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Medicare Option or Civil Unrest

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Have you ever had one of those intuitive sensations that something really awful was about to happen, and it did? Kind of like those who felt some ghostly dread shortly before the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy or after the election of Ronald Reagan. That a terrible event would soon throw the nation into chaos, and absolutely nothing would ever be the same again?

I feel that way now. There's something happening here. The lyrics of that old Buffalo Springfield classic play in my mind. Yet, I am not in dread for not knowing what will happen. I know. Everybody else knows, too. The worry comes from what comes after, for it is inevitable what will arise when the first of the monthly bills come in demanding hundreds of dollars to pay for the mandatory but near worthless policies of the Health Insurance Cartels.

All across the United States, what remains of the once Great Middle Class is holding its collective breath, knowing all will soon be made slaves to the Health Insurance Cartel by law after the President signs a Health Reform Bill that does not include an affordable Medicare Option. Already struggling to make mortgage and car payments, pay for all the other necessities of life as well as manage to put aside some college savings for their kids and a little for their own retirement, these severely stomped upon men and women will have to decide whether to defy the government and face fines they cannot pay or even go to prison, or give up saving for their kids' college and their own retirements. How many are asking themselves even now, "Will we lose our home because we can't pay both the mortgage and the high cost of mandatory private health insurance?"

The rich will be unaffected. The poor will get government help to pay premiums. The middle class will get no sympathy for debt obligations and allowances for the costs of necessities like food, mortgage, utilities.

Yes, it is not only possible, it is likely that millions of Americans will be added to the criminal class for failure to find the money to pay for the private health insurance mandated by their government.

The majority realizes what the corporate-owned government of the United States of America is too-desperately-compromised to acknowledge: only Health Reform that includes a low cost Medicare Option can be introduced to the budgets of those neither rich enough nor poor enough to avoid being bankrupted.

Have you noticed how many absolutist Medicare-Option progressives have abruptly caved to the private insurance mandate in the last ten days? From Ed Shultz to Markos Moulitsis, from Howard Dean and health insurance whistle-blower Wendell Potter to even Nancy Pelosi, all have declared it off the table after months of fiercely advocating for the Medicare Option. All of those surrenderers have that same wide-eyed look of terror while each echoes, "Don't lose the chance of reform fighting for the perfect"; "There's a lot of good in this bill; it can be improved upon after passage"; "Do you want to stand in the way and be responsible for the 45,000 people who will die this year due to a lack of health insurance?"

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Retired, Robert Arend was president of an AFSCME local from 1997-2007.

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