Monday, August 17, 2009

Health Care: When Americans Voted For Obama And Democrats, What Were They Voting For?

By Manifesto Joe

A recent (Aug. 3-6) nationwide telephone poll by the Marist Institute of Public Opinion found that 45 percent of Americans disapprove of President Obama's handling of health care reform, while 43 percent approved. Here's a link.

Obama won the popular vote last year with 53 percent. This begs the question: What did the "swing" voters, the independents, think they were voting for when they cast ballots for Obama and other Democrats?

And, as for those who are wavering on the issue, did they not expect yet another disinformation barrage, perhaps even worse that the "Harry and Louise" campaign of 1993-94? There are many interest groups -- insurers, pharmaceutical companies, stockholders, doctors and other health care "professionals" -- who have a big stake in the status quo and fear they will lose money if a public option comes to pass. Wasn't a propaganda flood, financed by the vested interests, expected?

My disapproval of Obama's handling of this would be purely idealistic: I favor a single-payer model similar to the ones in Canada and Germany. Even the English, whose National Health Service is often vilified here, are getting highly pissed and coming to the defense of the NHS. Here's another link. No less than renowned scientist Stephen Hawking has asserted that, contrary to U.S. right-wing demagoguery, the NHS saved his life from the longtime ravages of ALS. (Yet another link.)

The idealist in me says, if "socialism" is what they have in Norway and Sweden, where do I sign up? They live longer than Americans do; their babies don't die nearly as often; and their middle class doesn't have to live in fear of bankruptcy if someone comes down with a catastrophic illness.

You don't even have to look at Scandinavian countries with hyperactive welfare states. Australia, perhaps the closest nation to the U.S. ideologically, has something resembling "socialized" medicine.

Among other developed countries in the world, you don't see any of them battling to trade in their government-run programs for the U.S. "Land of the Fee" model, do you?
Their way looks much more like the right path to me.

But -- living in America, and especially in Texas, made me stop being an idealist long ago. It's clear by now that Obama and his "allies" are going to have a hard time just putting over a public option, so single-payer will have to wait, probably until after I'm dead.

Back to the American public -- that 45 percent who disapprove. I'd wager that few of them ever had to actually USE their underperforming health insurance to battle a chronic illness. I have allergies so severe that I depend on multiple medications just to live, and the co-payments and deductibles eat up much of my income. This was not something I did to myself; I was born with allergies.

Let's talk about "death panels." I have the impression that among that 45 percent, their answer for me would be, "Just die and get out of the way." Such people protest loudly at being called Nazilike, but it sounds a lot like eugenics to me.

That 45 percent probably never had to battle cancer, as my wife did in 1992, on one of those swell 80-20 private insurance plans, with a deductible. That experience hurled us into debt that we've never gotten out of to this day. Bankruptcy was actually on the table for us a couple of years ago -- fortunately, we found an alternative.

But we are like many other middle-class Americans in that, even with both of us insured, another major illness could very well plunge us into so much debt that bankruptcy would be certain. And, the insurance companies would have the complete prerogative to drop either or both of us.

That 45 percent: I shudder to think that there are so many profoundly misguided Americans. One can go back to relatively recent history and witness the fickleness of the electorate. In 1992, Clinton pulled off a plurality win, and the Democrats took both houses of Congress solidly. Two years later, the Republicans and their "Contract With America" turned the tables utterly, though not for long.

Back a bit further, in 1974 the Republican Party seemed repudiated and in tatters after Watergate. It only took six years for the Reagan right wing to turn that completely around.

I hope that Obama can stand his ground, and that the electorate doesn't prove to be that fickle in 2010. If my insurance company decides to kick me to the curb, I'd like that public option, or at least something that keeps me from going broke.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Postscript: CNN reports that at 1:03 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, at a presidential event in Phoenix, a reporter saw a man in the anti-Obama camp carrying an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. (Arizona has an open-carry law.) Are those mean-spirited lib'ruls gonna call him a Nazi?


Jack Jodell said...

Let's get down to brass tacks here: it is immoral to profit handsomely by excluding others from coverage or by denying coverage once claims have been made. If you ask me, the very idea of using people's illness and discomfort for purposes of creating a profit center in the first place. Every civilized industrialized first world country except us have some kind of universal coverage for its citizens. The fact that we don't, and that we (or some of us, anyway) oppose such a notion shows that, on that subject at least, we are NOT the greatest and most advanced country in the world. In that regard, we are 100 years behind the times, stubbornly and ignorantly stuck in the Gilded Age. A nation who places private profit over and above the well being of all its citizens is a callous and underdeveloped nation, nothing to be proud of!

Jack Jodell said...

And to those on the far right, especially the religious right, who oppose universal coverage and/or support keeping things just as they are, with private insurance and pharmaceutical companies fleecing the public as they are, I'd like to remind you of something: Jesus never excluded any of those He healed due to any ridiculous "pre-existing condition" clauses, nor did He engage in greedily healing for profit.

Anonymous said...

As for profiting from the illnesses of others goes, come on down to Houston, where almost the entire Texas Medical Center is "not for profit" hospitals. Just because they ask you to pay a bill doesn't mean they are publically-traded, profit making. Methodist, Hermann, Texas Children's, TIRR, Baylor.... they're all "non-profits".

While you're down here, come on down the the General Aviation ramp at Hobby or to the international arrivals building at Intercontinental and watch the Europeans coming in to get life-saving treatement they can't get back home! Much of this is paid for by the governments and a lot is out of their own pockets. You see, guys like Hawking and others get moved ahead in those chronically underfunded programs that most of the unwashed masses in Euroland. I mean, how would it look if the smartest man alive died in an NHS cesspool?

Go to Europe and look for anything like MD Anderson, which is a "not for profit" or any other great hospital founded by the philanthropy of people who did well and wanted to give back to their people. Come to MD Anderson, and you'll see that it's like the U.N. without the tin-horn dictators running the halls. People are from everywhere, a blend of "old money" and well-connected elites who can't or won't wait with their fellow citizens!

How do I know all this? I fly a private air ambulance service that specializes in bringing in the rich, the well-connected and the influential to Houston for treatment! I just flew from Gatow to Houston yesterday carrying a former German government minister for treatment at MD Anderson that he cannot get in Europe or elsewhere! This is all on the Federal Republic's tab.

Oh, have you heard that waiting time to se an OB-GYN in Canada is 10-12 months?

I could tell you some stories, but they'd just mess up your Worldview of Euro-topia!

Manifesto Joe said...

These "stories" work two ways, Anon. I know somebody who just got through with extensive breast cancer treatment at MD Anderson in Houston, and her reports weren't very favorable. I'm sure she would have fared better if money had been no object.

Also, you are confused about "nonprofit" corporations. Just because they are chartered as nonprofits doesn't mean they still can't charge exorbitant fees for drugs, doctors, tests, etc. That the corporate "person" itself doesn't "profit" is beside the point. Many other "people" rake in plenty behind the scenes -- many of them stockholders in drug companies who get astonishing returns on their investments.

I'd like to see something besides anecdotes about wait times in Canada. I'm sure their system has its drawbacks, but I haven't noticed the Canadian people clamoring to scrap their single-payer system in favor of our private monopoly/oligopoly. Noticed any big populist movement up there to go for American-style?

Bottom line for most of us working- and middle-class stiffs is: Health care means something to me only when it is accessible and affordable. If I can't get it or pay for it, it's no goddamned good to me.

Oh, and how nice to read that you're "profiting" off rich people of all nationalities who are buying treatment they couldn't ordinarily get. Glad to hear you're making it, and I'm sure that such a business will earn you many, many brownie points in the hereafter (or whatever).

Manifesto Joe said...

By the way:

Regarding those alleged wait times for OB-GYN in Canada ...

Let's look at some numbers on infant mortality.

Countries with "socialized" medicine:

Japan: 3.2 per 1,000 live births
Sweden: 3.2 per 1,000 live births
Norway: 3.3 """
France: 4.2
Germany: 4.3
Denmark: 4.4
Australia: 4.4
U.K.: 4.8
Canada: 4.8
Cuba: (Those godless commies!) 5.1

And then we have:
United States: 6.3
The U.S. ranks below Brunei (5.5), Cyrus (5.9), and New Caledonia (6.1).

Nothing personal, Anon: But you are just a fucking fool. And of the worst kind -- you are milking money off a venal, corrupt system and seem to think that's something makes you wise.