A lot of Progressives have been upset with President Obama’s failure to live up to their lofty standards. Apparently, they believed the oft regurgitated bullshit National Journal meme about Obama being the “most liberal Senator,” and imagined all their policy-related dreams coming true. Obama supporters like myself understood he is not a liberal idealist and much more a consensus-building pragmatist. For the most part, this has been reflected in his 1st year as Chief. For instance, the Lily Ledbetter Act, SCHIP expansion, and certain environmental measures are examples of welcome departures from 8 years of destructive policies. And while I don’t agree with his plan for Afghanistan, he stressed the issue during his entire campaign. People shouldn’t be surprised.
Which brings me to health care. With some exceptions, I am an unapologetic liberal. I support a single-payer government-run health system. Cover everyone. Pass on the administrative savings. Provide better care. However, like many liberal policies, this is not supported by any corporate interests, thus making its passage an impossibility in America. But what about a Public Option? What about Medicare expansion? Two policies with overwhelming public support. Off the table. Thus, we’re apparently left with the Senate’s current “compromise.”
From what I can tell, the current bill does nothing to control costs. More people might be covered, but that’s just because mandates will come into effect. With no not-for-profit, government-run public option, there will be no increase in competition. With no premium caps, insurance companies can continue their current business model of “charging people more for worse coverage.” Someone tell me how this addresses our current problems. Most people filing for Bankruptcy because of health care bills HAVE health insurance. It’s just shitty insurance that won’t help if the “insured” is diagnosed with something catastrophic. That’s part of the currently broken system. I’m not sure what will change.
As Greenwald notes, some progressives have been quick to come to Obama’s defense. I mean, the White House is just the victim of a few Conservative Democratic Senators bought + sold by the insurance companies, right? I don’t know. I might have to agree with Sen. Feingold on this one:
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), among the most vocal supporters of the public option, said it would be unfair to blame Lieberman for its apparent demise. Feingold said that responsibility ultimately rests with President Barack Obama and he could have insisted on a higher standard for the legislation.
“This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place, so I don’t think focusing it on Lieberman really hits the truth,” said Feingold. “I think they could have been higher. I certainly think a stronger bill would have been better in every respect.”
I am not a health care expert, but it’s pretty easy to read patterns of behavior. The White House had no problem pressuring Democrats when they needed votes for the War Spending Bill. But Obama puts up no fight for a public option, medicare expansion, etc? Why is he doing this? This will be the defining legislation of his first term. He’s not powerless, so what’s the logical answer?
It’s most likely this is the Bill he wants. Look at the White House reaction chastising Howard Dean for coming out against the Bill, as opposed to their virtual reacharound to accommodate Lieberman, who criticized it from the other (industry) side.
What is happening seems to be just another example of the appropriation of our government by Corporatism. I keep picturing another unqualified disaster/giveaway like Bush’s Medicare Part D.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the proposed Senate Bill is the first step in improving a system that provides no care for some, substandard care for many, and all at exponentially rising costs. Also, I support Obama’s previous health care measures: SCHIP, tobacco regulation, and stimulus funds for Medicaid, COBRA subsidies, health information technology and the National Institutes of Health. You could also throw stem cell research in there. On a personal level, the COBRA subsidy provided me great assistance following my job loss earlier this year ($385/mo. premium down to $165/mo.)
And I’m trying not to lose perspective of the following…
The Institute of Medicine’s methodology says 22,000 people died in 2006 because they didn’t have health-care coverage. A recent Harvard study found the number nearer to 45,000.
So please someone tell me why I’m wrong.
(Note: I started writing this yesterday evening. Coincidentally, I received this e-mail from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois mid-post:
from email@example.com to XXXXXXX@gmail.com date Thu, Dec 17, 2009 at 5:36 PM subject Important Information regarding your BCBSIL Application – Primary Applicant: MATTHEW X X mailed-by hscil.com hide details 5:36 PM (15 hours ago)
Based on the information provided on your application, we are unable to extend an offer of coverage. A detailed explanation of this decision will be sent to you shortly.)
I’m a relatively healthy 30 year old, with only one pre-existing red flag. I’m trying to move from COBRA to an individual policy.
Maybe I answered my own question.