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Today, we NEED you guys to call these 65 Democrats in the House to tell them that you don't want them to vote for the Senate bill that mandates Americans to buy private insurance with no public option. The use of the mandate to force Americans to buy a commercial product is wrong, and we shouldn't be in perpetual wage slavery to private insurance companies by having our employers pay them, us pay them, and us paying them through our taxes and an additional tax on our health insurance plans.

Emptywheel has it right when she wrote about this leading us on a road to neo-feudalism below the jump:

20% of your labor belongs to Aetna

Consider, first of all, this fact. The bill, if it became law, would legally require a portion of Americans to pay more than 20% of the fruits of their labor to a private corporation in exchange for 70% of their health care costs.

Consider a family of 4 making $66,150–a family at 300% of the poverty level and therefore, hypothetically, at least, “subsidized.” That family would be expected to pay $6482.70 (in today’s dollars) for premiums–or $540 a month. But that family could be required to pay $7973 out of pocket for copays and so on. So if that family had a significant–but not catastrophic–medical event, it would be asked to pay its insurer almost 22% of its income to cover health care. Several months ago, I showed why this was a recipe for continued medical bankruptcy (though the numbers have changed somewhat). But here’s another way to think about it. Senate Democrats are requiring middle class families to give the proceeds of over a month of their work to a private corporation–one allowed to make 15% or maybe even 25% profit on the proceeds of their labor.


It’s the same kind of deal peasants made under feudalism: some proportion of their labor in exchange for protection (in this case, from bankruptcy from health problems, though the bill doesn’t actually require the private corporations to deliver that much protection).In this case, the federal government becomes an appendage to do collections for the corporations.

Mind you, not only will citizens be required to pay private corporations. But middle class citizens may be required to pay more to these private corporations than they pay in federal and state taxes. Using these numbers, this middle class family of four will pay roughly 15% in federal, state, and social security taxes. This family will pay around $10,015 for their share of the commons–paying for defense, roads, some policing, and their social safety net share. That’s 15% of their income. They will, at a minimum, be asked to pay 9.8% of their income to the insurance company. And if they have a significant medical event, they’ll pay 22%–far, far more than they’ll pay into the commons. So it’s bad enough that this bill would require citizens to pay a tithe to a corporation. It’s far worse when you consider that some citizens would pay more in their corporate tithe than they would to the commons.

About a year and a month ago, I wrote about why I was opposed to mandated health care insurance:

Let me explain to you why the use of mandates would be a political killer, especially with the health care reform we need so badly. The insurance companies win if health care insurance is passed with everyone being forced to buy coverage from crappy insurance plans and the public option is only limited to the elderly aged 55 to 64, and the disabled, as was shown in the Baucus health care proposal.

The stifling of the public option as being a true competitor against the private insurance companies is what will happen in the eventual health care insurance legislation. If the public option isn't a viable player with comparable benefits and is constantly underfunded like the Massachusetts health care public option, then that means that only the sick and the elderly get shunted off onto the public option, with others being forced to stick with private insurance plans with no capped premiums, rising deductibles, and co-pays. The insurance companies still would deny claims. It'd still be murder by spreadsheet on their own terms but on a national scale.


Barack Obama campaigned against the idea of mandates for universal health care. He'll likely give in on this since the insurance companies will only come to the table if they get the guarantee that Americans will be forced to buy their crappy insurance products through the use of a mandate.

One of the reasons why I supported President Obama during the campaign was because he was opposed to mandates, and understood the reason why Americans couldn't afford insurance:


(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: Senator, she suggests you're falling short here by mandating coverage for children but not mandating it for their parents. What do you say?

OBAMA: Let's break down what she really means by a mandate. What's meant by a mandate is that the government is forcing people to buy health insurance and so she's suggesting a parent is not going to buy health insurance for themselves if they can afford it. Now, my belief is that most parents will choose to get health care for themselves and we make it affordable.

Here's the concern. If you haven't made it affordable, how are you going to enforce a mandate. I mean, if a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house. The reason they don't buy a house is they don't have the money. And so, our focus has been on reducing costs, making it available. I am confident if people have a chance to buy high-quality health care that is affordable, they will do so. That's what our plan does and nobody disputes that.

Funny how that's changed. This Senate bill does NOT make insurance affordable, taxes Americans on their health benefits which incentivizes their employers to drop their insurance plan and go for high-deductible junk insurance plans with fewer benefits, and there's that pesky little loophole about annual limits and out-of-pocket caps:

Another problem with the Senate bill is that it doesn’t plug a loophole that a lot of junk insurance plans use: not counting deductibles or co-payments for doctor’s visits or prescription drug payments toward a plan’s annual out-of-pocket maximum. That can be a catastrophe for people who are seriously ill. And it’s one of the things we recommended legislators fix.

The  Senate bill does say that the stingiest plans must cap consumer’s out-of-pocket payments at around $6,000 (at least in the first year after reform goes into effect; the cap could go up in succeeding years based on inflation). But it fails to specify that ALL out-of-pocket expenses-- deductibles, coinsurance, co-payments, and similar charges--would count against that out-of-pocket-maximum. The House bill does. It’s not too late for the Senate to follow suit.

It's why we're asking you guys to CALL these 65 Democrats and tell them to stand up if the bill gets ping-ponged to them with no conference process. If there is a conference process, we'll be pushing them as a bloc to make it clear that they CANNOT accept a final bill that mandates Americans to buy private insurance without the public option.

Here's the script below to use in your CALL to these Democrats:

"You were one of 65 members of Congress who said you wouldn't vote for a bill without a public option.  Yesterday, Joe Lieberman demanded that the public option be taken out of the health care bill, and Harry Reid said okay to stripping out other progressive elements as well.

Unless you stand by your pledge, the public option is gone forever and Joe Lieberman will be writing every Senate bill from now on.  We need you to take a stand against a mandated bailout of private insurers with no public option.

Do you intend to keep your word to a majority of Americans and vote "no" on this mandated bailout for private insurers when sent to you?"

Originally posted to slinkerwink on Thu Dec 17, 2009 at 09:16 AM PST.

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