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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/9/09

Happy Mother's Day from America's Health Insurance Plans and Mr. Baucus

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Message Donna Smith
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Wow. America's Health insurance Plan's (AHIP) czar -- and the woman our Congress and president have anointed as the nation's architect of health reform -- has offered a gift to all of America's moms and women. The health insurance industry will stop charging you more - they'll stop discriminating against you - so long as all of you are legally forced to buy their product.

It sounds to me a little like the old saw, "When did you stop beating your wife?" But then when I really thought about it, it made me sicker and sadder and more acutely aware of exactly what this nation's leaders think of all of the mothers and daughters in the land this Mother's Day 2009.

Here's how the New York Times' Robert Pear wrote it, "Insurance companies offered Tuesday to end the practice of charging higher premiums to women than to men for the same coverage.

Karen M. Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade group, made the offer in testifying before the Senate Finance Committee."

Yes sir and yes maam, Mr. Pear. Karen's going to stop beating us real soon. I don't buy that for a moment until they actually go all the way back and acknowledge the fact that the men who impregnated the women charged more for their gender-based ability to be impregnated are made to pay up for all the losses women have suffered at the hands of this unscrupulous industry.

Never mind for one moment that the single payer point of view was systematically shut out of that hearing and nearly all others (as evidenced by the arrests of eight advocates this week at the same hearing - though Mr. Pear chose not to report on those arrests, favoring to lead his piece with an Ignagni tribute).

If we could go back and try to fix the damage from the admitted industry discriminatory practices, how do we charge for the lost lives? The moms who buried children they couldn't afford to buy insurance for? The moms who suffered severe illness and unthinkable pain because Karen and crew deemed them uninsurable?

Now they want to charge women the same as men for this defective product that has been allowed to cause hundreds of thousands of women and kids to suffer?

I've heard some friends in political circles say that Karen Ignagni and AHIP are not the real problem in this health care travesty of a U.S. healthcare system. Some say it's the Dems and the Congress that fail to act that are the real problem, that Karen is just doing the job she's paid so very well to do.

Can't buy that one. It would be like folks saying Hitler wasn't the real problem behind the Holocaust and that the folks who ignored him or feared him were really to blame.

Karen and AHIP have given us exactly the same sort of death and destruction as any of the other major human rights disasters over the past century have done, including the Holocaust. These people are the architects of pain and of long and prolonged suffering for millions of women and kids and families. All for the almighty buck.

So now that in 2009, just in time for Mother's Day, she has agreed to stop charging more for health insurance for women, it does not mean she's agreed to stop the death marches across time for millions of people who will not be able to access the best level of care that this nation has to offer.

Sen. Baucus, and all of his committee members on the Senate Finance Committee, are the observers of an American tragedy. And if Hitler had appeared before them in 1944 and said he'd stop gassing the Jews, what would our Senate have said to him?

Here's what I wish they had said in 2009 to the for-profit health insurance industry folks who have overseen the suffering and deaths of so many women for decades.

And as soon as Ms. Ignagni opened her mouth and acknowledged publicly the discrimination against the mothers of this land, you'd think one of them might have stood for us all and said, "We find it wholly unacceptable that you have violated if not the letter than the clear purpose and intent of the law of this great United States of America in which we have determined some time ago that women are equal citizens to men, mothers are equal to fathers, and therefore entitled to equal treatment. And as a consequence, we - the U.S. Senators elected to serve the women and men of this land - find you unacceptable to participate in the delivery of healthcare, a basic human right, in these United States."

The house would have come down in honor of that Senator and the Senate would have finally honored all moms and children and dads and families in this great debate. It's not too late. It could still happen.

Happy Mother's Day.


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Donna Smith appeared in Michael Moore's 2007 film, "SiCKO," and spent five years working for National Nurses United/California Nurses Association in Chicago and Washington, D.C., as their single-payer political organizer/educator.  She is now the executive director of Health Care for All Colorado and lives in Denver with her husband of 38 years, Larry

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