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Health Care & Environment
02.14 Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence [If its killing us, make it illegal]
02.14 To avoid environmental catastrophe, everything must change [Consider why this headline is laughable or confusing to many, if not most, Americans...]02.13 Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet [2:10 video; Produce and canned vegetables laced with toxic chemicals—from fertilizers and herbicides, too—must be quickly phased out to use safe organic alternatives]
02.11 'People Shouldn't Be Going Bankrupt and Dying': Nationwide Week of Action Aims to Build Mass Movement Behind Medicare for All [Corporate control of government and media must be limited to allow efficient programs for the public good]
02.09 The potato solution: how the Guardian switched to biodegradable packaging [Non-recyclable products should be illegal]
News Media Matters
02.15 Samantha Bee: Fox News 'soiling themselves over the Green New Deal' [video clips from Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert]
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
02.15 Jayapal Says Medicare for All Bill Coming in Two Weeks as Expert Calls Plan 'Astonishingly Strong' [Corporate control of government and media must be limited to allow efficient programs for the public good]
02.14 Pentagon Fears Climate Crisis, w/ Billions in Damage to US Bases & Societal Upheaval [In maniacally twisted capitalist countries inconvenient truths are ignored or harshly ridiculed, and Trump's stupid Wall obsession dominates the news instead.]
02.13 'We Will Be That Lantern on the Shore': Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley Rally With TPS Holders Outside Trump White House [Empathy and fairness are scarce when your President is a psychopath]
Economics & Corrupting-Capitalism
02.13 The Green New Deal offers radical environmental and economic change [For the survival of life on earth, capitalism must be effectively regulated or banned]
02.12 Climate and economic risks 'threaten 2008-style systemic collapse' [Willfull ignorance of Trump, Republicans, corporate-media and corporate-Democrats is steadfast, if not worsening]
02.11 Trump offers socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else [and the poor will die out like the insects]
International & Futurism
02.15 Who Is Really A Socialist? [Who is really a Republican, etc.?]
02.14 House passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen [Congress does something good again!]
02.14 Millions Flowed From Venezuelan Oil Firm to Small Bulgarian Bank [Transactions like Manafort performed for Trump. Which Venezuelan political leader is likely behind this—Maduro or Trump-supported Guaidó?]
MAINSTREAM MEDIA IGNORED VIEWPOINT:
119 Million Americans Must Be WrongOriginally published 5 June 2009
As the health insurance industry and its defenders in Congress lay out their case against permitting a public option in a reform bill, perhaps their most curious argument is that some 119 million Americans are ready to dump their private plans and jump to something more like Medicare – and that’s why the choice can’t be permitted.
In other words, the industry and its backers are acknowledging that more than one-third of the American people are so dissatisfied with their private health insurance that they trust the U.S. government to give them a fairer shake on health care. The industry says its allies in Congress must prevent that.
The peculiar argument that 119 million Americans must be denied the public option that they prefer has been made most notably by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which is one of two panels that has jurisdiction over the health insurance bill.
“As many as 119 million Americans would shift from private coverage to the government plan,” Grassley wrote in a column for Politico.com. That migration, Grassley said, would “put America on the path toward a completely government-run health care system. ... Eventually, the government plan would overtake the entire market.”
Grassley’s logic is that so many Americans would prefer a government-run plan that the private health insurance industry would collapse or become a shadow of its current self. That, in turn, would lead even more Americans entering the government plan, making private insurance even less viable.
Rarely has an argument more dramatically highlighted the philosophical question of whether in a democracy, the government should represent the people’s interests or an industry’s.
But Grassley said he is simply upholding “the promise that if you like the coverage you have, you can keep it. ... That’s why I’m concerned about a government-run plan that forces people out of private insurance.”
The counter-argument, of course, might be that if the health insurance industry hadn’t dissatisfied so many customers – indeed forcing many sick people into bankruptcy because of excessive fees, denial of coverage and gaps in permitted medical treatments – there wouldn’t be so many Americans eager for a public option.
So, now to protect the health insurance industry, Congress must stop 119 million Americans from leaping into the arms of a government plan.
Grassley is joined in his position by nearly the entire Republican contingent in Congress. It also appears a few key Democrats, particularly Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, agree at least in part.
Baucus has kept a single-payer option “off the table” during the debate even as he claimed “all options are on the table.” He also has suggested that Congress might have to “sculpt” any public option, presumably to make it less appealing to Americans if some version survives in the reform bill.
President Barack Obama, whose mother had to fight with her health insurance company while dying of cancer, says he continues to favor including a public option in the bill as necessary to keep the insurance industry honest. Sen. Ted Kennedy, chairman of the Health and Education Committee which also has jurisdiction over the bill, also favors a strong public plan.
However, there is the additional fact that executives from health insurance companies and related industries are major campaign contributors to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.
For instance, since 2005, Grassley’s various political action committees have collected nearly $1.3 million in donations from the industries related to the health insurance debate, according to OpenSecrets.org. Grassley’s top four donor groups were Health ($411,956); Insurance ($307,348); Pharmaceuticals ($233,850); and Hospitals ($197,137). Eighth on Grassley’s donor list were HMOs at $130,684.
On the other hand, the health insurance industry appears about as popular with Americans as the tobacco industry, with both considered highly hazardous to your health. Except that Americans can choose not to smoke, while they run enormous risks for themselves and their families if they don’t have some form of health insurance.
Health insurance companies do negotiate rates with hospitals and doctors that are far below what is charged to people who don’t have insurance, sometimes as low as one-tenth what the uninsured patient might be charged.
These disparities, in effect, force many Americans to sign up for private insurance even if the insurance fees are excessive, padded with handsome profits for investors and unproductive bureaucratic costs (including investigations into whether people can be denied payments because of undisclosed “preexisting conditions”).
If the health insurance industry had its way, Congress would produce a bill that simply required Americans (or their employers) to buy health insurance from private industry. That way, the government would compel citizens to become customers while denying them a choice of the public plan.
To avoid such an outcome, proponents of the public option – including those 119 million Americans who are ready to sign up – will have to overcome opposition from Republicans and some Democrats who are determined to protect the interests of the private health insurance industry.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.
This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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This story was published on June 9, 2009.