Sunday, August 16, 2009

Health Care Reform Bullies May Be Winning

It looks like the bullies have told a sufficient number of lies for people to believe that a public option would be bad for America, that it would ration health care, that it would be too expensive, and that it would provide substandard quality care ... never mind that we have a number of programs that are currently run by the government — Medicare, VA health care, active military health care, just to name a few. Those governmental health care offerings haven't put the for-profit insurance corporations out of business, and they don't provide substandard care. Plus, medicare, as an example, has created a niche for a number of insurance companies who offer "supplemental" policies that extend coverage levels beyond what is covered through basic Medicare.

It also looks like the Party of Nope, with no real plan of their own, who is spreading one lie after another relative to the reform efforts, one distortion of facts after another, and disrupting one town hall meeting after another where concerned citizens are trying to get answers to their questions, is well on its way to scuttling health care reform for a second time. In his comments at a town hall meeting in Colorado, President Obama appears to be caving to the pressure to not provide a "public health care option" and is now leaning toward a bill that would help establish "not-for-profit health care cooperatives" instead.

Playing down their shift to embracing "not-for-profit cooperatives", Kathleen Sibelius, HHS Secretary has begun stressing that a government-run health care option is "not the essential element" in the health reform effort and that health care cooperatives could effectively compete with private insurers to potentially begin lowering health care costs. That however, remains to be seen. The Party of Nope, with its treasure trove of contributions from the health care industry securely in their pockets still has the opportunity to handicap the co-ops as the debate restarts anew in September.

Frankly, I don't know about you, but I don't think we can rely on the for-profit insurance companies to do those things that are needed to make health care affordable for ordinary Americans. Insurance companies are in the business to make money. After all, you can't pay those million dollar executive salaries with peanuts. That means they're going to do everything they can do to take your money. Then they'll turn around and do everything possible so as not to pay out any claims on that policy.

If anyone is guilty of "rationing" ... it's not the government, it's the insurance companies. They ration health insurance to the healthiest people and use pre-existing condition clauses to preclude having to cover anyone with an existing medical condition. So, if you're older, or if you have some medical condition that might require them to potentially pay out on a claim, forget it! No insurance policy at all ... or if you can get one, it's limited in its scope and it's going to be excruciatingly unaffordable.

If Congress is to do anything meaningful with respect to health care reform, it has to be "outlawing the use of pre-existing condition clauses." They're caving on the public option and it looks like they're caving on and removing the Section 1233 provision. My hope is that the Democratic majority does NOT cave in to the Party of Nope and remove the provision from the final bill that would outlaw pre-existing conditions. Heck, if they give in and drop that, they might as well table the whole darn thing and wait another decade or two to try again. Maybe the third time would finally be the charm.