A People’s Guide to the Health Care Bill

It’s socialism! It’s historic! Actually, it’s neither but the pundits have to call it something if they’re going to spend all day talking about it. So what should we know about the health care “reforms” that Obama and the Democratic Congress have just passed? For a quick rundown of the talking points and the unsurprisingly differing facts, consider this PDF. But to really consider the impact of this bill, let’s start with this editorial from The Socialist Worker appropriately entitled “Worse Than Nothing At All”:

In spite of the hysterical complaints of Republicans, the truth is that the health care measure House Democratic leaders hope to ram through this weekend is a disaster in the making for working people and a massive giveaway to the medical-pharmaceutical-insurance complex.

It will “mandate” people to buy policies from private insurers, without any guarantees of affordable premiums or adequate coverage. It won’t have a “public option.” It will slash spending and benefits for the federal government’s Medicare program by $500 billion. It will impose a tax in some form on employer-provided insurance–supposedly aimed at expensive “Cadillac” plans, but in reality affecting any insurance that has decent benefits.

The article continues to lay out how the twenty million Americans promised coverage under this bill are really getting a hollow promise that disguises the tremendous bonanza this legislation offers to the health care industry and opportunistic conservatives keen on using this to lay siege to women’s rights. Which brings us to our next point.

Terry O’Neill, President of the National Organization of Women, soberly outlined in a press release why she is less than thrilled about this tried and failed attempt at fulfilling a campaign promise:

With more than 45,000 unnecessary deaths annually and hundreds of thousands of bankruptcies each year due to medical bills, this bill is only a timid first step toward meaningful reform.

Fact: The bill contains a sweeping anti-abortion provision. Contrary to the talking points circulated by congressional leaders, the bill passed today ultimately achieves the same outcome as the infamous Stupak-Pitts Amendment, namely the likely elimination of all private as well as public insurance coverage for abortion. It imposes a bizarre requirement on insurance plan enrollees who buy coverage through the health insurance exchanges to write two monthly checks (one for an abortion care rider and one for all other health care). Even employers will have to write two separate checks for each of their employees requesting the abortion rider.

At best we saw one step forward and two steps back for the cause of universal health care and economic justice in The United States. The one step forward is that this issue has actually been brought to the fore of the political discourse after suffering — along with the uninsured — in obscurity for too long. We may also count any modest gains among this similarly modest step in the right direction. At the same, Democrats never sought to create a universal system and we certainly will not get one under this bill. But by bringing this issue to vote, their inevitable capitulations to business interests and religious reactionaries — among others — means billions of dollars will be thrown at a system that never worked in the first place.

The right will use this plan’s inevitable shortcomings to justify their faux “small government” policies, the left will be criticized for the failure of legislation that no real leftist really wanted, women will have their rights curtailed even further, immigrants will continue to be ignored, the elderly will find Medicare weakened through compromise, and millions more will continue to suffer.

Photo by the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative.

Author: Andrew Oxford

Andrew Oxford is a journalist living in San Antonio, Texas and Boston. His work has been featured in Le Monde Diplomatique and The San Antonio Express-News.

6 thoughts on “A People’s Guide to the Health Care Bill”

  1. The truth lies in the near-total lack of debate about the practice of medicine being endorsed and paid for by government. Most of it should cease, -because most of it -is immoral.

    If our moral responsibility is first and foremost to the future, and I believe it is, what the medical establishment is selling as ethical medical care is little more than -immoral witchcraft.

    Little enough of this medical-care-approach is ever going to benefit the future.

    Neither antibiotic over-use, twiddling with genetic engineering, for-profit pharmaceutical miracle-cure fraud nor yet another insane governmental bureaucracy to laud over, tyrannize and torment those in the future will do anyone any moral favors.

    The approach of this administration like all others IS, -we have the Enlightenment behind us, so -forward at any cost. And costing the future, it is.

    Morally, the arrogant-approach-of-Enlightenment-genius is costing all of humanity its quality of life on this precious planet.

    These people just are not up to the task – when we place their efforts against the constant of an infinitely complex reality that will always toll the truth in these matters.

    This is the truth-

    If you want to live a long and happy life, avoid doctors at all cost.

    If you want to be free from tyranny and enslavement, take all power away from government.

  2. I recently visited India. While I was there I got an ear infection as well as banging my head on a door frame (the doors are shorter than I was where I stayed).
    I went to the local hospital and saw:

    1. Ear, nose and throat doctor for one half hour. He cleaned my ear and gave me ear drops.
    2. A doctor who examined my neck for my neck pain due to the collision with the door. Again another half an hour. Both were extremely professional and polite and took the time to tell me exactly what was going on.

    Total cost? Five hundred rupees including medication. That’s about twelve dollars. Got it? Twelve dollars!!!
    No one has health plans over there!!! Everyone can get treatment!

    What a joke to be sick in America. Good luck having the doctor even look you in the eye (his eyes are glued to the chart). Office visits here are horrible experiences with rude doctors rushing around. The cost is horrible too. Better to watch what you eat and exercise to keep healthy.

  3. “Better to watch what you eat and exercise to keep healthy.”

    Really? It’s better to stay healthy? If I stay healthy, then now I just going to get taxed and forced to buy health insurance I’ll likely never use. I’ll only get any benefits in exchange for all of my money if I’m sick or injured, so personally I’m going to start driving faster, eating more fast food and smoking, otherwise I’m just pissing my mandatory health insurance premiums down the drain!

    1. Don’t worry about it… Keep healthy.

      They will still find something wrong with you..
      Oh, you drive too safe and worry too much about your health, you must be sick.

      Here’s a PAXIL!

      If there is blood to be squeezed, even from the smallest of turnips, they will find a way.

      Oh, almost forgot, they can shut down newer cars with the new GPS systems and they are going to monitor you eating habits so that you cannot eat that evil food.

      Aside from that, I agree with you

  4. From: “talking points and the unsurprisingly differing facts”

    “Bends the cost curve is a misleading and trivial claim, as the US would still spend far more for care than other advanced countries”

    Right, now publish the curves to clearly demonstrate this deception.

  5. Well, if we all have to pay into the same pot, then my neighbor’s health is now my business.

    I live my life healthy and smart. I will not tolerate some fatso couch potato taking benefits from the same pot I pay into.

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