Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Victorious Defeat

Obama’s health care bill has passed. One good thing is the Repugs lost. It feels good to know their pure obstructionism didn’t prevail. However, this will only fire up the Tea baggers more, and they are mad. Not only angry mad, they’re positively bonkers. In fact, this is good - if you care about Repug-Dummo politics - because they’re turning the right wing into raving crazies and turning off the populace as a whole, thus to the Dummo’s benefit. The raucous right will insure that any Repug who’s the least bit moderate will lose in the primaries and then their radical candidate will be trounced in the general election.

The other good thing is the Dummos can say they did something. Some people are ranking it right up there with Social Security and Medicare as a social breakthrough; what total bullshit. I’m not saying it’s all bad: It does make improvements, such as curb insurance industry bad behavior and add a few little tweaks, like money for community health centers, thanks to Senator Bernie Sanders.

On the other hand, there is nothing substantive to contain costs thanks to Obama’s back door deals with the industry. He figured he needed to buy off their opposition. It worked: industry was solidly behind the legislation. The bottom line? Industry estimates that coverage for a family of four will increase more than 100% over the next decade (as it did in the last decade) and cost about $25,000 per year. A large percentage of Americans don’t even earn that much in a year.

Yes, but 30 million more Americans will be covered. For one thing, that part doesn’t even take effect until 2014. Since it’s variously calculated that between 20,000 and 45,000 Americans a year die because they don’t have insurance, somewhere between 80,000 and 180,000 people will needlessly die in the next four years.

Half that 30 mil will have coverage by virtue of the mandate that requires you to have insurance. Of course, there’s nothing to say what the level of coverage will be. $10,000 out of pocket before coverage begins? 40% copays? Why not? Thus the number of Americans filing for bankruptcy because of medical costs who have insurance (the majority) will continue to rise.

The other half will have the equivalent of indigent insurance in the form of expanded Medicaid. In contrast to Medicare which is a federal program and liked by nearly all, Medicaid is run by the states and (depending on the individual state) is generally underfunded to the point where large numbers of eligible people are excluded. Federal involvement will change that, but it’ll still be jalopy-class coverage. Many doctors will not accept Medicaid patients, because of low reimbursement rates; that’ll probably not change. Subsidies for increased coverage will be partially paid for by taxing Cadillac plans, thus either lowering quality for the only people who actually have decent coverage or reducing their numbers.

The remaining 15 mil who are presently uninsured? They’ll stay uninsured so for them it’ll continue to be emergency rooms and unnecessary death.

But it’s so great to say, We won! We won! Meanwhile, the cost to the Dummos? Integrity. Sixty Dummo house members said they’d never vote for a bill without a public option. Once again they ate mud and voted against their consciences. You know how it goes: The leadership says, We don’t have to take your progressive views into account because you are spineless and besides you have nowhere to go. It’s either our sold-out party or nothing.

You bleeding-heart do-gooders are way out there on the radical left-wing fringe so not to be taken seriously. The fact that the public option, as well as single payer, are consistently approved by majorities of more than 60% of Americans, not to mention 90% of Democrats, is of no matter in the ‘real’ world. In the real world of American politics the views of a small number of elite, those who also happen to dole out the campaign contributions or pay for negative advertising, counts a lot more than a super majority of the American people.

Before the legislation takes full effect there’ll be widespread clamor for real change, a better plan, one that actually takes the views of the majority into account.

So a great victory for Obama and the Dummos, but a hollow one destined to be short-lived.

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