Monday, August 17, 2009

The Answer Is a Referendum on the Public Option


The Single Payer option was “aborted” before the current Health Care proposals took shape, and there was silence.

At least silence from the 50 million uninsured in America. 50 million people. Sure, many of them are homeless, living below the poverty line, but many are also the recently unemployed. If some small fraction of that population showed up to town halls and demanded what they in fact need, no amount of bussed-in patsies could shout them down.
No one can drown out a terminally-ill child who is refused care, or worse –never had it.
No one can tell the sick they don’t need what they need.

No lobbyist can fool the dying.

Now the Public Option, a proposed government-run no-profit structure is also endangered. It seems that we Americans have long ago given up the idea that we have a right to anything, as long as someone happens to be shouting in the room.

What’s remarkable about the attempts at derailing Health Care reform this time, is just how naked and transparent they are. Right wing propaganda arm, Fox News continues to parade around “experts” who have career-long histories of stepping on Americans to further the cause of the HMOs and the Health Care industry: lobbyists, former lobbyists and PR people masquerading as Think Tank members, or independent consultants. It’s no different a ploy than the bookings and interviews of all the so-called “experts” during the run up to the current Iraq War, many of whom turned out to have ties to defense contractors and other war profiteers.

But all in all, across the GOP’s talk/shout radio apparatus, across its right wing blogosphere is the insistence on talking about anything (including fictions and lies like “death panels”) that will confuse the issue of providing Medical care coverage to Americans with issues that incense and mobilize irrational opposition in voters. Any bill that has the mere mention of “abortion” in it will make some people take to the street every time; whether a reference to abortion is actually in the bill isn’t really of consequence if someone on Fox News or the Far Right says it is.

But something else may be happening behind the backs of all who are angry, silent, agitated, confused, hopeful or despondent in America.

Something truly diabolical and in my opinion far worse than the theatrical opposition of John Boehner and the contrived, specious doubts of Eric Cantor is happening behind America’s back.
As I wrote today in response to my co contributor and founder of this blog; I now suspect that no one in government wants real healthcare reform. Not the Republicans and not enough of the Democrats, just Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Howard Dean (not currently in elected office although somehow he’s managed to say more about the Public Option than anyone with the possible exception of Senator Chuck Schumer of New York) and Dennis Kucinich. The GOP has repeatedly said it will not sign any of the proposals for Health Care. Their reasons for opposition are as groundless and ridiculous as they are intractable. The Republicans simply don’t want change of any kind; they want nothing that would interrupt the flow of dollars from Health Care lobbyists to their campaigns.

However the continued willingness of the Democrats in the Senate and our President to bargain away key items and programs in the bills will not garner one single vote as my co-contributor has pointed out repeatedly on this blog. While this bargaining will do nothing in the way of accumulating the fabled “bipartisan” support President Obama has said he wants, it does in fact do something else: It fulfills the Health Care lobby's goals.

Are Senate Democrats afraid to wholly "own" Health Care reform, are they insisting on shared responsibility to avoid a replay of the tribal schisms and regional polarizations created by the enactment of the civil rights legislation of the 60s that caused them to “lose the South” for decades? I suspect the reason is much more venal in nature.I suspect that many Democrats are allowing the Health Care Reform efforts to be whittled-down from without, so they can publicly say they did all they could, while not openly upsetting their own pay stream from K street lobbies. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m paranoid, but it doesn't really matter does it?
-Ultimately the result and consequence is the same, regardless of motive and intent on the part of whomever, or whatever party. 50 million people will go on with life (and death) in America without Health coverage.

The rest of us live at the mercy of an industry that will let any one of us die if we cost them too much money.

… Maybe the Health Insurance Industry is where Sarah Palin’s imaginary “death panels” reside? -No, even they don’t have “death panels.”
What they do have are lawyers and entire legal divisions devoted to weird and now lethal concepts like “rescission,” but again the result and consequence is much the same.

While the Republican Party pats itself on the back for its successful obstruction and distraction, those now familiar throngs of panic-driven shouters remain the loudest voices in the discussion right now. How is it that these mobs bus themselves (or are sponsored) from Town Hall to Town Hall unopposed?

If Health Care reform dies, it'll be because all the people who determined the last presidential election in November remained silent.

The Health Care industry will continue to prey on Americans and business big and small. With no Public Option, there is no reform. We should be able to count on our representatives, our senators to defend our concerns but the truth is, they too listen to the loudest voices in the room. Right now the uninsured are not heard above the shouting of the new “thug politic” and whatever money and favors elected officials received from the Health Care industry. Money still talks very loudly, and it downright drowns out a pre-term baby, a teenager with MS or a mother dying of cancer.

How do Americans combat the “thug politic” that is screaming nonsense at televised Town Halls around the country?
How do Americans who voted for change, insist on change?
How can you be heard over some misinformed lunatic at a televised Town Hall meeting?
My suggestion is something very radical and very American:

-A national referendum on the Public Option.

Call or email your local, state and federal representatives and ask about the process, and let them know it’s about the Public Option:

The President and Vice President:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

Your US Senators:
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Your Representatives in the House:
https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

Ask for a referendum on the Public Option now.

or you know, just drop dead.

-SJ

4 comments:

Jack Jodell said...

SJ,
Your idea of a public referendum is brilliant. I am contacting all my elected officials today. I am tired of Harry Reid's limp-wristed "leadership." I am fed up with the traitorous actions of bought-out Democrats like Kent Conrad, Max Baucus, and Evan Bayh (whose wife, Susan, sits on the board of WellPoint, a health insurance company. I have HAD IT with members of Congress turning their backs on regular people in favor of appeasing campaign donors from big pharma and big insuranced!

If Congress does not find a way to guarantee decent medical coverage to every citizen in this country, I won't support the Democrats anymore. I won't become an Independent. Rather, I will become a cultural, economic, and political American Dissident who will have nothing but total disdain for all that is big and has concentrated capital in this country.

SJ said...

@Jack,
It's certainly disheartening, but it's important to note that we can still make them listen. America voted for change, and as Jim Morrison once sung "we've got the numbers," so we have to act like it. If the people who voted for change make themselves heard now, the Democrats who are tempted to take an easy way out on Health Care reform will straighten up.

Ultimately it is up to us.

I just emailed all my representatives and now I'm getting on the phone. Legislation and referendums may be the province of the legislature, but I'm calling the White House and everybody down to my local councilman, if only to make the word "referendum" stick.
-SJ

Toby said...

Kudos to you, Sandy and Mike, for your articles on this. The slow crumbling of the democratic Party's resolve to fight for real health care reform is disappointing, though hardly surprising. It continues to amaze me that the concern in this argument has been to protect the for-profit insurance industry, which is comprised of, in the words of the republican party, bureaucrats who stand between you and your doctor.

SJ said...

@Toby,
many thanks for the encouragement. Frankly I thought often of your own experience with having an insurer classify your eye injury's treatment as a cosmetic procedure.

There's no need for anyone to fear the "rationing of medical care," we already have it in spades.
-SJ