August 17th, 2009 By | News | Posted In: Healthcare Reform, Congress, President Obama

How the Rest of the World Views Us

A political firestorm has erupted about the Obama Administration’s mixed signals over the weekend on its willingness to eliminate the so-called “public option” from proposed health care reform legislation in Congress.

Once some administration officials began giving indications on the Sunday political chat shows that Obama might discard his calls for a public insurance system to compete with the private sector in order to win Republican votes, many progressive Democrats and grassroots groups began a revolt.

If the public option is scuttled, it now appears as though there won’t be enough Democratic votes for any reform bill to pass the House of Representatives. With 435 members in the House, that means 218 votes are needed for passage.

Because it’s highly unlikely that any of the 178 Republican members would vote for the bill no matter what changes are made, that means no more than 38 Democrats can be opposed to still secure passage. But 57 Democrats signed a letter in July stating they wouldn’t vote for a bill unless it contained a public option. If each of those Dems remain true to their word, Congress might be at an impasse.

It’s hard to tell, though, as Obama hasn’t made it clear if he’s ready to abandon the public option.

The public option involves the creation of a government-sponsored insurance plan to compete with private insurance providers. It’s important because it would provide a fallback for people who private companies simply won’t insure. More importantly, it would use economies of scale to negotiate lower prices from physicians and drug companies, providing an incentive for private plans to do the same and finally get serious about eliminating waste and curtailing excessive profit.

Forget all those phony, “Astroturf” Town Hall meetings with the highly manipulated outrage. Sometimes it takes outsiders to give us a clear view of just how bad our current health care system is.

One such sobering account was published Saturday in The Independent, a British newspaper. It detailed how more than 1,500 people — all poor and uninsured or under-insured — recently showed up at a Los Angeles stadium to receive free medical care offered by Remote Area Medical, a charity.

Here’s an excerpt:

Along the hall, Liz Cruise was one of scores of people waiting for a free eye exam. She works for a major supermarket chain but can't afford the $200 a month that would be deducted from her salary for insurance. "It's a simple choice: pay my rent, or pay my healthcare. What am I supposed to do?" she asked. "I'm one of the working poor: people who do work but can't afford healthcare and are ineligible for any free healthcare or assistance. I can't remember the last time I saw a doctor."

Although the Americans spend more on medicine than any nation on earth, there are an estimated 50 million with no health insurance at all. Many of those who have jobs can't afford coverage, and even those with standard policies often find it doesn't cover commonplace procedures. California's unemployed – who rely on Medicaid – had their dental care axed last month.

Most Americans like to think their nation is the best in everything, but it’s clear we’ve lagged behind other industrialized democracies when it comes to health care. Other nations — like Britain, Germany and Japan — spend less for medical care and have better outcomes.

It’s time we fix this national tragedy, and put people before corporate profits.

08.17.2009 at 06:33 Reply
We're #37! That's according to the World Health Organization anyway. We pay twice as much as every other industrialized nation and get far worse results. Blue Dog Democrats like Steve Driehaus won't support Medicare-for-all because they've taken too much health industry payola. They want to keep the health insurance bureaucrats (big campaign contributors) running our health care system. The current Pay or Die system is a bureaucratic nightmare, wasting $350 billion—close to a third of all health care spending on things that have nothing to do with health care—overhead, underwriting, billing, sales and marketing departments, huge profits and exorbitant executive pay. It allows more than 18,000 people to die every year from a lack of health insurance according to the National Institute of Medicine. No other industrialized nation allows that and the pay half of what we pay per capita.


08.18.2009 at 08:58 Reply
Sent to me from an ex-pat in Ireland: You didn't get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President. You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy. You didn't get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed. You didn't get mad when the Patriot Act got passed. You didn't get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us. You didn't get mad when we spent over 600 billion(and counting) on said illegal war. You didn't get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq. You didn't get mad when you saw the Abu Grahib photos. You didn't get mad when you found out we were torturing people. You didn't get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans. You didn't get mad when we didn't catch Bin Laden. You didn't get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed. You didn't get mad when we let a major US city drown. You didn't get mad when the deficit hit the trillion dollar mark. You didn't get mad when we gave roughly a trillion dollars to corrupt banks with virtually no strings, no oversight, and no indictments. You finally got mad when.. when... wait for it... when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, are all ok with you but helping other Americans... well f$%^ that. That about right? You know it is. You people have all lost your f#$%ing minds. You are selfish, greedy, obnoxious, narcissistic, and frankly... stupid. Your pathetic little misspelled protest signs are embarrassing. Maybe you ought to find the smart person in your midst and let them make up all the signs, cause man, you look like a bunch of idiots. Also you're ugly and your mother dresses you funny.


08.18.2009 at 12:38 Reply
Just to be clear, wasn't sent specifically to "me"... I WAS made about all those things.... ;-)


08.18.2009 at 12:45 Reply
So many of the working poor. Scared to get a better job because you'll make more on the hour, but you'll loose needed health services.


08.18.2009 at 08:16 Reply
Liz couldn't scrape together $200 a month. Liz has to work just around 7 extra hours a week at a second job (minimum wage) (7 X 7.25 (min. wage)=50 X4=200 to get insurance (also I'm not including the tax benefits she's missing out on). This example shows that many people wisely or unwisely would rather spend their money on other things (I never had insurance from 18-36).


08.20.2009 at 05:31
Liz shouldn't have to pay for over-priced health insurance. The U.S. has the most expensive and least efficient health care system in the world. 50 to 60 people die everyday from a lack of health insurance in the worlds only super power. The U.S. is a sick nation. Medicare-for-all is supported by a majority of doctors, nurses and the American people.


08.21.2009 at 08:44
Trey learn MATH and TAX Deductions. $7.25 X 40 = $290 - 25 percent Fed/City/State Tax = $217.00 a week x's 4 = $870 a month. HOW in the world is someone who clears $870.00 a month be able to afford a $200.00 deduction for Health insurance, be able to afford the co-pays, pay rent, utilities, food and other necessities. Take the Tea Bags out of your ears and your head out of your a@@ please.