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Obama’s Health Care Bill Is Enough to Make You Sick

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Posted on Jul 11, 2010
White House / Pete Souza

By Chris Hedges

A close reading of the new health care legislation, which will conveniently take effect in 2014 after the next presidential election, is deeply depressing. The legislation not only mocks the lofty promises made by President Barack Obama, exposing most as lies, but sadly reconfirms that our nation is hostage to unchecked corporate greed and abuse. The simple truth, that single-payer nonprofit health care for all Americans would dramatically reduce costs and save lives, that the for-profit health care system is the problem and must be destroyed, is censored out of the public debate by a media that relies on these corporations as major advertisers and sponsors, as well as a morally bankrupt Democratic Party that is as bought off by corporations as the Republicans.

The 2,000-page piece of legislation, according to figures compiled by Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP), will leave at least 23 million people without insurance, a figure that translates into an estimated 23,000 unnecessary deaths a year among people who cannot afford care. It will permit prices to climb so that many of us will soon be paying close to 10 percent of our annual income to buy commercial health insurance, although this coverage will only pay for about 70 percent of our medical expenses. Those who become seriously ill, lose their incomes and cannot pay skyrocketing premiums will be denied coverage. And at least $447 billion in taxpayer subsidies will now be handed to insurance firms. We will be forced by law to buy their defective products. There is no check in the new legislation to halt rising health care costs. The elderly can be charged three times the rates provided to the young. Companies with predominantly female work forces can be charged higher gender-based rates. The dizzying array of technical loopholes in the bill—written in by armies of insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists—means that these companies, which profit off human sickness, suffering and death, can continue their grim game of trading away human life for money.

“They named this legislation the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and as the tradition of this nation goes, any words they put into the name of a piece of legislation means the opposite,” said single-payer activist Dr. Margaret Flowers when I heard her and Helen Redmond dissect the legislation in Chicago at the Socialism 2010 Conference last month. “It neither protects patients nor leads to affordable care.”

“This legislation moves us further in the direction of the commodification of health care,” Flowers went on. “It requires people to purchase health insurance. It takes public dollars to subsidize the purchase of that private insurance. It not only forces people to purchase this private product, but uses public dollars and gives them directly to these corporations. In return, there are no caps on premiums. Insurance companies can continue to raise premiums. We estimate that because they are required to cover people with pre-existing conditions, although we will see if this happens, they will argue that they will have to raise premiums.”

The legislation included a few tiny improvements that have been used as bait to sell it to the public. The bill promises, for example, to expand community health centers and increase access to primary-care doctors. It allows children to stay on their parent’s plan until they turn 26. It will include those with pre-existing conditions in insurance plans, although Flowers warns that many technicalities and loopholes make it easy for insurance companies to drop patients. Most of the more than 30 million people currently without insurance, and the 45,000 who die each year because they lack medical care, essentially remain left out in the cold, and things will not get better for the rest of us.

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“We are still a nation full of health care hostages,” Redmond said. “We live in fear of losing our health care. Millions of people have lost their health care. We fear bankruptcy. The inability to pay medical bills is the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy. We fear not being able to afford medications. Millions of people skip medications. They skip these medications to the detriment of their health. We are not free. And we won’t be free until health care is a human right, until health care is not tied to a job, because we still have an employment-based system, and until health care has nothing to do with immigration status. We don’t care if you are documented or undocumented. It should not matter what your health care status is, if you have a disease or you don’t. It should not matter how much money you have or don’t, because many of our programs are based on income eligibility rules. Until we abolish the private, for-profit health insurance industry in this county we are not free. Until we take the profit motive out of health care we cannot live in the way we want to live. This legislation doesn’t do any of that. It doesn’t change those basic facts of our health care system.”

Redmond held up a syringe.

“I take a medication that costs $1,700 every single month,” she said. “I inject this medication. It costs $425 a week for 50 milligrams of medication. I would do almost anything to get this medication because without it I don’t have much of a life. The pharmaceutical industry knows this. They price these drugs accordingly to the level of desperation that people feel. Billy Tauzin, the former CEO of [the trade organization of] Big Pharma, negotiated a secret deal with President Obama to extend the patents of biologics, this new revolutionary class of drugs, for 12 years. And Obama also promised in this deal that he would not negotiate drug prices for Medicare.”


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BarbieQue's avatar

By BarbieQue, July 12, 2010 at 3:26 am Link to this comment

Voters should remember a few things as we head into the election season.

First, remember that since January 2009, the Democrats have controlled the Presidency, the House and the Senate. They have had all the marbles and they’ve controlled the game.

Second, This Ruling Elite decided to put the Mandated Purchase of Private Health Insurance (enforced by the IRS) ahead of any kind of real job creation. Indeed, there’s Joey Biden saying forget it suckers, most jobs aren’t coming back. Priorities, Priorities. And thanks Joey.

link to screen capture of Obama campaign ad slamming Hillary for mandated insurance:
http://h.imagehost.org/0076/obama-attack-mailer-231w-300h.jpg

Thirdly, these Ruling Elite Democrats, when forced into actually answering the question of where the Federal Government gets the authority to order Citizens to purchase a product/service (which is insurance anyway?) from a For Profit company state that their authority comes from the Commerce Clause. Get that? Now “not engaging” in commerce falls under big brothers sphere of control. Surely if a (R) administration did that no (D) would complain about it, much less mention the Constitution. Right?

Here’s Pelosi in her own words (if you play it backwards she says “let them eat cake”, i swear it):
http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/55971

Lastly, everyone in this country need to remember this:

Doctors and Nurses were *arrested* for protesting exclusion of single payer advocates.  Maybe read that one more time, because if (R)epublicans had done that, the (D)emocrats would have marched upon the District of Columbia.

Read about the Arrest of Doctors and Nurses at a “Hearing”:

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/5/13/baucus_raucus_caucus_doctors_nurses_and

“Advocates of single-payer universal healthcare—the system favored by most Americans—continue to protest their exclusion from discussions on healthcare reform. On Tuesday, five doctors, nurses and single-payer advocates were arrested at a Senate Finance Committee hearing, bringing the total number of arrests in less than a week to thirteen.”

Please Remember these things this fall. And Dear Democrats: Keep on with the arrogance thing. It’s working wonders. Mean it!

Great article Mr. Hedges. Too bad 99% of our media was either bought and paid for or asleep reading press releases during this health insurance abortion. Many many people have no idea yet that they will now be required to file “proof of insurance” with the IRS.

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By Harry, July 12, 2010 at 2:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is the great American tragedy that is happening!

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By Steve E, July 12, 2010 at 2:15 am Link to this comment

Many people still believe they have the option somewhere down the road to begin
a revolt, sorry that option has gone. The corporate criminals are now in full
control. If you think your vote matters your dreaming. Any insurrection will be
shut down to the detriment of you and your family. Freedom and liberty have been
consumed and there is little left. Thanks Mr. Hedges for your continued insight,
you are very courageous.

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By eir, July 12, 2010 at 1:51 am Link to this comment

Whoahhhh….I meant “single payer” NOT, “public option” Obviously, some part of my brain confused the two.  I wonder why?  Orwell, can you help me on this?

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By eir, July 12, 2010 at 1:41 am Link to this comment

Yes, despite wide public support for a public option, Democratic Sen. Max Baucus didn’t want to use that potent political tool.  Neither did President Obama.  They ignored the will of the people. 

Now, at the annual governor’s meeting, Arnold Schwarzenegger was rolling out the message on auterity on a national stage.  The president’s debt commission heads, former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, and Bill Clinton’s Chief of staff, Erskine Bowles were there to back up Arnold’s message without the ubermensch aura that some girly-men find off putting.

The machine is still in power, and it grinds relentlessly on.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, July 12, 2010 at 1:24 am Link to this comment

Sorry but this isn’t even worth commenting on anymore.  We got screwed from day one and that continues.  Obama and all the crooks (our precious elected officials) have sold themselves to the highest bidders and that will not change.  The only way to fix this is to start over from the beginning ... not on healthcare but of government. Go back to day one and start over.  And destroy the corporate structure ... eliminate it completely so we don’t have to deal with this problem ever again.  As long as corporations exist we are all at risk.  Destroy them all ...

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