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The Devastating Consequences of a Corporate Health Care Bill

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opednews.com Headlined to H1 11/28/09

Wading through the endless debate over health care has exhausted the patience of most Americans -- the zigzags, obscure language, and long-winded discussion is inherently repulsive.

But now the dust is starting to settle, and the Congressional vision for health care in the U.S. is emerging. Instead of being "progressive," it will amount to a massive, corporate-inspired attack on American workers, the elderly, and the poor.

After months of confusion and delay, Congress has shipwrecked the popular energy over health care onto the jagged rock of corporate interests. More spectacularly, health care "reform" is being used as an opportunity to greatly advance corporate influence over social spheres long-dedicated to the working-class -- seemingly harmless provisions carry with them enormous implications.

These devils hide in the details of the competing health care bills in Congress; both contain debilitating right-wing policies hidden within a progressive shell. Obama is indeed acting as the agent of change, to the great benefit of the U.S. corporate elite.

And although the final bill has yet to be crafted, there exists general agreements as to what the end version will look like. Americans will be forced to buy shoddy corporate insurance with no limit to the cost, no guarantee of quality, with large premiums and other tricks to further gouge consumers. If a public option emerges in the final bill -- by no means a guarantee -- it will be shrunken enough to insure very few people (2 percent of the U.S. population).

But it gets worse. How this health care "reform" will be paid for has implications that dwarf the above atrocities.

For example, the Democrats were determined to pass a health care bill that "will not add one cent to the deficit." And they have succeeded: the House and Senate health care bills both plan to reduce the deficit by over $100 billion. But a second-grader could do the math here: more service does not equal less cost -- a truism that dominates the for-profit health care industry.

So how does the government plan to save billions of dollars as they "help" millions of people?

The two biggest cost saving schemes are the most damaging. The first is the enormous attack on Medicare. Since its inception, the corporate elite wanted this program struck down. Now they have their man for the job -- a Republican could never get away with such obvious treachery.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Senate version of health care would cut $404 billion from Medicare and Medicaid; the house version would cut $570 billion. The final cut could be much more. Obama made the ridiculous claim that only "wasteful" parts of Medicare would be cut. The truth is far different.

One way that both Congressional health care bills will gut Medicare is referred to as "forced productivity gains" -- cost saving measures essentially; trimming the fat.

What are these savings? The most mentioned device -- by politicians and media alike -- is the reduction of "wasteful tests" and procedures that doctors routinely perform, an idea that the health care mega-corporations love. It will save them billions, while having catastrophic effects on the health care of millions of people.

For example, the recent announcement that women will now be persuaded to cut back on screenings for breast cancer and cervical cancer have caused an uproar nationwide: people are correctly making the connection behind Congress' "forced productivity gains" and the new "recommendations" that will be used by insurance companies to justify cutting these services, both of which will boost profits. The general agreement behind rationing health care in this way will be an attack on not only Medicare, but serve as the backbone of any health care bill passed, negatively effecting everyone unable to afford luxury health care.

Another piece of Medicare that's being trimmed is Medicare Advantage, a favorite program of the elderly because of its comprehensive services. Premiums for this program are already rising drastically in anticipation of the health care bill's passage, considered by Congress to be "wasteful." Without this program, Medicare will be greatly devalued and be more appropriately named: "band-aides for seniors."

Finally, The Senate health care bill attacks Medicare by reducing payments to doctors by 25 percent. If doctors receive such a drastic reduction in pay, they will simply refuse to see Medicare or Medicaid patients; people will thus be insured only on paper.The newly insured Medicaid patients under any new congressional bill will be sorely disappointed.

Once Medicare is undermined in the above ways, the corporate sponsored right-wing will make a very convincing argument that "Medicare doesn't work", leading to future cuts that will further destroy the program.

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Shamus Cooke is a social service worker and activist living in Portland Oregon.

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I do not think, either party is fit to govern this... by KMGuru on Saturday, Nov 28, 2009 at 11:45:35 PM
Interestingly, my poll on OEN asking whether the C... by Scott Baker on Sunday, Nov 29, 2009 at 3:36:24 AM
... but the day politcians are "scared of voters",... by Jack Flanders on Sunday, Nov 29, 2009 at 9:42:04 AM
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I can't believe it. Progressives have quit spendin... by Mad Jayhawk on Sunday, Nov 29, 2009 at 9:22:39 PM
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I want to thank the author for saying and putting ... by liberalsrock on Sunday, Nov 29, 2009 at 9:38:48 AM
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What exposes the men behind the curtain of our so-... by Stewart Wechsler on Sunday, Nov 29, 2009 at 10:48:53 AM
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Joe Bageant, at his estimablereview joebageant.com... by muservin on Sunday, Nov 29, 2009 at 11:22:53 AM
Can't we all somehow unite on a single simple issu... by BFalcon on Sunday, Nov 29, 2009 at 11:40:31 AM
But if it is too complicated, it will never happen... by Bryan Emmel on Monday, Nov 30, 2009 at 2:29:29 AM
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Healthcare for all is not single simple issue, it ... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 30, 2009 at 3:26:23 PM
Permit the doctors to waive or reduce their fee to... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 30, 2009 at 3:27:59 PM
More and more progressives and liberals are realiz... by Jeffrey Rock on Sunday, Nov 29, 2009 at 12:51:46 PM
And Jeff Rock you really do rock! Only the true pr... by Michael Shaw on Sunday, Nov 29, 2009 at 1:42:53 PM
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Everybody was more decent than previous Administra... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 30, 2009 at 3:32:49 PM
The purpose of all private corporations is to make... by TomK on Sunday, Nov 29, 2009 at 6:53:29 PM
and many other things adding up to the end of the ... by Reprobate on Sunday, Nov 29, 2009 at 9:50:02 PM
A key challenge that we face is deciding what will... by Robert Affolter on Monday, Nov 30, 2009 at 2:39:47 AM
Unfortunately few do. The free lunch tastes so goo... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 30, 2009 at 3:37:09 PM
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When I tried to reach him and the campaign with be... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 30, 2009 at 3:42:05 PM
Take a careful look at all the countries that have... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 30, 2009 at 3:48:57 PM
THIS IS PART OF THE PLAN AND YOU GOT IT ON THE MON... by MARGARET BASET on Monday, Nov 30, 2009 at 5:41:51 AM
I'm 62 and disabled. I already have some problems ... by Lucretia on Monday, Nov 30, 2009 at 3:58:11 PM
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