Chris Hedges on health care "reform"
Source Louis Proyect
Date 10/03/22/11:59

The Health Care Hindenburg Has Landed
By Chris Hedges

Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s decision to vote “yes” in Sunday’s House
action on the health care bill, although he had sworn to oppose
the legislation unless there was a public option, is a perfect
example of why I would never be a politician. I respect Kucinich.
As politicians go, he is about as good as they get, but he is
still a politician. He has to run for office. He has to raise
money. He has to placate the Democratic machine or risk
retaliation and defeat. And so he signed on to a bill that will do
nothing to ameliorate the suffering of many Americans, will force
tens of millions of people to fork over a lot of money for a
defective product and, in the end, will add to the ranks of our

The claims made by the proponents of the bill are the usual
deceptive corporate advertising. The bill will not expand coverage
to 30 million uninsured, especially since government subsidies
will not take effect until 2014. Families who cannot pay the high
premiums, deductibles and co-payments, estimated to be between 15
and 18 percent of most family incomes, will have to default,
increasing the number of uninsured. Insurance companies can
unilaterally raise prices without ceilings or caps and monopolize
local markets to shut out competitors. The $1.055 trillion spent
over the next decade will add new layers of bureaucratic red tape
to what is an unmanageable and ultimately unsustainable system.

The mendacity of the Democratic leadership in the face of this
reality is staggering. Howard Dean, who is a doctor, said
recently: “This is a vote about one thing: Are you for the
insurance companies or are you for the American people?” Here is a
man who once championed the public option and now has sold his
soul. What is the point in supporting him or any of the other
Democrats? How much more craven can they get?

Take a look at the health care debacle in Massachusetts, a model
for what we will get nationwide. One in six people there who have
the mandated insurance say they cannot afford care, and tens of
thousands of people have been evicted from the state program
because of budget cuts. The 45,000 Americans who die each year
because they cannot afford coverage will not be saved under the
federal legislation. Half of all personal bankruptcies will still
be caused by an inability to pay astronomical medical bills. The
only good news is that health care stocks and bonuses for the
heads of these corporations are shooting upward. Chalk this up as
yet another victory for our feudal overlords and a defeat for the

The U.S. spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on
health care—$7,129 per capita—although 45.7 million Americans
remain without health coverage and millions more are inadequately
covered, meaning that if they get seriously ill they are not
covered. Fourteen thousand Americans a day are now losing their
health coverage. A report in the journal Health Affairs estimates
that, if the system is left unchanged, one of every five dollars
spent by Americans in 2017 will go to health coverage. Private
insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume 31 cents of every
health care dollar. Streamlining payment through a single
nonprofit payer would save more than $400 billion per year,
enough, Physicians for a National Health Plan points out, to
provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans.
Check out It has some of the best analysis.

This bill is not about fiscal responsibility or the common good.
The bill is about increasing corporate profit at taxpayer expense.
It is the health care industry’s version of the Wall Street
bailout. It lavishes hundreds of billions in government subsidies
on insurance and drug companies. The some 3,000 health care
lobbyists in Washington, whose dirty little hands are all over the
bill, have once more betrayed the American people for money. The
bill is another example of why change will never come from within
the Democratic Party. The party is owned and managed by
corporations. The five largest private health insurers and their
trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, spent more than $6
million on lobbying in the first quarter of 2009. Pfizer, the
world’s biggest drug maker, spent more than $9 million during the
last quarter of 2008 and the first three months of 2009. The
Washington Post reported that up to 30 members of Congress from
both parties who hold key committee memberships have major
investments in health care companies totaling between $11 million
and $27 million. President Barack Obama’s director of health care
policy, who will not discuss single payer as an option, has served
on the boards of several health care corporations. And as salaries
for most Americans have stagnated or declined during the past
decade, health insurance profits have risen by 480 percent.

Obama and the congressional leadership have consciously shut out
advocates of single payer from the debate. The press, including
papers such as The New York Times, treats single payer as a fringe
movement. The television networks rarely mention it. And yet
between 45 and 60 percent of doctors favor single payer. Between
40 and 62 percent of the American people, including 80 percent of
registered Democrats, want universal, single-payer not-for-profit
health care for all Americans. The ability of the corporations to
discredit and silence voices that represent at least half of the
population is another sad testament to the power of our corporate
state to frame all discussions.

Change will come only by building movements that stand in fierce
and uncompromising opposition to the Democrats and the
Republicans. If they can herd Kucinich and John Conyers, the
sponsors of House Resolution 676, a bill that would create a
publicly funded National Health Program by eliminating private
health insurers, onto the House floor to vote for this corporate
theft, what is the point in pretending there is any room left for
us in the party? And why should we waste our time with gutless
liberal groups such as, which felt the need to collect
more than $1 million to pressure House Democrats who had voted
“no” on the original bill to recant? What was this purportedly
anti-war group doing anyway serving as an obsequious recruiting
arm of the Obama election campaign? The longer we tie ourselves to
the Democrats and these bankrupt liberal organizations the more
ridiculous and impotent we appear.

“I’m ready to listen to the White House, if the White House is
ready to listen to the concerns about putting a public option in
this bill,” the old Kucinich said on the “Democracy Now!” radio
and television program before he flipped. “I mean, they can do
that. You know, they’re still cutting last-minute deals. Put the
public option back in. Make it a robust public option. Give the
people a chance to really negotiate rates with the insurance
companies … from the standpoint of having a public option. But
don’t just tell the people that you’re going to call this health
care reform, when you’re giving insurance companies an even more
powerful monopoly status in our economy.”

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