Historic Health Care Billed Passed without a Single Republican Vote

Faxed on December 31st with updates to Senators Lugar and Bayh; to Rep. Baron Hill; to offices of Sen. Reid, and Rep. Pelosi; and to the White House fax number.

On December 24th, 2009, the Senate passed historic legislation which takes at least trembling baby steps to addressing the multi-level health care crisis in America.

Wall Street Journal: Senate Passes Sweeping Health-Care Bill
New York Times: Senate Passes Health Care Overhaul Bill

This bill, despite what I consider its manifold shortcomings and flaws, still represents one of the most significant pieces of social legislation since FDR and recovery from the Depression before WWII, and and since the passage of Medicare in the 1960’s.

The Republicans were not on the bus for either of those moments in history, either.

Maybe this time, once and for all, the American people will realize that the Republicans have a shared interest in only one thing: protecting the wealth and power of the privileged elite and their corporate masters over any interest in serving the needs of the American people. I honestly believe the Republicans are opposed to such reform legislation because they fear it will succeed, and the American people will realize the benefits of such progressive regulation, and final nails will be driven in the coffin of the Republican party.

Sadly, therein lies my criticism of the Senate Bill, as I have outlined previously: Health Care Reform Fail: Senate Fails Citizens, Demonstrates it is Owned by Pharma, Insurance, and Corporations

The reservations I expressed then still apply.

This bill will force 30 million poor Americans to spend a monstrous percentage of income they usually do not have to buy inferior insurance from companies that have a proven track record of refusing to provide coverage, canceling policies willfully and with malicious intent, and capping coverages, even for those suffering from illnesses that threaten their lives, or conditions that leave them without the drugs, or the prostheses they need to deal with their sickness or disabilities. The stories proving this are legion.

This bill does not have any regulatory teeth to insure that these practices by private insurance companies will end.

This bill must go to a full conference in the House of Representatives. In the House, the Democrats hold an overwhelming majority, and it is time that majority stood up for the principles they were elected for in such numbers, instead of turning their backs on the American people.

The House must return a “Public Option” to the bill. Ideally, I believe the option to join Medicare, and pay payroll taxes for it, should be available to any American citizen or family, without regard to age or wealth.

It has been disgusting to watch those who scream the loudest about deficits and cost controls do everything in their power to stop progressive components in this legislation like a public option that would have provided competition and forced reform and cost savings in the private health care industry. The Congressional Budget Office again and again returned evaluations of the costs of various forms of proposed legislation over the next decade, and in every case, the stronger the “public option”, the stronger the regulation, and the stronger the provisions that would have negotiated the prices of drugs down, the more money would have been saved. At the same time not just an additional 30 million, but virtually ALL Americans would have had access to affordable health care.

Those same hypocrites did everything in their power to prevent legislation that would have forced drug companies to negotiate and deliver reasonably priced drugs to Americans. Those companies still make a profit selling the exact same drugs to companies outside the United states for sometimes as little as a fifth of what they charge American consumers. This is simply immoral and insane. The tragedy is that the Obama adminstration seems to have been directly involved in cutting a deal with “Big Pharma” to keep these outrageous price margins intact for their industry. At the cost of the American peoples’ access to to affordable drugs.

Even the traditional main-steam media are calling the Republicans on their sheer hypocrisy in their health care vote.

Health care: Democrats decry GOP inconsistency

By Charles Babington, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Republican senators attacking the cost of a Democratic health care bill showed far different concerns six years ago, when they approved a major Medicare expansion that has added tens of billions of dollars to federal deficits.

The inconsistency — or hypocrisy, as some call it — has irked Democrats, who claim that their plan will pay for itself with higher taxes and spending cuts and cite the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office for support.
By contrast, when Republicans controlled the House, Senate and White House in 2003, they overcame Democratic opposition to add a deficit-financed prescription drug benefit to Medicare. The program will cost a half-trillion dollars over 10 years, or more by some estimates.

With no new taxes or spending offsets accompanying the Medicare drug program, the cost has been added to the federal debt.

All current GOP senators, including the 24 who voted for the 2003 Medicare expansion, oppose the health care bill that’s backed by President Barack Obama and most congressional Democrats. Some Republicans say they don’t believe the CBO’s projections that the health care overhaul will pay for itself. As for their newfound worries about big government health expansions, they essentially say: That was then, this is now.

When you look at how much money the private, for profit insurance industry and “Big Pharma” has poured into the pockets of lobbyists, and from there, of course, into the pockets of Congress, you understand how totally bought and paid for the current Congress is.

Health care reform has turned into the costliest single legislative issue yet. More than $600 million has been spent on lobbying, campaign contributions and TV ads.

Merck spent $1.5 million lobbying on health care reform, other issues in third quarter

“‘Healthcare shares rose on Monday as a bill to reform healthcare passed the first critical test in the Senate . . . Shares of Cigna rose 5.3 percent to $37.69. Shares of Aetna Inc rose 5.84 percent to $34.41. Humana Inc rose 3.79 percent to $45.17 and United Health Group Inc rose 5 percent to $33.14. Shares of Wellpoint Inc rose 3.8 percent to $60.51” Reuters: Healthcare shares rise as reform bill progresses”

“Investors are seeing the Senate’s version of health care reform as a massive public subsidy for insurance companies — and as a result, are sending the sector’s stock prices shooting up, up, up. . . . Stripped of a government-run insurance plan, the bill would give tens of millions of Americans no option but to start paying hefty premiums to private companies.

The rise in stock prices has been particularly striking in the period since Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said on October 27 that he would filibuster a Senate health care reform bill if it included a public option . . . Here’s a quick breakdown of major health insurance company stock performance from Oct. 27 to Friday’s market close:
* Coventry Health Care, Inc. is up 31.6 percent;
* CIGNA Corp. is up 29.1 percent;
* Aetna Inc. is up 27.1 percent;
* WellPoint, Inc. is up 26.6 percent;
* UnitedHealth Group Inc. is up 20.5 percent;
* And Humana Inc. is up 13.6 percent” — Shahien Nasiripour, The Huffington Post’s business reporter.

The House must put teeth in regulations of the private insurance industry. The House must remove the provisions which attack the freedom of women to control their own bodies. If Rep. Stupak does not like this, let him, like Alabama’s Griffith, just join the Republican party. And take the consequences. There should be no part of this bill limiting access to abortion services. And all the provisions added to basically bribe Senators like Nelson and Landrieu (Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase ) into voting for the Senate version, provisions specifically pouring money into their states, should be cut out with the sharpest razor available.

On a personal note as a voter and citizen, it is just embarrassing to watch the performance of Senator Evan Bayh, (D-Indiana, at least in theory). This is a Senator who I generally refer to as “Senator Republican Lite”, because he can usually be counted on to lean more towards the insanity of the Republicans than to supporting his own party and President. In a just world, Bayh would have a hard time explaining his votes on health care issues. If he were a judge in a trial, he would have to recuse himself. Why?

according [to] an Indianapolis Star article from June, Evan Bayh’s wife, Susan, “owns from $500,001 to $1 million in employee stock in WellPoint, the Indianapolis-based insurance giant on whose board she sits.” That would mean that the value of her personal holdings in that one health insurance company alone, in the last six weeks alone (since [Senator Joseph] Lieberman and her husband began menacing the public option), would have increased by a value of between $125,000 and $250,000. As part of the bonanza of health care industry board positions she magically received since her husband became a Senator, Susan Bayh is given a quarter-million dollars each year in stocks and stock options from Wellpoint. That’s just a microcosm for considering how well Obama’s so-called “special interests” have done as a result of this health care bill.
Evan Bayh’s Wife Reaping The Benefits Of Health Care Reform

Senator Bayh assures us all of this in no way influences his vote. And his situation is just one example among many of how Senators and Representatives are simply awash in money from the insurance and drug industries. It is, to put in plainly, disgusting.

I recently returned a questionnaire to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, informing them that it was more likely that Hell would freeze over than they would receive any more donations from our household. Obama stood in the shadows and did not fight for the needed elements of health care legislation. I will not donate again to his campaign, either. The only thing that will change this is if Obama and the Democrats in Congress do what the American people elected them to do, and what three quarters of the American people are consistently shown to support, in poll after poll: a strong public option.


Author: Ron