I was impressed by the President’s speech Wednesday night – he did stand up for the public option, presented the facts about what the health care legislation is proposing, and called out the Republican obstructionist tactics for what they were. Many of the Republicans seemed to be at a Town Hall (one of the kind they stage manage these days) and it wasn’t just the “You lie!” guy, Joe Wilson (who did wonders in fundraising for his Democratic opposition candidate, Rob Miller, with that infamous outburst).
President Obama laid out the case:
Our collective failure to meet this challenge — year after year, decade after decade — has led us to the breaking point. Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy. These are not primarily people on welfare. These are middle-class Americans. Some can’t get insurance on the job. Others are self-employed, and can’t afford it, since buying insurance on your own costs you three times as much as the coverage you get from your employer. Many other Americans who are willing and able to pay are still denied insurance due to previous illnesses or conditions that insurance companies decide are too risky or too expensive to cover.
Indeed, why is America, of all countries, so backward?:
We are the only democracy — the only advanced democracy on Earth — the only wealthy nation — that allows such hardship for millions of its people. There are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage. In just a two-year period, one in every three Americans goes without health care coverage at some point. And every day, 14,000 Americans lose their coverage. In other words, it can happen to anyone.
He told of some of the horrors:
One man from Illinois lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found that he hadn’t reported gallstones that he didn’t even know about. They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it. Another woman from Texas was about to get a double mastectomy when her insurance company canceled her policy because she forgot to declare a case of acne. By the time she had her insurance reinstated, her breast cancer had more than doubled in size. That is heart-breaking, it is wrong, and no one should be treated that way in the United States of America.
Our healthcare is expensive and inefficient:
Then there’s the problem of rising cost. We spend one and a half times more per person on health care than any other country, but we aren’t any healthier for it. This is one of the reasons that insurance premiums have gone up three times faster than wages. It’s why so many employers — especially small businesses — are forcing their employees to pay more for insurance, or are dropping their coverage entirely. It’s why so many aspiring entrepreneurs cannot afford to open a business in the first place, and why American businesses that compete internationally — like our automakers — are at a huge disadvantage. And it’s why those of us with health insurance are also paying a hidden and growing tax for those without it — about $1,000 per year that pays for somebody else’s emergency room and charitable care.
Then he dismisses the single-payer way too easily. Which is what we should have, and which is why it cracks me up when the teabaggers claim Obama and the other Democrats are flaming socialists. We wish they were socialists, like Bernie Sanders.
I like when he said “The time for games has passed.” Unfortunately, the Republicans would prove him wrong before the night was over.
Then the President starts addressing the fear mongering:
Here are the details that every American needs to know about this plan. First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. (Applause.) Let me repeat this: Nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.
Then he brings up what the legislation will do, like not allowing insurance companies to deny you coverage based on a pre-existing condition, drop your coverage when your sick, or have a lifetime cap. Making sure the insurance covers routine checkups and preventative care.
Then the idea of having health insurance for those who don’t have it now. The insurance exchange, using the high number of customers to keep costs down, as large businesses and the government do, as Congress does for themselves. Here’s a thought – if those Republican congess people are so willing to let their constituents do without affordable insurance as they try to derail health care, would they be willing to do without it? It is a government program. Maybe they should show how much they’re against government programs by their families doing without.
Then the President says it will take awhile to get it off the ground and proposes offering low cost coverage now for those who can’t due to pre-existing conditions. A proposal by Senator John McCain (and it was good to see he was willing to work with President Obama on it). This is the McCain who existed before the Presidential election, when he veered off into the Republican nastiness because it was required of him. I may disagree with him on a lot of issues, but Senator McCain used to, and maybe now is again, be principled and reasonable.
Requiring everyone to carry insurance (and there is mention previously of help in the form of subsidies for those who need it). Fair enough, unless we end up compromising everything away until it’s just welfare for the insurance companies.
Then he calls the right wing talk show hosts and Congress people out on their obstructionism:
Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but by prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Now, such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
H.R. 3200: Sec 246 NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.
So, where did Congressman Wilson get his “facts” from? Well, PolitiFact notes there was a chain e-mail claiming “that page 50 of the House bill gives free health care to illegal immigrants.”
That page didn’t say that. Rather, it included a generic nondiscrimination clause that said insurers may not discriminate with regard to “personal characteristics extraneous to the provision of high quality health care or related services.”
So it isn’t there, but Rep. Wilson and others are reading it into the bill. Let’s think about this in a moment.
As the President points out, “consumers do better with choice and competition.” Competition that doesn’t exist now in many areas. Then he makes the case for public option:
But an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange. Now, let me be clear. Let me be clear. It would only be an option for those who don’t have insurance. No one would be forced to choose it, and it would not impact those of you who already have insurance. In fact, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, we believe that less than 5 percent of Americans would sign up.Despite all this, the insurance companies and their allies don’t like this idea. They argue that these private companies can’t fairly compete with the government. And they’d be right if taxpayers were subsidizing this public insurance option. But they won’t be. I’ve insisted that like any private insurance company, the public insurance option would have to be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects. But by avoiding some of the overhead that gets eaten up at private companies by profits and excessive administrative costs and executive salaries, it could provide a good deal for consumers, and would also keep pressure on private insurers to keep their policies affordable and treat their customers better, the same way public colleges and universities provide additional choice and competition to students without in any way inhibiting a vibrant system of private colleges and universities.
Then he talks about Medicare and the fear mongering going around that when his suggestion is eliminating waste, calling out the Republicans on their hypocrisy:
So don’t pay attention to those scary stories about how your benefits will be cut, especially since some of the same folks who are spreading these tall tales have fought against Medicare in the past and just this year supported a budget that would essentially have turned Medicare into a privatized voucher program. That will not happen on my watch. I will protect Medicare.
Our President sounds like he’s willing to fight:
But know this: I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than to improve it. I won’t stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are. If you misrepresent what’s in this plan, we will call you out. And I will not — and I will not accept the status quo as a solution. Not this time. Not now.
Wow, he remembered he won the election! Now will his Democratic friends in Congress, especially the “Blue Dogs” remember they won theirs? The American people really need them to take a stand for the people, for health care for all.
Now back to the Republican Town Hall side show. It really wasn’t just Joe Wilson, even though many of his Republican colleagues said they were appalled as well. All though the President’s speech, Republicans were waving their copies of the legislation. What was that all about? Well, we all know the wing-nuts (and the Congress members and talk show hosts egging them on), say “Read the legislation!”, implying none of the rest of us, especially congressional Democrats, have read it.
What they really seem to be asking though, is “read into the legislation.” Note the innocuous passage above that Joe Wilson and the sender of those e-mail use to claim that illegal aliens are covered with this legislation. The “death panel” for grannies and Trig claim from including counseling on end of life options such as hospice care, something that former Governor Palin actually signed into action, before she was against “death panels”
So, read (into) the legislation. Read into it whatever the fear mongers want you to believe. Do away with meaningful health care reform that would guarantee your family affordable coverage and make sure you don’t face life threatening choices for your grannies and children because of the unwillingness of your insurance care to cover it. One suggestion though – ask your Republican congress people to give up their government provided health insurance that guarantees their families will be secure. Insist they join you in your war against the federal government (which is, by the way, all of us – liberal, conservative or whatever politics) by refusing their government paid for, and very good, health insurance. Let’s see how fast they stick to the principal of letting them and their loved ones fall through the health care cracks that they’re trying to sell you.