Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Public Option is Poof

Well, what a surprise. The Senate Democrats have officially ditched the so-called "public option" on the health care legislation they have been wrangling over for the past months.  Are you really surprised? Didn't you just know that in the end the accursed health insurance giants and their lackeys in Congress were going to see to it that nothing got in the way of their profits? Now, you heard it here first . . . the bill that will eventually pass the Congress will NOT lower your health insurance premium. It will further enrich the already bloated insurance companies. The administration has already bargained away any leverage on the purchase of drugs, so what's emerging from this "reform" is millions of new customers for the insurers, and all the teeth that we the citizens had in the proposed legislation have been systematically broken off.

Here's language from the Washington Post story:
[T]he government plan preferred by liberals [public option] would be replaced with a program that would create several national insurance policies administered by private companies but negotiated by the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees health policies for federal workers. If private firms were unable to deliver acceptable national policies, a government plan would be created. 

In addition, people as young as 55 would be permitted to buy into Medicare, the popular federal health program for retirees. And private insurance companies would face stringent new regulations, including a requirement that they spend at least 90 cents of every dollar they collect in premiums on medical services for their customers.
This "solution" is full of holes. The key phrase above is "administered by private companies." This, of course, means allowing insurers to make a profit, which is a whole 'nother train of thought from forcing the bastards to control costs by creating a government-run option that people could choose. And just what does "unable to to deliver acceptable national policies" mean? Medicare extension is a good thing, of course. It is a single-pay system that has leverage on prices, but I want to know how the "stringent new regulations" are going to be monitored and enforced.

Bottom line: we still are going to be controlled by the insurance companies. My contention from the beginning was and still is that health care should not be a for-profit frigging business. Health care is a human right. Making money off people's illness and suffering is immoral. But I'm a voice crying in the wilderness on this.

Update 1: One reader's comment this Truthdig piece on this matter pretty much sums it up for me: "Then they might as well just kill the whole deal. Without a public option American’s will remain the victims of health care corporate America. Instead how about a subsidy on Airline Tickets for those that want to go to India, China and Mexico for health care. It would be cheaper. Betrayl [sic] doesn’t even begin to cover it."
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