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11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
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11.10 Trump's acting attorney general involved in firm that scammed veterans out of life savings [Absense of morals and empathy are a prerequisite in the Trump administration]
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11.10 US stops refuelling of Saudi-led coalition aircraft in Yemen war [But there are a few children still alive. It's too soon!]
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Obama’s Rhetoric May Be “Fiery,” But His Health Care Reform Is Still Lukewarm
First published in his blog Unsilent Generation yesterday, 8 March 2010
The problem, of course, is that the FEHB (Obama's model) is becoming more expensive by the day. So the exchanges will do nothing but bring mediocre and criminally overpriced insurance to slightly larger pool of people.
Some news outlets have described Obama’s speech at a health care rally in Pennsylvania this morning as “angry” or “fiery.” As satisfying as it is to hear Obama say something nasty about the insurance companies, the details of his “vilification” of these bloodsucking middlemen are well in line with the tepid outlines of the Democrats’ current health care reform plans. As described by the Christian Science Monitor:
It was widely known from the start of the so-called health care debate that a baseline goal would be to stop insurance companies from denying people coverage because of pre-existing conditions, or knocking people off the rolls when they got sick. (The public option, as everyone should by now have realized, was never much more than a bargaining chip.) And that’s just what’s likely to happen.
It was also well understood that any health care reform must genuflect before the alter of the free market. That has been a given since Reagan took office in 1981 and the Heritage Foundation came up with its health care reform plan–which quite resembles the one now being promoted by Obama and many other Democrats.
The Heritage plan, as I and others have written before, is based on the Federal Employee Health Benefits program (FEHB). It supports a vending machine type “exchange” to sell private insurance across the country to one and all, thereby achieving a supposed twofer–affordable universal health care and preservation of the free market. The problem, of course, is that there is no free market when it comes to health insurance, and the FEHB is becoming more expensive by the day. So the exchanges will do nothing but bring mediocre and criminally overpriced insurance to slightly larger pool of people.
And if we are to believe the latest tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, this is pretty much what Americans seem to want–a timid, lukewarm reform that addresses some of the worst abuses of the health care system without rendering any fundamental change. Here are some details from the poll:
It is slightly more encouraging to learn that ”Providing subsidies to lower and middle income people also receives strong support from Democrats and independents and near majority support from Republicans.” The problem is that unless we take a meaningful bite out of the profits of the drug and insurance companies–which no one seems willing to do–there won’t be money left to subsidize anything other than junk insurance for those who can’t afford a decent policy.
The liberal-minded will surely object to me saying this, but I’m inclined to think the Kaiser poll is pretty accurate–because when it comes down to real social and political change, the United States is basically a conservative nation. Anything more than the most incremental change has happened only when we had both a mass grassroots movement and strong political leadership–think of the Civil Rights Movement or the New Deal.
Neither one of these things has surfaced when it comes to the current health care reform. So the best we can look forward to are a few tinkerings with the existing system, which are better than nothing–but not much better.
Born in 1936, James Ridgeway has been reporting on politics for more than 45 years. He is currently Senior Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones, and recently wrote a blog on the 2008 presidential election for the Guardian online. He previously served as Washington Correspondent for the Village Voice; wrote for Ramparts and The New Republic; and founded and edited two independent newsletters, Hard Times and The Elements.
Ridgeway is the author of 16 books, including The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11, It’s All for Sale: The Control of Global Resources, and Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture. He co-directed a companion film to Blood in the Face and a second documentary film, Feed, and has co-produced web videos for GuardianFilms.
This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on March 9, 2010.
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