Archive for December 28th, 2009

Part 8, the continuing saga of H.R.3590.

We’ve traveled a sad road from health reform hyperbole and buzzwords, in the Ohio debate, in 2008, to feeding and electing a lot of scalawag Blue Dog Democrats at any cost this year. We have had to learn all over again that presidential candidates DO often avoid saying what they mean, and not what we think, or want to hear. We had to learn again that media interjects it’s own desire for ratings over what the candidates are attempting to communicate. WE are the losers in this interchange.

Candidate Obama offered “universal health coverage“. Clinton disputed his term.

Perhaps this is part of the learning experience for us. When a lawyer or other skilled wordsmith uses a term like “universal” we must think critically about what the person really means and how the words are parsed. This IS a universal coverage bill. It applies to all of the United States, her territories, and her protectorates. It is NOT a universally applicable bill.

In fact, despite the benefits of the Mikulski amendment, 51% of the population will be treated differently under this bill, and this is not a good thing. When this bill becomes an act, much of what women need in health insurance will be subject to line item scrutiny. Native Americans, children, the homeless, and veterans will also be subject to line item scrutiny, while that of men will not. Women are still a special interest group, born out of recognition in the 60’s of their treatment as second-class citizens. The struggles to achieve equality for women have been left moldering at the gate of the ERA, shut by society’s errant deadline in 1982.

Though the ERA did not die, except for a few soldiers, most of us just didn’t know how to continue fighting for it. We walked away, defeated in our ignorance, or we tried to gain bits and pieces of equality through more line items in other bills. We had yet to learn to “never, never, never, give up”. Now, though our understanding of the ERA’s role and absence is reawakening, it does not yet inform our lawmaking in Congress. There are ways to again take up it’s banner, to fight the deadline, to start anew if need be, but not enough of us know that yet.

It is the recognition of the conundrum that the line items designed for us, and to protect us, are weak sisters as compared to full equality, and the privileges, responsibilities and authorities that equality bring.

In this regard, over at the Confluence, Riverdaughter has written clearly about the blow to Griswold and Roe that this bill will inflict.

After the 2008 presidential election of a thousand cuts, we have become more attuned. We have found a voice and we are gathering strength.

Congress has struggled mightily to achieve what our President put forth as his health agenda, and they are almost there. As he said, every criterion has been met. He is telling us that this was the health agenda for which we voted him into office. Someone gave him and Congress the green light to proceed.

This Congress and President were not sent to DC to get us single payer health insurance.  Even as an option, is was a toss off. Refresh your memory. Forget the YouTube, the Websites, the pundits who may have told you what a candidate did or did not say. Read the debate transcripts again.

[Editor’s note: This is part two of the transcript for the Democratic presidential debate sponsored by CNN and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute on January 21, 2008….

(Clinton)….: Well, first of all, if you don’t start out trying to get universal health care, we know — and our members of Congress know — you’ll never get there.

If a Democrat doesn’t stand for universal health care that includes every single American, you can see the consequences of what that will mean. I think it is imperative that we have plans, as both John and I do, that from the very beginning say, “You know what? Everybody has got to be covered.”

There’s only three ways of doing it. You can have a single-payer system, you can require employers, or you can have individual responsibility. My plan combines employers and individual responsibility, while maintaining Medicare and Medicaid.

I think that the whole idea of universal health care is such a core Democratic principle that I am willing to go to the mat for it. I’ve been there before. I will be there again. I am not giving in; I am not giving up; and I’m not going to start out leaving 15 million Americans out of health care.

Secondly, we have seen once again a kind of evolution here. When Senator Obama ran for the Senate, he was for single-payer and said he was for single-payer if we could get a Democratic president and Democratic Congress. As time went on, the last four or so years…

CLINTON: As time went on, the last four or so years, he said he was for single payer in principle, then he was for universal health care. And then his policy is not, it is not universal. And this is kind of like the present vote thing, because the Chicago Tribune, his hometown paper, said that all of those present votes was taking a pass. It was for political reasons.

Well, when you come up with a universal health care plan and you don’t have any wiggle room left, you know that you’re going to draw a lot of political heat. I am not running for president to put Band- Aids on our problems. I want to get to universal health care for every single American….

(Obama)….“Now, it’s fine for us to have a debate about how the best way to get there is, but to suggest somehow that I’m not interested in having anybody covered, or to suggest, as Hillary just did, that I was in favor of single payer — I never said that we should try to go ahead and get single payer. What I said was that if I were starting from scratch, if we didn’t have a system in which employers had typically provided health care, I would probably go with a single-payer system.”

What’s evolved, Hillary, is your presentation of my positions, which is what’s happened frequently during the course of this campaign.]


(Bolds above mine.) Well. We were never starting from scratch.

Dennis Kucinich said it best in June 2007:

New Hampshire Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate

Aired June 3, 2007 – 19:00   ET


…KUCINICH: I reject this whole approach.

And the American people should know that with half the bankruptcies in the country connected to people not being able to pay their doctor bills or hospital bills, premiums, co-pays and deductibles are going so far through the roof, 46 million Americans with no health care, another 50 million underinsured, there is only one way to get health care coverage for all Americans. And that is to have a universal, single-payer, not-for-profit health care system, Medicare for all.

Wolf, I have written the bill. It is H.R. 676, with John Conyers, supported by 14,000 physicians.

And you know what? What Senator Clinton, Senator Edwards, Senator Obama are talking about, they’re talking about letting the insurance companies stay in charge. They’re talking about continuing a for-profit health care system. And I think…]


Not Obama, nor Clinton, nor Edwards thought single payer could be achieved now, even if they did believe in it. Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, on the other hand, was willing to fight for it.

Due to the corporate structure of the media, a whole lot of us never even saw or read the debates, because of the recession-based loss of financing for extras like newspapers, cable and dish. A bunch of us have never yet had access to broadband. We are awaiting the “Obama Version” of rural broadband access. That meant out of the many democratic debates, many of us had the potential to see only two. Those of us in this condition did our best, but how were we to clearly evaluate the candidates’ words as spoken from the mouths of others? In reading the transcripts every debate said pretty much the same. Obama says 95% of his plan is like Clinton’s. No one should be surprised, who was more connected, like for example, NetRoots.

If I believed that our vote had truly counted, I would have said so be it. This is what most of you wanted. The Congress we have is doing our job. However, I don’t think that. Someone took away electoral votes, Convention balloting, the right to present complaints in a court of law. Besides, someone paid 747.8 million dollars to elect the candidate of choice, 140.9 million more than all the Republican presidential candidates put together. Someone else paid the running tab of all those “congress critters”, as Blue Lyon likes to call them, along with River City Mud, FireDogLake and Corrente who articulated many of the deficits of the Senate bill.

At the last several came out against this bill; Naral, Now, Women Count: and others. These folks also:

“Physicians for a National Health Program” (PNHP) came out against the health reform bill, H.R.3590.

[Pro-single-payer physicians call for defeat of Senate health bill

Posted by Mark Almberg on Tuesday, Dec 22, 2009

Legislation ‘would bring more harm than good,’ group says

For Immediate Release

Dec. 22, 2009


David Himmelstein, M.D.

Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H.

Oliver Fein, M.D.

Mark Almberg, PNHP, (312) 782-6006, mark@pnhp.org

A national organization of 17,000 physicians who favor a single-payer health care system called on the U.S. Senate today to defeat the health care legislation presently before it and to immediately consider the ad..]

The AFL-CIO and SEIU said they were disappointed but sticking to it.

AARP, when I checked had maintained their position, stated on the 16th, in favor of the bill. They are most concerned about closing the “Doughnut Hole” that the last Medicare fiasco produced. This bill, reportedly, will do that.

Plus, AARP does carry it’s own health insurance company.

Money is God. Money is power. We choose to support corporations, the least transparent of all, or we choose to support government organizations and single payer systems subject to scrutiny. Someone championed the former. Someone voted for the former. Had either Clinton or Edwards won the presidency, we would have still had some version of what we now are getting – a combination employer/private insurance system articulating with Medicare and Medicaid. Though the debate details might haven been different, they still would have been over line items. I struggle to imagine whether we would have had a better line item presidential advocate for women. I hope so. I think so.

The Republicans are equally to blame in this debacle. Disingenuous arguments about the quality of these bills are no recourse, when they would not have voted for a single payer system either. Nor does it profit them to be so obsessed with controlling women’s genitals. Ridiculous stuff about death panels hardly helps. 39 Senators voted against H.R. 3950, all Republican. Thirty years from now when this bill/act is finally acceptable, that vote will look stupid. The political left swing that will come will cast those votes in a different light. Despite the bill’s horrible faults, Democrats still have eleven months to make it work for the benefit of the party. Clinton’s primary debate comment is right in that Universal Health Care is a core Democratic value.

It was never going to be easy to get back in balance so quickly, much less that left swing, that some say our country does on a fifty-year pendulum. The ravages of “rightness” are yet too great, too raw and open. We have been off balance to the right for so long this time, we have raised forty years worth of youngun’s to live with one short leg. Understandable leftist desperation of this system has made us grasp for an untenable coalition with DINOs and worse, while we let the oligarchs gain even more power.

This Congress and this President have produced something entitled “Universal Health Care”, whatever that might mean. While some us are telling the benefits of this bill, we know as Democrats it could be much, much better. We are about to be stuck with it. If we want single payer we are going to have to work some more.  If we want equality for women, it doesn’t come in this bill. We have to beat at it’s line items and sections until they are forged into something more acceptable.  Then we have to work for equality elsewhere, so that it may someday apply.

Though the House is in Holiday Recess, some few are working on the Reconciliation of the House and Senate bills now. H.R. 3590 and H.R 3962 are about to merge, travel to the President, and become law of the land, sometime next year, five days after the President signs it. So, for those of you who do have insurance, think about sitting down with your companies and getting some direction.

The next health care battles are here.

Never, never, never give up!

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