Lefty Coaster has a terrific diary on political corruption a la Jack Abramoff. But that's only half the story.
Jack Abramoff was on 60 Minutes last night talking about corruption in the halls of power. Jack played dirty with with Republicans, but let's be clear, there is virtually identical corruption deep within the Democratic Party-- and it pains me to have to point out the obvious.
Let's take a look at one huge piece of legislation, The Affordable Care Act. Many of us
believe know it was an all out giveaway to the insurance industry. A tragic missed opportunity of epic and historic proportions. The policy contours, if you even want to dignify the legislation on such a level, are the consequence of a Democratic Party, fully in the thrall of insurance industry campaign contributions.
May I add, what is self-evident. If the ACA were intelligent, bold or sound legislation, the rest of the world would be following suit. In fact the ACA, enshrined the for-profit insurers at the very heart of our 'reformed' system. It's neither reformed, nor a system. It's fragmented with costs spiraling out of control, and millions of Americans simply giving up as their premiums escalate and the benefits disappear. In fact much of the world fears, justifiably so, 'American-style' health care.
Today, you can read in Politico about Nancy Pelosi's chief spokesperson, a guy named Brendon Daly now working for an industry group called the Essential Health Benefits Coalition. Some might say, this is great because Daly was one of the useless fools, responsible for so terribly botching the Democratic messaging during the endless debate of 2009. Chances are good he'll make another mess working as the spokesperson for the stakeholders.
But make no mistake, Brandon Daly was brought on board to buy access--to Democrats.
The snake of access has a million heads, you chop off one head, and two new ones are grown. The fangs on these heads became even more deadly since Citizens United and even more unlimited money became available to buy and sell votes and legislation.
Legislation, whether it's our very unfair tax code, or the ACA, are not acts of nature. We might be inculcated (much to the delight of the political class) to accept our sorry lot as random acts of the universe, but they're not. Terrible and unfair legislation, is the result of political payouts, campaign contributions, and a political culture which favors those with the open checkbooks. This is how both Democrats and Republicans work against the needs of the American people, and why we are in such decline in this country.
The ACA will not control cost, or if it does, it will control cost on the backs of sick Americans. Sound familiar? Of course, who pays the taxes in this country? The working poor and struggling middle class, or what remains of the middle class. And the same fate awaits these beleaguered Americans when the day arrives that they can buy health insurance.
In exchange for 'insuring' all those who can pay, the private health insurance industry working with front groups like the Essential Health Benefits Coalition, are heavily involved in insuring the regulations are as stripped down and industry-friendly as possible.
And because this legislation is essentially unworkable (think of fitting a round peg in a square hole), the Institute of Medicine in its much anticipated report is arguing that cost must be a guiding principle in designing the essential benefits package.
I urge you to read the letter being circulated by PNHP against the recommendations of the frightening Institute of Medicine recommendation that the so-called 'minimum benefit package', make cutting cost a central tenet.
Here's a piece of the letter.
The IOM proposal would base the required coverage on the benefits typical of plans currently offered by small businesses – enshrining these skimpy plans as the new standard. These bare-bones policies come with a long list of uncovered services and saddle enrollees with unaffordable co-payments and deductibles.
Already, millions of underinsured Americans forgo essential care: adults with heart attacks delay seeking emergency care1; children forgo needed primary and specialty care2; patients fail to fill prescriptions for lifesaving medications3; and serious illness often leads to financial catastrophe4.
The inadequate coverage the IOM recommends would shift costs from corporate and government payers onto families already burdened by illness. Yet this strategy will not lower costs. Delaying care frequently creates even higher costs. Steadily rising co-payments and deductibles over the past two decades have failed to stem skyrocketing medical inflation. And nations that assure comprehensive coverage – with out-of-pocket costs a fraction of those in the United States – have experienced both slower cost growth and greater health gains than our country.
No public option. No Medicare buy in. Nothing but a requirement that we all buy private junk insurance, and that the insurers will be required to sell us something they will call 'insurance'. If the ACA survives the legal challenges, you will be able to afford only very bare bones coverage, having nothing at all to do with what you or I might require as a patient.
If the ACA is implemented in 2014, it will require insurers to offer coverage to approximately 35 million Americans. There is little or nothing in the legislation which will control cost. We will still have the most expensive system in the world, and millions, the most vulnerable and the poorest of the poor, will continue to be left out.
Based on 2009 figures, health care costs Americans $7,960 each. Canadians paid $4,363 each; British paid $3,487 each; and Norwegians, with the second most expensive system, paid $5,352 each.
The Essential Health Benefits Coalition, with people like Branden Daly, at the helm, are going to do a full court press on how the insurance industry is fighting to make coverage affordable. This will be a lie. Just like, 'if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor', was far removed from the truth.
As you can see, from the Essential Health Benefits Coalition web site, this is going to be a zero sum game, wherein your federally mandated insurance will get you what you 'need', not what you may 'want'. Their words, my friends, in black and white on their web site.