The Health Care Hindenburg Has Landed

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 uninsured.

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 serfs.

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 www.healthcare-now.org.
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 Moveon.org,
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."