Sunday, December 20, 2009

The health care bill that became sick

This bill needs to either change or die.

Those who support the health care bill basically fall into two categories:
  1. You are a Democrat looking for reelection
  2. You are a Democrat who thinks that the merits of the bill outweigh the bad stuff
So, what are the bill's merits? Health insurance companies wouldn't be able to deny people based on preexisting conditions. More people would have health coverage when all is said and done. Government subsidies would help people who can't afford their plans.

BUT...the bad parts are striking. So striking, we need bullet points:
  • No public option or medicare buy-in. Medicare/Medicaid plans aren't expanded nearly enough for average people looking for federally-backed insurance to get what they want and need, and this fact will cost us $25 billion extra. Also, this hampers any plans for single-payer, which is what would get us on par with the rest of the industrialized world.
  • Mandated health insurance from private corporations. People are going to be forced to buy health care from private companies, feeding into the broken system we already have. This is exactly the opposite of what single-payer and even the public option was trying to accomplish. Although government subsidies would aid those who can't afford insurance, it will still be financially stressful on the underclass.
  • While the preexisting conditions part would apply to children immediately, adults would not be put under disease-discrimination protection until 2014. Health care expenses are the single biggest cause of bankruptcy in the United States, and with the economy the way it is, waiting five years is not an option for many people.
  • Insurance companies would be able to charge 300% more based on age. The bill leaves older people who are struggling financially with little help besides band-aid subsidies for payment for insurance. This is blatantly legalized ageism.
  • While it does not outlaw abortion, the bill significantly restricts a woman's right to choose because it mandates that no federal funding will help cover abortion procedures. Also, each state needs to offer at least one form of insurance through the exchange plan that does not include abortion coverage. Essentially, poor women will not be able to get abortions at the same rate that rich women can. Gender-class warfare anyone?
Women's rights are being exploited through the bill, but I think the main argument against it is that it equates getting more people covered with a path to universal health care. Just because someone is allowed to get health care doesn't mean they can afford it, and if they can't, it doesn't count as having affordable health insurance. It sounds obvious, but this is the same logic that George W. Bush used when he declared that Americans have universal health care (you can go to an emergency room for free!), and it's the same logic being used now by centrist Democrats.

I will leave you with this blog post from Glenn Greenwald. He does a great job connecting this bill with the steady corporatist culture in Washington, DC. Oh the city in which I live!

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