Congress’ Corporate-Driven “Laws Of Diminishing Returns” On Healthcare Reform
NOTE: The use of ALL CAPS in this diary has been rectified. Please follow reasonable non-shouting formatting guidelines in future.
By Michael A. Freeman, Executive Director
Trans-American Alliance for a National Consensus (TANC)
Opt-Out only translates as Sell-Out to conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats and obstructionist Republicans threatening filibusters to block voting on a Healthcare Reform bill — especially in the “Red States” (and any other states for that matter) where they will simply “Opt-Out/Cop-Out” of Public Option and anything resembling “Universal Healthcare.”
I’m not sure why people would want to thank Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Max “No-Public-Caucus” Baucus (D-MT) for this half-measure, pork-laden $900 billion wet-kiss for “big healthcare” being masqueraded as a “consensus” bill proposal (when there has never been an apparent “consensus-building” open public forum on Healthcare Reform to begin with!).
If Reid and the President Obama’s own largely “verbally-articulated” proposals are looking to engineer “new competition” for the health insurance marketplace, these “elected” reps need only look under their arrogant/jaded noses to see there is a quarter-century-old model within federally-created nonprofit “Social Managed Care Plan” (aka “Social HMOs”) organizations offering “Medicare-minimum” rate, “enhanced” health insurance coverage/care services for Senior Citizens – one that can be easily adapted for broadened application to the remaining under-65 American populace as well.
As our citizens’ advocacy organization, Trans-American Alliance for National Consensus (TANC), has written in a 23-page position/research paper, “Rx for U.S. Healthcare Reform” (http://www.transamericanalliance.org), there is an existing/working sub-classification of the Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MA-PD) program that created and fostered a handful of nonprofit-based “Social HMOs” that offer “Medicare-minimum” base rate health insurance, greatly expanded coverage areas, and zero- to minimal-cost deductibles and co-pays for Senior Citizens (please check www.medicare.gov).
This quarter-century-old “Social HMO” program, mandated under the Federal Deficit Reduction Act of 1984, is one of those rare examples of where the federal government is successful introducing LOW-COST competition in the insurance marketplace. These handful of “Social HMOs” — such as Scan Health Plan of Southern/Northern California, Elderplan of the five boroughs of New York City and Kaiser Permanente of the Northwest (Oregon and Washington state) – have proved they can offer much more coverage and much lower prices versus for-profit/big health insurance carriers supposedly offering “low-cost” premiums in the same Medicare Advantage “insurance exchange” program.
“Social HMOs” are here, they’re a reality and it won’t cost more than mere fractions of the $900 billion Congress is looking to blow of OUR tax dollars to quickly broaden their services to the under-65 American populace. Imagine for a moment, with middle- to upper-income Americans opting to buy minimal-cost “Social HMO” health insurance coverage, it will allow these nonprofit organizations to quickly become self-financing/self-sustaining organizations — minus the overwhelming, obsessive profit motivations of the private-sector/pro-profit big health insurance carriers.
It just blows my mind to think that taxpayers are okay with Congress tossing out $900 billion appropriation figures — over half of which would go to For-Profit/Big Health Insurance carriers to control a so-called low-cost “Insurance Exchange” system, according to estimates from Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) — without really thinking of how truly minimal-cost, easily deployable, independently-managed, nonprofit “health insurance organizations” (what TANC coins as “HIOs”) COULD translate to no long-term financial burdens on individual taxpayers.
Come on, we’ve seen this closed-door/closed-forum Congress toss the lamest of proposals, ranging from “penalties” on Americans who don’t have health insurance to a state or national “Insurance Exchanges” run/controlled by the same antitrust For-Profit/Big Health Insurance companies (offering so-called “low-cost” policies). It’s completely sad and a total insult when Congressional leaders and the President say these are “consensus” bills — yes, maybe in our bought-out, “corporatist” congress but, no, when it comes to American citizens having voices in true open-public forum.
Just like with the $789 billion (second) “economic stimulus package” (has anyone really seen much in the infrastructure/public works projects and jobs popping up to lift this economy?) and the unilateral, nearly $1 trillion “corporate welfare” TARP/TALF/CPP program before it, this new pork-laden, ill-conceibed $900 billion “opt-out” plan is Congress and the White House just thinking how it can toss tax dollars out the window and that it will fix everything.
This why the United States is the world’s leading debtor nation at nearly $12 trillion in federal debt — not counting other outside private-sector debt as well. Can you really trust this “representative” bureaucracy to the day-to-day management of a Universal Healthcare system?
In other words, the federal government’s true role should regulatory oversight and upholding laws — something it has also failed to do in this 25-year-plus deregulatory/economic de-construction period. Instead, this federal government needs to shift the ethically-conscious, fiduciary responsibilities of “Universal Healthcare” to nonprofit-base healthcare organizations for independent day-to-day management on the local and regional levels — not in some Congressional offices back in DC!
The great thing about this “Social HMO,” nonprofit model/blueprint is that it can embrace both a public option and/or single-payer components — and it will create hundreds of thousands (maybe millions?) of new, professionally fulfilling nonprofit-sector health insurance jobs to compete against for-profit health insurance carriers. Most importantly, it won’t cost $900 billion dollars and maybe only up to $200 billion for startup and then can be expected to rapidly repay any government funding through new revenue streams generated by consumers buying these minimal-cost insurance policies from nonprofit “HIOs” — instead of from price-gouging, denials-based For-Profit/Big Health Insurance carriers.
A government-run, opt-out healthcare system is doomed to fail, waste billions of taxpayer dollars and is entirely a non-starter, pure and simple. When is our federal government going to trust American citizens from more altruistic, ethics-based nonprofit sectors of healthcare to counter, remedy and save our citizens from this badly broken for-profit/private-sector, “Death Merchant” system?
There needs to be an ethical conscience to this country and it can only happen through you demanding a nonprofit healthcare system — removed from
the obsessive for-profit motivations of private-sector insurance companies and their wall street investors/minders who consistently look for profits to outweigh the safety and security of American lives and well-being hanging in the balance.
It’s time to remove obsessive profit motivations from overriding consideration for maintaining Americans’ health and well-beaing. And Congress is doing this country a complete disservice when they continue to “corporate compromise” away any kind of “public interest” measures that should be built into a true Healthcare Reform bill. Otherwise, it will just be maintaining the status quo “have or have-not” healthcare system leaving 47 million Americans without health insurance and up to 45,000 Americans to die unnecessarily each year due to inadequate or no insurance coverage (according to a recent Harvard Medical study).
Like TANC has been advocating all along with our “Rx for U.S. Healthcare Reform” position paper, the answer lies right under our “elected” representatives’ noses with nonprofit “Social HMOs” working within a small segment of the Medicare Advantage program for Senior Citizens — and it’s time to spread humane, equitable and minimum-cost to the rest of America’s citizenry.
It’s really a no-brainer and Congress doesn’t have to take this protracted tooth-extracting, reinvent the wheel-like approach with universal health care – something that is already offered in various forms in about 50 other developed countries around the world.