Wednesday, March 11, 2009

No Sign of Hell Freezing as Nation Waits for Decent Health Care

The Obama administration is using the time-honored tactic of fake motion to make it seem like they can come through on their promise of health care reform any time in the next eight years.

This article in the St. Petersburg Times has the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget telling congress it's up to them and all options remain open. That sounds like business as usual and a complete cop out. The insurance industry's lobbyists will continue to work Congress as they always have, dividing the votes enough to insure that nothing changes for the better.

All across America, citizens continue to follow the health plan they've been using: Don't Get Sick, Don't Get Injured.

My dentist subscribes to a service called Care Credit. My doctor might also. I haven't asked. It's a deferred-payment credit card that gives you a year to pay off your balance before a hefty interest charge kicks in, retroactive to the date of purchase. So it's basically a time bomb. Pay off in full before the deadline and you owe no extra fees. Fall short by a dime and you owe all the fees you would have owed at something like 23% interest. That's almost a full quarter of whatever price you needed to finance. The year is definitely some help, but if you get several balances open, each with its year, you'd better keep track of your payments to be sure you discharge each of these obligations before the magic date.

Games like this, as well as John McCain's token tax credit that would not have paid half of what a year's health insurance actually costs, and Mitt Romney's Massachusetts plan requiring people to purchase their own health insurance if it is not provided for them are actually considered viable alternatives to a single-payer system covering everyone without all the arm wrestling with private corporations.

Private insurance companies have a profit-driven motive to deny care. As much as it costs them to employ legions of petty minions to stand between the customer and anyone who might actually approve payment for care, actually paying for care apparently costs more. Otherwise, why the legendary obstructionism? Why the scale of premiums that makes even catastrophic care basically unaffordable for people of moderate means over the age of 50? Yes, friends, as you age and are more likely actually to need care, you must bet more with the corporate casino even to stay in the game.

If we are being told to take our lumps and die of whatever befalls us, do NOT turn around and tell us, as Romney would, that we have to piss away what resources we have, buying fake coverage at scandalous prices. Toss us a token tax credit if you like, but quit trying to make us believe that it does more than half-close the spouting artery opened by health insurance premiums and health care costs. I'm being generous to say it half closes it.

Snide Republicans already lob partisan dung-bombs at Obama administration plans for any kind of spending. The usual opposition to a government of the people, by the people, for the people that actually shares the national resources to provide something useful to the people still wields its unchecked power.

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