This was a surprising and momentous week for so many Americans with the passing of the Affordable Health Care Act – what the Reich likes to call “Obamacare”. I promise to stop calling them the Reich if they promise to stop calling it Obamacare. Deal? Yeah, that’s what I thought. It was shocking because the Supreme Court that gave us the disastrous Citizens United decision, effectively auctioning off democracy to the highest bidder, chose to do the right thing in this instance, and the resultant temper tantrum of the GOP made me embarrassed for the lot of them.
In 2010, Rush The Human Hindenburg Limbaugh, promised if universal healthcare passed, he’d move to Costa Rica. I guess the drugs are better in Costa Rica. Moving there wouldn’t solve his problem since they are miles ahead of this country and have universal health care. Bill Bill-O The Clown O’Reilly promised to ‘apologize for being an idiot’ if the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Health Care Act. So, did he? Nope. He had a guest host leading the circus on his show that night and has done nothing but blast the Roberts Court for their decision. I didn’t really expect an apology from him, but then, O’Reilly has so much more for which to be apologetic than just being an idiot. Conservative firebrand Michael Savage, the man who coined the word ‘Islamofascist’, claimed that Justice Roberts’ epilepsy medication was responsible for his decision. I have listened to the TeaBaggers whining that the ‘Constitution was shredded’ with this decision and they were all moving to Canada. If they think this decision shredded the Constitution, they must have been in a coma with the passing of The Patriot Act and for shit’s sake, let’s not tell them that Canada too has universal health care, not to mention Canada doesn’t want their sorry asses. I think perhaps the most iconic photo that came off the wires that day was this one. Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader applauding the decision and Speaker of the House John Boehner looking like he needs a diaper change. You know, when my side loses, we lament the pain that will be suffered by the least of us. When they lose, they look remarkably like a toddler who has just thrown his rattle out of the crib and has commenced to toss a hissy fit.
Truth is, we don’t have universal health care in this country – yet. The Affordable Health Care Act is, at best, half a loaf, though better than none. For years, we’ve had a moral choice to make on single payer health care in this country and the insurance industry has paid off politicians to block it. Opponents of this plan have long claimed that to do so will result in “death panels”, deciding who lives and who dies. Well, if limiting access to health care only to those who have a large enough bank account isn’t tantamount to a death panel, I don’t know what the hell is. We waste billions of dollars a year on a handful of profiteers that make up the ‘health’ industry complex when we should be funneling that money into a single payer system that could deliver quality health care to everyone. So why haven’t we done it? For a multitude of reasons, most of which boil down to greed and a really effective P.R. machine.
In the last few days, I’ve heard all the bitching in the following order:
IT’S SOCIALIZED MEDICINE – No, you morons, it isn’t. You still get to go to the doctor of your choice, the hospital of your choice. The insurance companies still get to rape your finances almost to their hearts’ content. If we had a Single Payer plan, we’d still have the doctor and hospital of our choice. It would only mean we’d have a government-run payment system. No longer would you and I be forced to pay inflated premiums to administrate our health care. Single Payer eliminates the overhead, cutting out the middleman and simply pays our bills directly to our provider.
WE SHOULD TRUST THE MARKET. PRIVATE IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN GOVERNMENT RUN – There are some things in this world that should be handled by private entities and some that should not. When it comes to health care, this is one instance where the government should have stepped in long ago. Private companies have a singular goal and that is to make a profit. When those companies can increase profits by denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, the elderly, the poor and in many instances, just because they can, then it’s time to take that decision out of their hands. These companies aren’t interested in doing what’s best for the patient, they are interested in collecting the highest premiums possible and paying out the least in claims. Period. Think about it. More than one third of your premiums pay for marketing, CEO pay packages, luxury buildings and lobbying firms, not to mention a massive bureaucracy. Their sole mission is to deny us coverage for our medical care. With a Single Payer System, all of those costs are eliminated. Think I’m lying? Let’s take a look at Medicare. Two percent of all their revenues pay to administrate the fund. If you doubt my word on this, you need to see Michael Moore’s brilliant film, “Sicko”.
SINGLE PAYER IS COST PROHIBITIVE – What do people without insurance do when they get sick? They go to the Emergency Room of their local hospital, the most expensive place to be treated. Worse, they’re not receiving preventative care, they’re getting emergency treatment for acute care, far more expensive than preventative care. And when they can’t pay for the services provided in the ER, who pays? We all pay. The potential savings on paperwork alone, more than $400 billion per year, are enough to provide comprehensive coverage to everyone without paying any more than we already do.
YOU’LL HAVE TO WAIT WEEKS, IF NOT MONTHS TO SEE A DOCTOR – No country with a Single Payer system in the world has a waiting list for emergency care and very few have a waiting list for primary care. My research has shown that only elective procedures result in a waiting list. Sorry if you have to wait to get your liposuction or your tummy tuck. By the way, the last time I called for a doctor’s appointment for a nasty sinus infection, I was given an appointment in SIX DAYS. Glad I wasn’t barfing up a lung or anything. Geesh.
So, I guess the obvious question is, why aren’t we all entitled to medical care? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10th, 1948. Article 25 reads as follows:
- (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
- (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
So, 65 years ago, the United Nations, an organization in which
this country was a founding member, saw fit to include that passage in a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and yet, this country, this founding member of that organization, has never seen fit to make certain her own people can enjoy those basic human rights. That is our national shame. Think about it. We could have a health care system where employers aren’t burdened with health care costs and workers would never again have to worry about health care for themselves or their families. If the Reich is so concerned about business and free enterprise and profits, why not worry about those things for the tens of thousands of private businesses in this country instead of protecting the massive profits of just a handful? I went to a website called opensecrets.org that carefully listed what industries spent the most on lobbying. I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count. Between the Pharmaceutical companies, the Insurance Industry, Hospitals and Nursing Homes and Health Professionals, they spend more than 6 billion dollars a year buying off our elected officials to make sure they stay rich and we stay sick. The top 20 industries spend $20 billion a year on lobbying, but these 4 alone make up 6 billion of that. While the medical machine in this country buys off politicians on both sides of the aisle, an overwhelming amount goes to the Reich. They’re the worst at sucking at the tit of corporate greed, but the Democrats should be ashamed at their pathetically weak voices against this shameful behavior.
Look folks, Democracy is a complicated idea and you have to really want it. No fundamental change can ever take place until we change the way campaign finance works and lobbying works. Eliminate dirty money from elections and big business from writing the laws and you have effectively returned this nation to a government of the people, by the people and for the people, just as Lincoln described.
So when your TeaBagger neighbor starts whining about the Kenyan Socialist Muslim in the White House and your “Socialistic health care” that’s ruined this country, you’ve now been armed with the facts necessary to prove them wrong. Oh, and until they surrender their Social Security, Medicare and Disability checks, they can shut the hell up because when they say stupid shit like that,
…they look like idiots.
Carol Baker is a political writer, satirist, and co-host with Vicki Childs of our Here Women Talk weekly internet talk radio show called BROADSIDED. You can hear their show every Thursday at 11 am Eastern/10 Central/8 Pacific.