Thursday, December 17, 2009

Back on topic for a moment, regarding the HCR debacle

It seems the Senate is about to pass some kind of so-called Health Care Reform bill, basically what the Finance Committee came up with, but actually what the Industry (ie: "Stakeholder") lobbyists put together way last March through May.

And Everyone assumes that this is what is going to wind up on Obama's desk for his signature -- and he'll sign it.

More than likely, that's what's going to happen. It was pretty clear way last May, surely by June, what the bill would be: a very lucrative health insurance profit guarantee, much as Medicare Part D was for the pharmaceutical industry, that would essentially mandate the purchase of "health care insurance" by everyone, just as Medicare Part D essential mandates that seniors sign up for the program or pay a penalty. (I know it doesn't work quite that way, but still... the point is the coercion.)

In exchange for mandating purchase of coverage, insurance companies will face some modest restrictions on their ability to deny coverage and to rescind coverage. On the other hand, the coverage they offer doesn't have to be very good, and they can continue to jack rates pretty much however they want to.

It's a good deal for them; not so much for the American People -- much like Medicare Part D.

This was all clear enough last summer. Everything that's happened since has been for show.

And what a show it's been.

The Teabaggers took center stage, which they kept until Holy Joe made his entrance swirling his cape and twirling his mustaches to put the kibosh on anything that the People might actually want or benefit from in this thing.

No public option (which was never clearly articulated anyway); no Medicare expansion/buy-in (which would have been cripplingly expensive for those who might qualify anyway). Limited subsidies for purchase of private insurance by those somewhat above the poverty level; pay through the nose for everyone else.

It's a shitty deal. It's always been a shitty deal. For all the OUTRAGE!!!!™ at Lieberman's star turn as Lizzie Borden (with an ax), it's really what the so-called Progressives didn't do that has brought us to this point.

Progressives do not have a bill that they are united behind. They never have had one. They don't have the corps of lobbyists to write such a bill (or series of bills; whatever) in the first place, and they aren't connected enough with either the People or the key elements of the Health Care Industry to know what would really be necessary to serve the Public Interest and curb the levels of misery and economic catastrophe the current health care system so abundantly provides.

This is true of congressional Progressives as well as the Progressive Movement among the People. They were unprepared, and they continue to be unprepared to lead in this struggle. They are disunited, they don't have a coherent and comprehensive message machine, they don't use media appropriately, and they do not have a clear set of principles to adhere to. They can't rally the People, in many cases, they can't even communicate coherently.

So. Those who do have the infrastructure and ability to ram through what they want have done so. And they've done it very well. These are the Industry Stakeholders and their armies of lobbyists. They were very well prepared, they got right down to business, and they had a bill pretty much solid and close to being sold by May. They were, of course, accommodated fully by the White House and the Congressional Leadership. Clue: the Industry Bill was always what the White House and the Leadership wanted.

"Single Payer" advocates were shut out as not "realistic." Given that the Establishment was pushing for an Industry Bill all along, just how the "Single Payer" advocates would fit in to the program was always a mystery. At that point, they might have just come up with their own bill and flogged it through the alternative media. But look what happened. The so-called "progressive" alternative media (ie: the lefty blogosphere for the most part) slammed the door on "single payer" and spent most of its efforts on trying to suck up to the Establishment and amend the deal to include something amorphous called a "public option."

It failed. Spectacularly. What an awful flameout. When Jane started her campaign against Hadassah Lieberman, it was obvious what a sad joke the attempt to curry favor with the playahs had been. That's right, you want to skewer Holy Joe? Attack his wife. How's that working out for you?

What is emerging is an awful program. There is no doubt about that. It's worse that Medicare Part D, but it's based on the same theory: bad as it is, it's something and people will get used to it and stop kvetching, and eventually nobody will even think about it any more.

And that's probably correct.

And no, it won't be "fixed" later. Oh, it might be tweaked here and there, but not overhauled to really reflect the Public Interest.

I stepped away from the whole argument a good long time ago. Once it was clear what was being proposed and what would likely pass, and once it was obvious that the so-called "Progressives" in and out of Congress were utterly clueless, chasing their own tails, or almost completely passive, I was done with it.

This was not something to become politically engaged in. To do so would lead to nothing but anger and heartbreak.

So. Here we are.

I'm sure that once the dust settles and the program (shitty as it is) gets under way, all the angst and sturm und drang that we see today will evaporate. The rending of garments and gnashing of teeth will abate. People will get used to it, and for some -- at least -- it will be a very good deal, much like the Medicare drug program. So long as a sufficient number are satisfied (and they will be), the malcontents can be dismissed.

And of course most of all, the Industry will be happy. That's been the important thing all along.

Hasn't it?

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