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Health Care & Environment
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]
11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]
11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]
11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
International & Futurism
11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]
11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]
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.