Monday, March 21, 2011

The Centerpiece of Obama's Public Opinion

Nearly every time I'm hard on President Obama, someone brings up the health care reform as his one great triumph. I've always considered it a compromise, and I've never been happy about how it forces Americans to become customers of a for-profit industry that has every motivation to never pay your health care costs. I don't like it, and I've been disappointed in the president because of it. His one great triumph? More like his first major loss.

The fact is, we have 50 million uninsured in this country, and over 45,000 deaths a year that stem from a lack of insurance (either none at all or not having enough or even being denied the coverage you supposedly already have). That is a public health crisis. It's not about privilege or illegal immigrants or whatever else the GOP wants you to believe it's about. It's about keeping the public body healthy and productive.

The "reform" never went far enough in the first place. And now it's being further dismantled. As of this month, there have been over 1000 waivers protecting inadequate plans granted by the administration (this affects 2.6 million Americans so far; 94% have been granted, but unions are being routinely denied). They have also told states they may reduce the number of people covered by Medicaid and reduce services provided. This despite the fact that Medicaid was supposed to expand under the "reform."

The simple fact is--and many of us saw this coming--the quality of insurance is going to have to be reduced in order to keep premiums affordable. Not that premiums aren't rising, anyway (20-60%). But hey, at least you'll get less coverage for more money. And--predictably again--there's talk of employee insurance falling by 3 million people by 2019 (this according to the CBO). So the "reform" isn't likely to stop sudden premium hikes, which is one of the things it was supposed to do. It's not going to stem the time of medical bankruptcies, either (it hasn't in Massachusetts). And since the administration referred to adequate insurance as "Cadillac plans," it seems obvious to me that they're not worried about quality here.

And even according to our esteemed HHS Secretary, it's permissible to cut benefits, require the poor to pay a higher share of costs, and reduce the number of people covered by Medicaid. More than half the states want permission to remove hundreds of thousands of people. Arizona alone wants to remove 250,000 people from Medicaid coverage, and the administration isn't going to stop them.

And the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan that was established? Only 12,000 have enrolled. You know why? Too expensive.

I think it's more obvious than ever that the "reform" merely protects the insurance industry against not maximizing their profits. Where is the Senator Obama who knew single-payer was the best (and cheapest) option? Back in the past, before $20 million in campaign donations from the insurance industry. That's all these people care about, Obama included. It's not about you. Not unless you can pay.

The only thing this "reform" is going to increase is the rate of suicides in people who can't afford the high cost of saving their own lives.


John Seven said...

Very well said. And I would like to point out that everyone keeps calling it the Massachusetts model, but here in Massachusetts WE HAVE A PUBLIC OPTION!!!! Health insurance is managed by the commonwealth and has a graduated pay scale PLUS most children get free coverage if desired. I wish Obama had enacted our healthcare plan for the country. As it is, he enacted crap.

Kal said...

I had this lucid dream the other night about Obama winning his second term with a huge democratic majority in the house and Senate and he went full retard on fixing these problems while regulating the insurance companies, big pharma and the military industrial complex. Then I woke up. It just never gets easier for you guys. The lobbyists sure got their money's worth with your congress. Public financing of elections and bad on lobbyist should be a priority. But that is your system and god forbid you ask for any kind of change.