The Baucus Bill – Senators Fiddle While America Burns

Posted in General by TBartine on September 17, 2009 1 Comment

Yesterday, I posted my initial impressions of “Baucus/Gang of Six” version of the Health Care Reform Bill.  It appears…that my impressions were shared by others:

Almost nobody seems to think that a plan that forces people to buy policies from private insurers is a better alternative to offering people the choice of not buying insurance, buying private insurance, or buying a new public insurance plan.

Almost nobody seems to think that a plan that helps the poor buy insurance…but then fines them if they still can’t afford it, is a very good idea.

Almost nobody seems to think that “co-ops” are really a solution to ANYTHING, much less a way to provide “competition” against the private insurers.  Of course, RNC chair Michael Steele agrees…but for the wrong reason: he thinks that co-ops are some sort of “back door” to creating a public option.  This theory, besides utilizing the worn out “slippery slope” fallacy, has absolutely no merit, and only displays that Steele (like most people) has no idea what a co-op really is.  Here it folks…and it’s not very complicated: a co-op is just a large group of people joining together, so that they can go to the insurance companies and say, “Hey, we’ve got a WHOLE bunch of potential customers for you…how about giving us a nice, bulk discount?“  That’s it.  It doesn’t provide ANY competition for private insurers and has NO resemblance to a “government-run insurance program.“  NONE.

Almost nobody seems to think that paying for the plan with a 13% tax taken directly out of the paychecks of middle-class Americans is good way to make the bill “deficit neutral.”

In fact…what should give us pause, is the few people who are actually in favor of this plan:

INVESTORS:  Upon news that there was a new bill that would FORCE everyone to buy private health insurance, while doing little to curtail the unethical practices that private insurers use to raise profits (examples here and here)…health insurance stocks SOAREDThink Progress reports: “Following Baucus’ announcement, HealthNet shares increased by 3%, United Health Group Inc shares rose by 2.7%, Humana Inc. grew by 2.6%, Wellpoint stock gained 1.7% and Aetna Inc rose 1.6%.

HEALTH CARE LOBBYISTS:  It’s amazing what putting a few million dollars in the pockets of the right Republican and Democratic senators (especially the ones sitting on the Senate Finance Committee) can do for your industry’s bottom line.  Teddy Partridge at Campaign Silo sums it all up nicely: “Health insurance executives who have poured money into the campaign coffers of Blue Dogs, Max Baucus, Chuck Grassley, Kent Conrad, Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins (as well as their political action committees) likely made all their money back in the one day rise in stock prices. The companies themselves, which hold huge amounts of their own stock, surely recouped all of their PAC investments on Tuesday alone.

HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES Time for a kegger…stocks are up, the bill would force millions of new people to become their customers, and all they have to do is accept people with pre-existing conditions.  All that’s left is to kill is the excise tax on their most expensive policies for the wealthiest Americans, and the proposed fees the bill would force them to pay.  But even if they can’t get out of these taxes/fees, it’s no big deal…they’ve already said they’ll just pass these costs onto all their customers (it’s not like they’re going to pay them out of their profits!).

Of course, the media isn’t helping Americans to realize how truly ridiculous this bill is…CNN, AP, and others published news items shortly after the bill’s release that claimed the bill represented the “majority of what Obama wanted.“  Why did they print this?  Just because Senator Baucus SAID the bill was the majority of what Obama asked for.  In truth, the bill is everything the Republicans and the Health Care industry asked for…and almost NOTHING that Obama and the Democrats insisted was necessary.  Almost ridiculously, the bill features the GOP’s two biggest talking points (no policies for illegals, no federal money for abortions) when these issues are ALREADY addressed in our laws, and no further mention is necessary unless the bill included a public option…which it DOES NOT.

I’ll leave you today with three items for your entertainment and personal edification.  The first is a link to Matt Taibbi’s excellent article, “Sick and Wrong,” from the last issue of Rolling Stone.  In his usual, inimitable style, Taibbi outlines how truly AWFUL our current system is…and why our elected officials may be the absolutely wrong people to count on in terms of fixing it, unless American citizens REALLY put the pressure on them.

The second item, is an article from this month’s Newsweek titled, “No Country For Sick Men.”  It should upset us…that we are the ONLY industrialized, democratic nation that does not openly propose that ALL of our citizens have a right to health care.  It should upset us…that we are the ONLY industrialized, democratic nation that has “medical bankruptcies” and that these make up 68% of our total bankruptcies.  It should upset us…that we are the ONLY industrialized, democratic nation that allows tens of thousands of people to die each year because they don’t have access to health care.  The author, in examining our system and those of others clearly asks:  what exactly do these facts say about us AS A PEOPLE AND A NATION?

And lastly, Rachel Maddow discusses the Senate Health Care bill with…yes, the bill itself: