Getting’ it straight: Baucus and friends have got to go.
Let’s get something straight — RIGHT NOW: I receive my healthcare through the VA. Sunday evening I suffered an atria fibrillation episode that sent me, on an emergency basis, to Eisenhower Medical Center, one of the world’s most highly acclaimed hospitals. There, I was treated by Dr. Euthym Kontaxis, one of the country’s most highly esteemed cardiologists. This morning I got a call from Loma Linda University Medical Center, again, one of the country’s finest, for follow-up cardio testing. My first appointment to those ends is Friday, the 5th, at two in the afternoon. Other investigatory appointments are in the works. This afternoon, a few moments ago, I picked up a brand new Life Source blood pressure monitor.
All of this is costing me nothing. I repeat: NOTHING! Some might suggest that, if I’m getting such good care, why should I trouble myself, ranting on behalf of a single-payer healthcare system for everyone. I rant and rage for a single-payer system because I am an American, I truly do love this country and want nothing but the best for it. And that ain’t happening folks. In fact, it’s getting what it’s been getting. Let me illustrate.
Remember the 1989 movie , When Harry Met Sally, starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan; the scene in the restaurant where Meg Ryan demonstrates to a disbelieving Crystal who has claimed he could tell, were she to fake “it”? And when she commences her rolling thunder, when a late middle-age patron a few tables away tells the waitress “I’ll have what she’s having” — remember that?
At the hands of three Democrats in particular, and by all Republicans for at least the past three decades, that is exactly what’s happening this very moment to Americans and every American business that is not in the private health insurance business. The three Democrats are Senators Max Baucus of Wyoming, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Tom Carper of Delaware. At least in the movie, the idea of being faked out by a great acting job was funny. Baucus, chair of the Finance Committee just said that a “government option” in the healthcare reform scheme was “not on the table,” and that it would not be.
As a service to those who might not be as familiar as they should be with the Senate Finance Committee chairman, please view the following hearing. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sY4XGaRiiT0) One conclusion that should leap to the foreground is the notion that just perhaps the chairman is no more to the intellectual rigors such a position would seem to require than was, say, George W. Bush. (That, I put as politely as I could manage, given my long-standing disgust with the fellow from Montana.)
Visit www.YouTube.com, insert in the search box Ron Wyden, then Tom Carper. Determine for yourself the extent to which my characterizations may be correct. Like me, however, you may find neither of them has much more to recommend them as senators than does Baucus. Like me, you may wonder, cynically, who the major contributors to their campaigns were. C’mon, I want to know. Because, what other perversion could possibly explain why they’re twisting the shiv in the back of everyday Americans and every business that isn’t in the very profitable, for-profit, private health insurance business?
An anecdote: A few days back I received an email from one of my Detroit suburb high school class of ’64 classmates. She said she and a group were wondering where I was, Reno or Palm Springs? I replied that, given all that Detroit and Michigan have undergone, playing “Where’s Waldo” (Ed) left me thinking they truly had more important things with which to deal. She wrote back, as they are living the trauma, they don’t talk politics when they gather.
This attitude, that one has the legitimate right to shun the discussion, to look away from tragedies to this country, as they unravel, seems somehow to me the height of moral and civic irresponsibility. Nothing to me is more despicable than wringing one’s hands when confronted by a situation. As the old saw goes, “If one won’t stand up for something, then one will fall for anything.” If our long ago ancestors were as civilly comatose, the Union Jack would be flying over our government buildings and we’d be singing “Long Live the Queen.”
Not only the US auto industry, but every company in every industry, large and small, that has provided some measure of healthcare support to its employees was in a completely untenable position vis-à-vis its foreign competition. If Baucus is able to have his way, nothing is genuinely going to change relative to healthcare in the US, except that it will get even worse and our economy will most assuredly be thrown down the drain.
Almost every wage earner’s job is at risk today, and with it, their health insurance. When someone loses his or her job, if they had health insurance, via COBRA, they can keep it. But they must then pay the exorbitant premiums for that coverage; now ranging somewhere around $3,000 to $6,000 per person, depending on age, and $12,000 to $18,000 per family. Try it. Just try to cover that one. And feed your family at the same time.
But what is so sinister about those premiums is that, as approximately 30 percent of every premium dollar is devoured by administrative costs (The army of clerks whose sole objective it is to deny coverage to existing subscribers, and thereby protect corporate revenue) and add to that whatever profit margin the firm can lay grasp of, you’ve got an industry whose existence cannot be justified on any grounds. For comparison, Medicare’s costs eat up around seven percent of revenue. For the VA, it’s less than five percent.
Since at least Nixon, the underlying premise of the Republican Party has been a degenerate misanthropy: the protection of the wealth of those who have it in great abundance. It is today the refuse of whites who fled the Democratic Party because they could not accept the proposition that a non-white person could possibly be equal to a white, and thus have equal rights alongside whites. That is the party’s base. With moral posturing that it stood for the defense of life and country and God, it has abused the gullibility of those dolts who subscribed to it. But make no mistake: its god has ever been mammon. It has victimized American labor, and in the process eviscerated what had been this country’s middle class.
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