Insurance Reform: Save The Insurance Companies!

In the fight over health care insurance reform, the underlying conservatism of many so-called liberal Democrats is being exposed. Sen. John Kerry is the latest, demonstrated by his proposal to delay the creation of a public option for 10 years by including in the legislation a "trigger" that would activate competition only if the insurance companies fail to control costs by 2020. The insurance industry had more than half a century to show that it can operate equitably and efficiently. It didn't. It hasn't. It can't. It won't.

Insurance companies like the public option because it will give them a government-supported refuse heap on which to dump people with expensive health problems while the companies haul off premiums paid by healthy folks. John Kerry looking out for the insurance businessIt's good business practice to cherry pick government contracts for goods and services that are cheap to provide while burdening the public with tough, costly problems. It's done all the time, in areas as diverse as security, transportation, education, utilities and prisons -- wherever public officials are too corrupt, stupid or craven to protect the public interest.

The plan providing for a publicly funded insurance option being advanced by the administration and supported by most senate leaders (even Arlen Specter wants a public option provision) already represents a retreat from progressive policy. Universal public insurance -- the so-called single-payer system most familiar to us because it is the way that Canada provides for its citizens -- that removes insurance overhead and bureaucracy from the health care system is the method used in most countries, for good reason. It would be understandable that Kerry would support his president's proposal. But his effort to undermine even the public option can only be understood if you accept that the debate in the senate is not over the health of the people but the health -- the continued profits -- of the insurance industry.

Insurance companies have failed to control costs and rein in greed in the more than 60 years since FDR, in his call for an "Economic Bill of Rights," cited "the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health." Senator Kerry has to know the insurance companies aren't going to change now and or in ten years or in another half century, as he agreed when he supported the immediate adoption of the public option when it was first proposed by the president. Yet now he is willing to undermine the best chance this country has had to catch up with the rest of the world in providing its citizens with universal access to health care by neutering the White House's already timid proposal.

As the wealthiest solon, John Kerry is probably beyond the reach of corruption. And, although it's possible that a privileged lifestyle has rendered him clueless about the lives of the ordinary citizens he claims to represent, there is no evidence he is stupid. Maybe he's just too craven, too pitifully afraid of being called bad names -- radical! anti-capitalist!! oh, horrors, socialist!!! -- by Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to stand up for the people against the powerful, greedy and unscrupulous insurance industry. Nice suit, Senator!
Or maybe he's just another of the corporatist shills who sit like obedient school children in the semicircle of desks on the senate floor waiting for industry lobbyists to teach them what to do.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails