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I learned just minutes ago that a member of my extended family died of throat cancer (my step-brothers’ father). As bad as it is to lose any family member to cancer, it is made doubly awful by the fact it happened so quickly. Around February or March of this year, he was finally hospitalized after seeing doctor after doctor regarding a persistent “sore throat” that would not go away. Rather than actually treat him, he was essentially dismissed, until his throat started bleeding, and by then it was too late. The cancer had spread throughout his body. The doctors told us Thursday he probably had only about 48 hours to live.

I should note here, this man was not poor. In fact, he might even have fallen into the category of “rich” by the “top 2%” standard. He saw all the best doctors, even checked himself into the “prestigious” Mayo Clinic seeking the cause of his “sore throat”. He had insurance and was seen by some of the best doctors in the country. But the impression we got was that doctors were unwilling (or unable) to do the extensive testing that would of been required to properly diagnose his illness. My personal suspicion is that his insurance company didn’t want to foot the bill for a bunch of tests for someone complaining of “a sore throat”. I think I can safely say that because if the tests HAD been run, they would have found the cancer and treated it before it spread to the point of no return.


And now he’s dead.

Republicans are doing the bidding of their corporate masters, fear-mongering the very people that need help most, preying on those fears, and convincing them that reforming the healthcare system will actually make life worse for them, not better.

A week ago during NBC’s “Meet the Press”, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had the temerity to cite “a friend in Florida… who had a friend in Canada” that died after being denied treatment (it is almost certain that McConnell is conveniently omitting extenuating circumstances, such as an infection that would render the patient unfit for surgery in ANY country, including the U.S.)… a very questionable third-hand anecdote… as his basis for opposing a “National Healthcare System” like Canada has. Never mind the fact NO ONE in the White House is proposing a state-run Single Payer healthcare system like Canada (or our own VA for that matter) has, McConnell still uses it to defend his opposition to “the Public Option” because he and his ilk believe it will be SO successful that it will drive all other private insurers out of business, leaving us with a “de facto National Healthcare System” (as I pointed out a week or two ago, they simultaneously argue both how BAD the program would be and that it would be SO popular it would drive private insurance out of business). If you missed it, I posted the video on our YouTube page:
 


 

Republicans tell us horror stories of “long lines” and “inadequate care” in Canada. But Canadians don’t seem to agree. A recent poll showed that “82 percent of Canadians say their healthcare system is superior to America’s“. But I feel the need to repeat the fact that NO ONE IN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IS TALKING ABOUT BRINGING THE CANADIAN SYSTEM HERE. Though better by leaps & bounds, the Canadian system isn’t perfect. It’s an expensive system that is paid for in higher taxes that would be next to impossible to pass in the current political climate.

Actually, the country whose healthcare system most closely resembles President Obama’s “Public Option” is Japan. Japan allows private insurance companies to compete with the government’s own Public Insurance program. Everyone is required by law to have health insurance (either through their employer, the public system, or “senior care”… Japan’s version of MediCare) the same way we require all drivers to have auto insurance in this country. Those who are ineligible for employer based coverage (self employed/unemployed) and can’t afford insurance receive a subsidy to help defray the cost. The Japanese government regulates the cost of healthcare, doctor visits, drug costs and the cost of tests and hospital stays. All hospitals and physician’s offices are not-for-profit, even those privately owned or in private practice. As a result, their system costs 1/3 as much as we spend here, with better outcomes (average life expectancy: Japan #3; USA #41. Infant mortality: Japan #3; USA #33). Expect Republicans to scream bloody murder if President Obama’s plan tries to cap the amount of profit doctors and hospitals can make like they do in every other industrialized nation on Earth. If you want to bring costs under control, only a body the size of the Federal Government can dictate the maximum amount it is willing to pay for any procedure. Suggested alternatives like the “co-op” option floating around Congress can NEVER be big enough to have this effect. Not even the largest health insurance company in America is big enough to dictate how much doctors & hospitals get paid.

It’s “profit” that these soulless Conservatives are desperate to protect. “Soulless” may seem a bit harsh, but how better to describe anyone that puts concern over protecting one’s ability to turn a profit off other people’s misery when they are at their most desperate and vulnerable ahead of the welfare of others? I can’t think of a better term. Can you?

Cenk (pronounced “Jenk”) of The Young Turks pointed out this past June both the absurdity and hypocrisy of Republicans arguing to protect the current broken healthcare system inflicted upon us today:
 


 

Listen closely to those (like McConnell and McCain) who argue that “if the government gets involved, private insurers will go out of business, resulting in a lack of competition needed to keep costs down” (because the government will then have a monopoly). And do what? Charge us more for insurance so it can turn a huge profit??? No, that’s what the PRIVATE sector does when they have a monopoly, not the government. We’ve had government monopolies before (the US mail comes to mind), and it used to take an act of Congress to raise the price of a stamp. I’m old enough to remember when AT&T used to have to beg Congress to let it raise its rates. Republicans arguing that Congress will try and turn healthcare into a “money machine” IF it ever obtains a monopoly in say five, ten, thirty years from now, as an argument to protect the status quo of insurance companies already turning record profits, is absurd.

As President Obama noted in his prime-time speech last week, while the rest of the country is struggling to avoid bankruptcy, “UnitedHealth” turned a record 155% rise in profits compared to the same quarter last year. (President Obama’s primetime press conference on healthcare was intended to bolster support for reform following recent polls showing support falling following weeks of Obama-bashing by Republicans and “Special Interests” hammering away at “Obama Care”… a program that hasn’t even been written yet. BTW, it’s no accident that since then, all anyone can talk about is his verbal gaffe regarding the arrest & release of his friend, Harvard Professor Henry Gates and the Cambridge PD. Recognizing that his criticism was serving as a distraction, President Obama made an impromptu appearance the next day to explain and even minimize his earlier criticism. Good luck getting “the powers that be” to drop a convenient Red Herring.

On Friday, Texas Governor Rick Perry threatened to invoke the 10th Amendment (“only states have the power to do things not expressly permitted by the Constitution”) to keep President Obama’s healthcare option out of the state of Texas, arguing:

A government-run healthcare system is financially unstable. It’s not the solution.

Uh, “Governor Good Hair”? Ever hear of something called The Veterans Adminstration? An entire socialized healthcare system operating right here in the U.S. of A.? According to the VA website, there are 71 VA-run hospitals, clinics and medical services operating in the state of Texas. I wonder how many of them Governor Perry plans to close on the grounds that “a government-run healthcare system is financially unstable” and not permissible under the 10th Amendment?
 

My mother received the following postcard in her mail last week with photos of worried-looking seniors and a foreboding warning regarding MediCare:
 

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“Save MediCare from cuts” … “Before It’s too late!” Oh noes! What’s going on?

At first glance, I wasn’t sure if it was “pro” reform or “against”. It doesn’t expressly criticize “the Public Option” or President Obama’s plan to reform Healthcare, instead it suggest that an unrelated program may be unwittingly affected by the reforms being considered in Washington. Suspicious, I looked to see who it was from: “Coalition for Medical Choices”? Nope, never heard of them. My “Spidey-sense” was already tingling. Didn’t make sense that a “Choice” group would be concerned about protecting a private insurance supplement.

So I looked up their domain, “medicarechoices.org”, which I found is registered to “AAHP.ORG”. Lookup “aahp.org”: Surprise! “America’s Health Insurance Plans”, a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C.. Their concern: that the government might eliminate “MediCare supplemental insurance” because it would no longer be needed if everyone had full 100% coverage from the get-go. So their true goal is to protect their cushy gig from competition with the government.

Praying on the fears (and lack of savvy) of seniors to protect their profits. There really is a special place in Hell for these people (not just AAHP, but everyone trading in on fear for profit… an entire industry born out of the Reagan Revolution of the 1980’s).

You see, it’s not simply a problem of being unable to find “common ground” between the two political Parties. I explain it this way:

Democrats say, “Lightbulbs emit light.”
Republicans say, “No, Lightbulbs suck dark.”

The reason nothing ever gets done in Washington is because the two sides are complete and polar opposites, one is right and the other is batshit insane.
 

(UPDATE: Like we need further proof of how morally bankrupt healthcare reform opponents are, Crooks & Liars posted the following video Monday: Fox & Friends crew frighten elderly viewers: health-care reform is ‘a subtle form of euthanasia’.)
 
(ThinkProgress reported Monday that Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Naturally) stated on Alex Jones’ radio show: “We’ve been battling this socialist health care, the nationalization of health care, that is going to absolutely kill senior citizens. They’ll put them on lists and force them to die early because they won’t get the treatment as early as they need.)

 


 

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