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A major concern regarding a government insurance program, should one pass, is that Private insurers will snap up all the “healthy” people, turning the Public plan into a dumping ground for the highest risk & most costly patients, costing the government billions.

While it has been nice this past week to FINALLY hear President Obama referring to his “healthcare reform” and “MediaCare” in the same breath… pointing out that the beloved program shows that the government CAN do healthcare and HAS done so incredibly well for 44 years now, we need to hear more of it. MUCH more. Tell people that “the Public Option” will “look a lot like Medicare”. Call it “MedicarePLUS“. Give it a name other than the derogatory “Obama-care” moniker Republicans use so the media has something else to call it. Something positive that people are both familiar with and understand.

On ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, roundtable guest Cynthia Tucker made the point that, “Republicans have done an excellent job of convincing people that MediCare is NOT a government program”, citing one example of President Obama being told by one angry woman to “keep his government hands off her MediCare“. The amount of misinformation being spread by Republicans to try and defeat healthcare reform is astounding. Conservatives will lie, make bogus claims, repeat nonsequiturs, and anything else they can to convince people to argue against their own best interests. As Jon Stewart again so brilliantly pointed out, when you have to begin your defense of healthcare with, “Trust me, we’re not going to kill your grandparents“, you’ve got a serious problem.

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was brilliant in proffering a bill to “abolish MediCare” once and for all, DARING Republicans that have been attacking “government run healthcare” day-in & day-out for months to vote For the bill:
 


 

I’d go one further with a bill to “eliminate the V.A.” as well, daring Conservatives decrying “Socialized Medicine” to get rid of the Veterans Administration… a completely government owned, government run healthcare system where every hospital is government owned and every doctor is a government employee. Kudos to Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, for doing a masterful job of getting Neo-Conservative frontman Bill Kristol to admit that “the government is capable of running a first-class healthcare system“… he just doesn’t think the public deserves the same treatment. Those poor misguided Brits and Canadians giving the public the same free healthcare as their own troops. Hey Bill, if the thought of giving U.S. troops an added bonus is what you’re worried about (short of sending them to war on a lie that results in tens of thousands of them in permanent need of that medical care), you can take solace in the fact soldiers will still get their healthcare for FREE while the rest of us will still have to pay… not as much under your, plan, but we still pay.

(UPDATE: Not a single member of the House voted for Weiner’s bill to eliminate MediCare.)

Last week, I pointed out that Japan’s healthcare system is the program that most closely resembles what President Obama is advocating. And like every other country, they quickly realized that the ONLY way to level the playing field and prevent the public plan from becoming a costly dumping ground for the sickest of the sick is to declare ALL healthcare services “non-profit”, resulting in no advantage for private insurers to insure only the healthiest individuals. Of course, the very IDEA of a not-for-profit healthcare system would send the screaming Right into the stratosphere with cries of “Marxism!” and “Socialism!” (and their clueless followers would dutifully fall in line, grabbing their torches & pitchforks, decrying “Socialist Obamacare”, never realizing that they are arguing in favor of doctors and hospitals profiting from their misfortune.)

As long as we have “for profit” private healthcare companies, people are going to be denied treatment. That’s just a fact. That’s where the “profit” comes from. And the assumption is that people who want to avoid ever being denied treatment will sign up for “the Public Option”. But private insurers will offer super-low rates (that is, after all, what the Public Option is designed to do) to siphon away the most profitable, “healthy”, customers from the government plan. Meanwhile, rising healthcare costs could force “the Public Option” to raise its rates. Then, they’ll lose even more customers, until eventually they’ll have too few customers to effectively negotiate costs (and maybe even go out of business, with Republicans declaring victory.)

The ONLY way to prevent this from happening is to place a nation-wide cap on profits at all stages of healthcare: the insurers, doctors, hospitals and the drug companies will all have to agree to set-pricing, And THAT is what this debate is REALLY about… protecting those huge profits. We’re talking so much money, the healthcare industry has actually offered (and rescinded) cutting $2 Trillion in profits out of healthcare just to keep the government out. If they can cut that much and still be profitable, the mind reels at just how much profit they’re really taking in.

If you can stand to listen to it, this clip from PBS’s “The McLaughlin Group”, has Democrats Elenore Clift and Clarence Page debating Republicans Monica Crowley and Rich Lowrey over Conservatives who are apparently more worried about the survival of the healthcare industry than the survival of its customers… showing where their true loyalties lie.

Imagine if our police were a private “for profit” industry. Imagine some corporate lackey calling you a week after being robbed, telling you that you’ll have to reimburse them for the visit because, “we wouldn’t of had to come out if you had just put burglar bars on all your windows”. Or imagine someone from your privatized fire department refusing to come to your house and put out the fire until you gave them a credit card number over the phone first?

This is all about protecting profits. The surest/cheapest way to cut into that profit is to force them to compete against the government. But even if the Republicans got their way and kept that from happening, the next step would have to be to cap profits, and YOU KNOW how they’d react to that because we’ve ALREADY seen it (“Marxist!”), which would be even easier to defeat in Congress, ensuring no reform takes place for another 20 years.

Sign Gov. Howard Dean’s petition in support of the Public Option.
 


 

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