Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Health Care Reform Follies: The Obama Retreat from Change... into the Waiting Hands of the Private Insurance Corporations

Now that the Obama administration has gotten itself lost in the forest of its own naive search for bipartisan agreement on a Health Reform plan that Republicans never had any intention of supporting, the Administration appears to be retreating directly into the open hands of the Private Insurance lobby, which will be delighted to see Obama promoting a private "reform" plan that forces tens of millions of new customers into its insurance coffers without any threat of competition from a public plan. But if this is what the Obama administration has lead us to, we must all now ask: Where have all the promises of change melted away to?

When it comes to defending any hope for true reform against the full-fledged political assault waged by the private corporate insurance lobby and the army of supporters who stopped at nothing, including the promotion of the most absurd fear-mongering and lies (such as “unplugging grandma”) in order to try to scare Americans into thinking that any change in the status quo of health care would lead to terrible results (AS IF the current system is not leading to terrible results!!!), I guess we can no longer depend on the Obama administration to uphold our hopes for change. Instead, President Obama seems to be abandoning all dedication to change in order to engage in a full-armed embrace of the corporate interests of the Private Insurance industry!

After having made the huge mistake of initiating the Health Reform struggle from a weak position that did not even allow Single Payer options on the table, the Obama administration is now further abandoning--even before the real battle in Congress has begun--the shadow of the so-called “public option,” which Obama had originally indicated was at the core of his whole reform proposal. Now even that public option has become “optional,” in order for the Administration and Democratic Congress to pass a health care bill, whether or not there is any reform left in it!

But what is the point of passing a Health Care Reform Bill that has been gutted of anything resembling real Reform?!!

What has happened to the Health Reform in Obama's Health plan? Simply put, the Private Insurance Industry seems to have been handed an amazing victory, even before Congress returns from its recess, as the Obama administration collapses into the hands of the Insurance Lobby without even putting up much of a struggle.

--So much for Reform; so much for the Hope for real Change! In place of CHANGE, the Obama administration now seems to be willing to surrender anything, including the public option, in order to be able to pass any kind of health care bill, even if Reform and Change have been gutted from the soul of the bill.

Since the Obama administration seems now to be abandoning all Hope in the Struggle for Change, even before the end of its first year in office, it's now up to all Americans who still believe in Change and the need for true Health Reform to rise up and require their Congressional representatives to completely reject the sad excuse for a health reform bill that the Obama administration is preparing to hand us.

With this in mind, and following the demands of his constituents, New York House Representative Weiner and other supporters of a Single Payer plan have called on all House Democrats to reject the soulless version of health reform embodied in HR 3200, and instead to demand that a true Single Payer Reform bill (HR 676) replace it.

All Americans who care about Health Reform and Health Justice for All, may go to Healthcare Now to learn about the Single Payer option, HR 676, and how to support it. If we do not wish to follow a soulless Congress and Administration along the path of abandoning all Hope for significant Health Care Reform, it is crucial that we all act now to CALL AND HOLD our Congressional representatives, and the Obama administration, to account!

We voted for President Obama in the belief he would help us to bring about the Change we need. But now it seems Obama is quickly heading down the path to becoming just another tedious politician who is more interested in appearing to pass legislation, rather than in actually helping to change things for the better. If we care about the soul of this Administration, and the promises of change it embodied for the American people, it's now time to hold President Obama and our Congressional representatives to their promises, and to require them to uphold the responsibility they have to us, the citizens of this country, to whom all elected politicians, including the President, owe their jobs and their offices.

Here is the letter I wrote to my Congressional representatives (You can write and send a similar one by clicking here):

Dear Representative:

I write to strongly urge and insist on your support for the Weiner Single-Payer Amendment to HR 3200, which will receive a floor vote in September. The Obama administration's weak version of reform is now collapsing, as we predicted it would, under the weight of the private insurance industry's full-throttled and self-interested opposition. Now it is time for all true supporters of health care reform to reject the self-defeating weakness of the current Administration’s version of reform, and to demand instead the full-bodied version of Single Payer reform, and organize to carry forward a true fight for the kind of Health Care Reform that is most needed in the United States.

The weak version of Health Care reform that the Obama admin. has been supporting, with its so-called "public option," is now being abandoned by Obama in the face of the vicious onslaught of distortions and lies sponsored by the private health insurance lobby. This lobby has never had any interest in compromise for true reform, and the vicious attack conducted against even President Obama's weak version of reform has clearly demonstrated the short-sighted and naïve character of the strategy that sought to engage a bipartisan approach to health care reform. Since the Republican party is largely in the lap of the private health care industry, where did the Obama administration think bipartisanship could possibly lead them, except into the same lap of compromise and abandoned reform promises that the industry would demand. This outcome was foreshadowed from the very beginning of the Health Care Reform debate, when Obama would not even allow Single Payer options to be placed on the table as an option for discussion. But by abandoning the Single Payer option from the beginning, he has doomed any chance for true Health Care Reform, unless the American people now unite to demand that Single Payer be placed on the table as the only real way to achieve Health Care reform.

Since it is clear the private insurance industry has no interest in compromise, its time for all progressives and Democrats who care about reform to unite around a truly progressive Single Payer Model. The Weiner amendment would replace Division A of HR 3200 with the text of HR 676, the “U.S. National Health Care Act,” sponsored by Rep. John Conyers. This amendment would effectively transform HR 3200 into single-payer legislation, and is now the best way to rescue the health care reform bill from the assured defeat that it will otherwise face. The Single-payer Health Care act is a superior reform to HR 3200 in many ways:

* Single payer would provide universal and comprehensive coverage for all medically necessary services. Unamended, HR 3200 would leave millions uninsured or with skimpy coverage.

* Single payer allows patients free choice of doctor and hospital. Under HR 3200, insurance companies would continue to deny care and restrict access to services.

* Single payer pays for itself by eliminating $400 billion in insurance company administrative waste and redirecting it to care. HR 3200 requires $1 trillion in new revenue in the next decade.

* Single payer establishes proven and effective cost-containing mechanisms to ensure that benefits are sustainable over the long run. HR 3200 lacks effective cost controls.

The Weiner amendment presents an historic opportunity for congressional Members to register their support for single-payer national health insurance as the best way to solve the U.S. healthcare crisis. It additionally will provide a vote that Members can stand by when approached by constituents.

While we recognize the political imperative to pass healthcare reform, it is important to remember that the purpose of reform is to ease the burden for all Americans. Only single-payer healthcare meets that goal—both medically and economically. The Weiner Amendment deserves the vote of all who favor true Health Care reform. I therefore request and urge your support for this Amendment, in order to make clear that you will stand and fight for true health reform for all your constituents and for all of this country's people.

In the absence of such true Reform, the status quo will only continue to consolidate its power, and while our Health Care Reform Follies continue to proliferate, our capacity for true democracy will continue to disintegrate.


Your constituent (one of the people to whom you owe your office and your elected authority)

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