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Can the Democrats Avoid a Populist Health Care Rebellion?

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The insurance industry is the major problem in health care and Americans know it, but the Democrats are on the verge of forcing Americans to buy insurance while failing to solve America's health care crisis. It is a prescription for electoral, economic and health care disaster.

The leadership of the Democratic Party is on the verge of passing health insurance reform. The centerpiece of the "reform" is requiring Americans to buy overpriced insurance from private corporations. But, it is evident that many in the Democratic voting base see the insurance industry as the problem -- not the solution -- and are getting angry about a new law that will force people to buy from corporations they don't trust.

Just a few weeks ago the Mobilization for Health Care for All was announced (www.MobilizeForHealthCare.org). The Mobilization focuses on the denial of doctor-recommended care by the insurance industry. Sit-ins were planned at health insurance companies with demands that insurance corporations stop the denials. The Mobilization sought 100 people willing to sit-in at insurance corporations and risk arrest as people sat in at lunch counters two generations ago.

The response has been explosive, nearly 800 have signed up to risk arrest and thousands have signed up to join the protests. In the last 20 days 78 people have been arrested protesting the real death panels -- the private insurance industry -- who according to a California study deny doctor recommended care 20% of the time.

The Mobilization hoped to have "patients not profits sit-ins" in three cities last week, and instead it had them in nine cities. On the next Mobilization day, October 28th, there is likely to be twice as many cities protesting the insurance industry -- just as Congress considers forcing Americans to buy insurance. This may be developing into the largest campaign of non-violent civil resistance since the Civil Rights era.

Many of the protesters supported Obama and were active in Democratic campaigns. Does the Democratic Party think that people willing to risk arrest against the corruption of the insurance industry will support Democratic candidates with time, money and votes who force them to buy insurance from these corporations?

These are protests the Democratic Party should not ignore. At the Washington, DC mobilization one woman, Linda from Annapolis, spoke to president Obama, said she had helped him get elected in part because he promised real change in health care. She still wants him to come through but reminded him -- "we elected you, we can un-elect you." Linda reflects the view of many Democratic Party activists who are angry at the pro-insurance bill being pushed by Congressional leaders.

As people come to understand the reform bill, which began as health "care" reform but devolved into health "insurance" reform, the anger will grow -- not just from the right, but from the Democratic voting base who voted for the hope of real reform, not more of the corporate-dominated Washington, DC non-solutions to problems Americans face every day.

Indeed, Americans of all stripes will be angry. At the Washington, DC mobilization police allowed the sit-in to occur, despite it being illegal, and refused to arrest the participants. We later found out that the police had to make wage concessions to keep their health care. And, when I was arrested protesting the Senate Finance Committee hearing dominated by the insurance industry, one officer told me about his mother who had lost her job, was too young for Medicare and could not afford COBRA payments. The abuse of insurance affects all Americans and they will not be happy being forced to feed corporate gluttonous greed.

Why will Americans hate this "reform?"

First, this unnecessarily complex plan will not achieve any of the goals originally set. It will not cover all Americans, indeed tens of millions will be left without insurance ten years after it is enacted. And, it will not control costs as the insurance industry has said that their already too expensive premiums will increase by 111% in the next decade under "reform."

Second, few Americans will benefit from the plan. In fact, the greatest beneficiary will be the insurance industry and other health care profiteers. Every ten million people forced to buy insurance by the government will give the industry $100 billion in new revenue -- at current insurance rates. With 50 million uninsured that is potentially hundreds of billions in new revenue. In other words, the corporations that are the root of the problem will get rich off of the income of working Americans. This at a time when American salaries are stagnating, debts are high, costs are going up and there is constant fear of unemployment and bankruptcy. Further, those who have insurance but do not like their insurance plans will not be given any choice under the "reform." They will be stuck with their current, overpriced insurance with rising premiums, co-pays and out of pocket expenses. This is a recipe for populist rebellion, but it does not stop there.

The plan does not create affordable health care. Families earning $90,000 will find themselves paying 20% of their income on health insurance. And, the subsidies for poor and working Americans will be insufficient. The leading source of increased poverty is America's working poor. How can these working families afford to buy insurance -- even if they are forced to by the government -- when they cannot even put food on the table? Americans will ask -- why are struggling workers being forced to pay the $10 million salaries of insurance executives?

By the time most of this plan takes effect in 2013, the year after the next presidential election, insurance premiums will have increased by 20% to 25%. During the election year, Americans will be looking toward 2013 and seeing increased insurance costs and realizing they will be forced to buy overpriced insurance at the threat of increased taxes. Because of the lack of cost controls and the increased insurance requirements, e.g. like requiring acceptance of people with pre-existing conditions and putting no limits on lifetime benefits, the insurance industry will be increasing rates even more quickly. The failure of "reform" will become evident before it takes effect.

The increased costs of health insurance will affect all businesses small and large. In a "recovery" that is already not producing jobs, these costs will ensure a jobless recovery. The failure to create jobs will be a rallying cry against the Obama economic and health care plans. Democrats should be concerned because Americans traditionally vote based on their wallet more than any other issue.

In fact, bottom line business people and others who can do the math, realize that the U.S. spends double per person than dozens of better rated health care systems in Europe and Asia. If the U.S. merely adopted any of these plans (almost all variations on single payer) we would save $4,000 per person EVERY YEAR. That is a savings of $1.2 trillion every year -- a huge recurring stimulus with savings flowing to businesses and others who pay some or all of their health insurance. Quickly thereafter goods made domestically would be competitive again, companies would have faith in a better future and hire employees again, and America would break the stranglehold of corporate-government. None of this will happen under the Democratic "reform" because the waste, fraud and abuse of the insurance industry will continue.

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http://www.ItsOurEconomy.us and http://www.ComeHomeAmerica.U

Kevin Zeese is co-chair of Come Home America, www.ComeHomeAmerica.US which seeks to end U.S. militarism and empire. He is also co-director of Its Our Economy, www.ItsOurEconomy.US which seeks to democratize the economy and give people greater (more...)
 

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My wife and I added up the cost of health insuranc... by Roger on Tuesday, Oct 20, 2009 at 10:09:45 AM
I think my business is smaller than yours, but I j... by Dick Thomson on Tuesday, Oct 20, 2009 at 10:24:18 AM
Containment of public sentiment has been a big par... by August Adams on Tuesday, Oct 20, 2009 at 1:38:21 PM
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score's the bauc... by HMC LAVADOG on Tuesday, Oct 20, 2009 at 2:04:40 PM
exchange on this thread which went like this:Reply... by NettieMae on Tuesday, Oct 20, 2009 at 3:51:35 PM