fallacious “death panels’ arguments, the charges of socialism and the comparisons to Hitler.  I had been undecided somewhat on what to think of the proposal.  What has been presented here is a fair treatment of the facts and a reasonable argument as to why the plan is not a good one.  Its disappointing and hard to hear because reform is so needed.  Thanks for the insight.

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