Monday, July 9, 2012

IN SPADES BUT WHERE'S THE HEART



July 9, 2012

If there’s one clear reason to avoid voting Republican this time around it’s because it’s unhealthy. We’re desperate for jobs, plainly, and we do need to see the economy stabilize, but if you haven’t got your health you haven’t got anything. Count Rugen said that and it’s true.
Before last week’s lackluster job numbers cheered them up again, the veins on apoplectic Republicans’ necks were standing out like knotted rope. Stunned and livid¸ they’d expected Chief Justice John Roberts to toe the party line and smother 2010’s health care reform bill like they told him to because... umm...
For an insider’s explanation let’s turn to last week’s Walton Tribune column by local politician Rob Woodall who has the answer...  Apparently not. He writes only acres of what the Brits and Aussies would call “Shite Lite” – meaningless political jingoism replete with the usual jazzed-up phrases to keep the followers’ heads nodding agreement.
In Rob’s message we see the time-worn buzzwords about freedom and liberty and leadership but nothing of any substance. Lots about comradely shoulder-to-shoulder-ness and commitment “in spades” (too much to ask for a heart). There’s even the fatuous claim of “the president’s takeover of health care”. Evidently he wants rid of that infernal “Obamacare”, but can’t say why. Let’s help him out.
Maybe it’s because a large chunk of Woodall’s campaign money comes from the health industry that stands to benefit whenever oversight and constraints are shaken off. Tea Party treasure Paul Broun receives the same. Plus their own health care is free. These gentlemen are less interested in our wellbeing than in theirs and that of their moneyed sponsors.
Yet despite their wiles it’s still law and more than 650,000 of Georgia’s two million uninsured will now be covered? Well, not necessarily: Governor Nathan Deal has indicated he could refuse the additional $14.5 million in Medicaid even though it’ll cost Georgia nothing for three years, upticking incrementally to a maximum ten percent after 2020. So withholding it from the poor and the elderly, our friends and neighbors, will be a wanton, foot-stamping political tantrum.
These guys are firmly in the pocket of Big Health consequently between now and election time we’ll be hearing much more of their hokum. If they prevail it will cost us dearly. With no other option the Great Uninsured swamp the ERs and by law they cannot be turned away. From this “charity” service alone Georgia’s hospitals lose an estimated $1.5 billion a year; some could face ruination.
The needy milk the system. The system milks those it can. With Federal aid blocked, the entire financial burden falls on us Georgians. Thank you, Governor Deal. Do you really serve the people of this state or the health, pharmaceutical and insurance industries listed as your greatest benefactors?
Republicans vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act that the Supreme Court upheld last month. What are they offering in its place? A relapse.
Back to the dark days of pre-existing conditions and lifetime limits and all the other slimy stratagems of an insurance club that’s already caused so much extra suffering. Back to the days of babies born with an affliction that automatically denies them coverage from their first breath to their last – a death that comes all too soon precisely because medical care is denied them. Kootchy-koo and R.I.P. This way of doing business is not part of a civilized society
The bill that survived the conservative-dominated Supreme Court is incorrectly named. Rather than reforming health care, it harnesses the greedy firms that profit from our misery. Its real name should be the Health Insurance Reform Act because it limits the tricky jive those outfits love to spin.
Still their lackeys keep up the chant about getting Washington out of our health care decisions. Washington isn’t the problem, it’s the fat cat not-to-be-trusted insurance companies.
As an example, in his final year as CEO of Cigna, Edward Hanway turned down a bunch more cancer treatments – a death sentence for many - hiked customers’ rates and bolted with $100 million in his pocket. David Cordani took over last year with a paycheck in excess of $10 million. These are the middlemen who’ve elbowed their way between you and your doctor, not the president, not the government
Once the nuts and bolts of the health law are explained, Americans approve it overwhelmingly. Two thirds of Massachusetts residents cherish the state version that’s was put into effect in 2006 by then governor Mitt Romney. “Romneycare” is the beta-tested version of “Obamacare.”
The economist who designed both is MIT’s Professor Jonathan Gruber. “There’s nothing ‘socialist’ about this,” he says. “It’s an injection of government funds into a private market.” Uninsured folks pay a penalty because the cost of any treatment they incur should not become the burden of everyone else. “Free riders” as Romneycare labels them, make up less than one percent in  Massachusetts and are penalized.
About that Supreme Court decision. It was a bad day for the insurance vultures and a bad day for “pernicious” politicians like those in our area whose allegiance is to the health business instead of to us. For the rest of America it was a great relief.
And I see someone has already called Mr Woodall out on the preposterous claim that doctors make better politicians. Didn’t he also once say ballerinas make the best NASCAR drivers?

ENDIT
© 2012 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.