Health care reformers should admit that this bill strengthens the for-profit system

I’ve been trying all day long to write a post about health care, and I just haven’t been able to get anywhere.  The source of my frustration, after the jump.

To be honest, there are all sorts of aggravating things flying around the Internets right now.  This idiotic post from TNR’s Jonathan Chait really exemplifies what it means to kneel at the alter of Establishment Politics.  Headlined “Keep Your 16 Grand, You Freaks” — a reference to money FireDogLake raised for Dennis Kucinich after he promised to vote no on any bill not containing a public option — the post contains Chait’s brave insults toward Kucinich and FDL for being liberals, apparently.  Tim Egan engaged in similar shenanigans yesterday, which I wrote about here.  The idea that Dennis Fucking Kucinich is the goddamn enemy of health care reform and should be treated with scorn, regardless of how he ends up voting, is so simple-minded that it doesn’t even deserve to be responded to. 

But the main source of my frustration, the burr in my heel I just can’t remove, is this fantastic post from Jon Walker over at FDL.  The title is “It’s Not That the Health Care Bill Does Too Little Good, It’s That It Does Too Much Harm,” and I highly recommend reading it in full.  Here’s one especially convincing passage:

The Senate bill further entrenches the private health insurance system. It continues the terrible pattern of privatizing our social safety net in such a way that business skims 20% off the top. It makes sure the big, life saving medications of the future remain incredibly expensive, so as to enrich the drug industry. It takes a giant step towards eroding women’s reproductive rights. It wastes hundreds of millions to fortify the same, broken health care system that is crushing our economy. The worst part is I don’t see anything in this bill that might serve as a path to real reform. There is no public option or Medicare buy-in. There is no proper state single payer waiver. There is no mechanism to move to an all-payer system and/or a clear path to force for-profit companies out of the health insurance market.   

Those are very real, very legitimate concerns that no one, as far as I can tell, has adequately addressed.  The closest you get is someone writing, “this bill is not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction.”  Ezra Klein, writing back in December about the Senate bill, which the final bill will resemble almost identically, said this:

“This is a good bill,” Sen. Sherrod Brown said on Countdown last night. “Not a great bill, but a good bill.” That’s about right. But the other piece to remember is that more than it’s a good bill, it’s a good start. With $900 billion in subsidies already in place, it’s easier to add another hundred billion later, if we need it, than it would be to pass $1 trillion in subsidies in 2011. With the exchanges built and private insurers unable to hold down costs, it’s easier to argue for adding a strong public option to the market than it was before we’d tried regulation and a new competitive structure. [emphasis added.]

Again, that was back in December, but the larger point stands.  I don’t see how any single-payer or public option advocates can say that this bill increases the odds that we’ll see fundamental reform any time soon.  What evidence is there that there will be more political will in the near future to create a public option?  Virtually the entire liberal blogosphere is now banding behind the health care bill, and that’s fine.  But you can’t have it both ways.  This bill covers 30 million new people and will make it more difficult for insurance companies to exclude patients based on pre-existing conditions (neither one of which is a small feat), but it is not a step away from a for-profit based model.  It is a strengthening of our current system, and those who are urging its passage should understand it as such.  

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11 Responses to Health care reformers should admit that this bill strengthens the for-profit system

  1. gracenearing says:

    It is a strengthening of our current system, and those who are urging its passage should understand it as such.

    I view ObamaCare as an evolutionary transition from our dysfunctional and soon-to-be extinct traditional employer-based health insurance to a full-on public option system.

    For a variety of reasons, the for-profit healthcare sector is doomed to implode over the next 5 to 10 years. The demographics are against the sector; more and more of the population will be qualifying for Medicare. It’s inevitable. And just as that’s occuring, the pool of middle-class people who can afford to pay medical insurance premiums is getting smaller and smaller.

    This can’t be sustained forever. That ObamaCare may temporarily strengthen the for-profit sector may well be a feature and not a bug. You really don’t want the healthcare system to freeze up and crash the way the way Wall Street did. ObamaCare might guarantee a softer landing.

    • alibeamish says:

      It’s a step in the wrong direction.
      The for profit system would blow up
      except now they get gov’t money (subsidies) and those making 50,000 can be forced to pay up to 9,000
      The bill helps insurance and drug companies

  2. core2010 says:

    This health care plan focusses on health insurance. My thought has always been that we need to remove the middleman (insurance companies) and focus on a direct payment system (government paying health providers). Leaving the insurance companies in the picture basically leaves a large profit layer there. They need to make a profit and this health care “reform” basically keeps them financially fed.

    On the other hand, I’m certainly not excited about the government being increasingly involved in my life. There aren’t too many “success stories” when it comes to the government knowing what they’re doing. Look at the stimulus package. It went from “creating” jobs to “saving” jobs. And, it went from “jump-starting” the economy to “lessening” how deep the recession would go. So much for stopping the growth of unemployment too. Where are the jobs? Our government makes a lot of promises and throws a lot of cash at the wind. In the end, they experiment with our economy and sucker us into buying their salesmanship. They paint themselves as change agents. They paint themselves as different than the other party. But, they’re all about the same.

    Obama started his presidency with an attempt at bipartisanship. But, it quickly became evident that the House and Senate were not on the same page. Instead of showing leadership and mandating bipartisanship, he gave control of his agenda to the partisan establishment. Now, he’s doing a 180 on all of his promises of transparency and a host of other promises. I applaud some of his recent attempts. But, at the same time, I dislike that 60% of the USA doesn’t want THIS health care plan implemented… and yet he and his cohorts are going to push it through. This is unfortunate because, as mentioned before, it’s health INSURANCE focussed. Why are we continuing to feed the insurance companies? I personally don’t think that costs will get under control as a result of this legislation.

    I don’t support the Republican ideals either. Something needs to be done. How about opening military hospitals to the poor? They’re government run. If we just expand them we could reach more people. Of course, they’re in limited areas. But, it would be a start. Offer free health care via government run hospitals. Other countries do this. If you want free care you go to a public hospital. If you want fast care, you pay for it. It’s not perfect. But, what is?

  3. andylevinson says:

    The only way the first President to hide his birth certificate could get this passed is by unlawful un-Constitutional methods…which is going to court about 30 seconds after Obama signs this fraud:

    “The lawsuit will name President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and “other relevant cabinet members” as defendants. Those cabinet members are Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.”

    ” Said Levin:

    Landmark has already prepared a lawsuit that will be filed in federal court the moment the House acts. Such a brazen violation of the core functions of Congress simply cannot be ignored. Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution is clear respecting the manner in which a bill becomes law. Members are required to vote on this bill, not claim they did when they didn’t. The Speaker of the House and her lieutenants are temporary custodians of congressional authority. They are not empowered to do permanent violence to our Constitution.”

  4. libtree09 says:

    Citizen Andy,

    Nancy Pelosi tried to take the procedure to court in 1995 with Nader’s Public Citizen Group…they lost. Here is the decision:

    The District Court held that Public Citizen’s bicameralism claim is foreclosed by the Supreme Court’s decision in Marshall Field & Co. v. Clark, 143 U.S. 649 (1892). See Public Citizen v. Clerk, U.S. Dist. Ct. for D.C., 451 F. Supp. 2d 109 (D.D.C. 2006). In that case, the Court held that the judiciary must treat the attestations of “the two houses, through their presiding officers” as “conclusive evidence that [a bill] was passed by Congress.” Marshall Field, 143 U.S. 672-73. Under Marshall Field, a bill signed by the leaders of the House and Senate – an attested “enrolled bill” – establishes that Congress passed the text included therein “according to the forms of the Constitution,” and it “should be deemed complete and unimpeachable.” Id. at 672-73. Recognizing that Marshall Field’s “enrolled bill rule” prohibited it from questioning the congressional pedigree of the bill signed by the Speaker and President pro tempore, the District Court dismissed Public Citizen’s complaint and denied its motion for summary judgment. Public Citizen, 451 F. Supp. 2d 109. …

    We agree with the District Court that the enrolled bill rule of Marshall Field controls the disposition of this case. We therefore affirm the judgment of the District Court. We find it unnecessary to determine whether Public Citizen has standing to bring suit, because we conclude that the Marshall Field rule of dismissal “represents the sort of ‘threshold question’ [that] . . . may be resolved before addressing jurisdiction.” Tenet v.Doe, 544 U.S. 1, 6 n.4 (2005).

  5. Herb Lepp says:

    Health care reform isn’t reform. US Health care isn’t being made better or improved without a tax or debt, or both. It’s mere expansion of coverate and further heavy regulation of insurace firms based upon higher taxes and debt that will simply make the current dysfunctional US heath care more so and result in higher health costs and reduced health services.

    President Obama said cost reduction of health care is more important than universal coverage. But what do we have? Expansion of coverage and no cost reduction.

    No one could say our health care is well designed. Employer provided health care was based on a plan to get around government regulation a long time ago.

    The health care bills are nonsense without any rational or evidence based business plan. Every citizen should wish upon a star because that is the only hope to produce or achieve qualtiy health care at a reasonable cost.

  6. artguerrilla says:

    1. *STILL* annoyed that virtually NO ONE (except a few besieged and besmirched posters against this rabid dog of a bill) will address the fundamental question: is a MANDATE to buy private ‘stuff’ constitutional ? ? ?
    i guess its just me, but that seems kind of fundamentally important…
    (as i’ve posted before: WHEN the fucking rethugs ARE back in power, idiot dem’rats have handed them a goose to lay all kinds of golden eggs to private companies…)
    2. regardless of the ‘legality’ (does that even have meaning any more? kongress just legalizes the illegal, and they rest they ignore), is it FAIR and JUST to have a MANDATE without a compensating mechanism to keep the rapacious insurance parasites in check ? ? ?
    3. as the writer -and numerous posters- allude to, the health insurance parasites are THE number one problem with this system; they are being formally entrenched -and will run!- the whole mess after this cloud of dust settles…
    4. i have NEVER had one koolaid drunk obama sycophant explain WHY we are to trust either ‘our’ (sic) dem’rat kongresskritters OR obama, who have RENEGED on ALL their ‘pledges’ and ‘promises’, AND have EXTENDED AND ENHANCED nearly every single outrage of the bush klavern…
    WHAT ACTIONS have they taken thus far that should inspire such trust and certitude that they will ‘fix’ this rabid dog after the fact ? ? ?
    i don’t believe it for a second: they are going to vote for this shit, and IMMEDIATELY move on to making no child’s behind left unspanked more draconian; PLUS their ‘bi-partisan’ commish (for cover) which will -surprisingly enough- recommend privatizing social security…
    fucking bet on it…
    once again, it has taken spineless korporate dem’rats to ‘accomplish’ what rethugs have been unable to do for decades…
    5. *AND* -as per fucking usual- not one word DARE be breathed about the military/wars eating us out of house and home… not ONE PENNY is taken away from those bloated, greedy, EVIL pieces of shit…
    i am all for health care system REFORM, this has little of significance in that regard: this is total health insurance bailout, plain and simple…
    but guess what ? ? ?
    NOW dem’rats have guaranteed all the big medicine money will finance them to perpetuate korporate domination in perpetuity…
    fuck’em all…
    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy

  7. Byron Moore says:

    You’re right, and in a perfect world we’d have the best bill. But this is a plurality system with hardcore opposition. Just creating a net that put everyone in is a start, but the hyper-liberal stance that we should give up till we get the magical silver bullet, thus screwing a ton of people until we get the votes or the wherewithal to just pass something to build on, well that argument really is garbage.

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